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REPORT OF BVA 64TH NATIONAL CONVENTION BYLAWS AND RESOLUTIONS COMMITTEE
RESOLVED, that the National President shall send letters of appreciation to organizations and individuals contributing to the success of the 64th National Convention, as well as to other individuals and organizations assisting and supporting BVA during the past year.
WHEREAS, the Visual Impairment Service Team (VIST) approach to service delivery was established in 1967 to provide much needed outreach services to blinded veterans, AND
WHEREAS, because of staffing and funding problems, these services have not been provided to all eligible blinded veterans, or in equal proportions, AND
WHEREAS, the VIST Coordinator is the TEAM member responsible for initiating aggressive outreach activities and the timely delivery of comprehensive services, AND
WHEREAS, in several stations, VIST Coordinators have other responsibilities in addition to the VISTs, thus precluding the provision of needed services to all eligible veterans, AND
WHEREAS, the quality and quantity of services are directly dependent upon the amount of time that the Coordinator has to devote to this assignment and upon that person's knowledge and motivation to provide the needed services, AND
WHEREAS, in some stations these services have been even further eroded by decisions made by supervisors regarding the selection, placement and changing of Coordinators, AND
WHEREAS, it is understood that direct funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs Central Office has been provided to such programs as alcohol abuse, drug abuse, day treatment centers, spinal cord injury centers, etc., AND
WHEREAS, more efficient and timely services could be provided to eligible blinded veterans if a similar approach was taken to the funding of Full-Time Coordinators for VISTs, THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Portland, Oregon, on this 22nd day of August 2009, hereby strongly urges the Department of Veterans Affairs to take prompt, positive action to provide funding for Full-Time Coordinators of all remaining VISTs presently not so funded in the Department of Veterans Affairs system, AND
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Director of Blind Rehabilitation Service, Department of Veterans Affairs Central Office, should concur in the selection, placement, and assignment of staff personnel filling the positions of VIST Coordinators.
WHEREAS, visual impairments are the third most prevalent factor in limiting the activities of individuals, AND
WHEREAS, the prevalence of visual impairments of those aged 65 and over is eight times the rate for those under 65, and 50 percent of all visually impaired persons in the United States are over the age of 65, AND
WHEREAS, 70-80 percent of individuals over age 65 currently classified as legally blind can be helped to perform daily living functions by low vision or vision rehabilitation services, AND
WHEREAS, financial resources are often a key factor in receiving such assistance, AND
WHEREAS, under current law, vision rehabilitation services and aids for the blind are excluded from coverage by Medicare or Medicaid, THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Portland, Oregon on this 22nd day of August 2009, supports coverage under Medicare and Medicaid programs of vision aids for visually impaired persons eligible for Medicare and Medicaid.
WHEREAS, federal funding for stipends and fellowships for students in personnel training programs to be teachers of the visually handicapped, Orientation and Mobility Instructors, Rehabilitation Teachers, and counselors for the blind have been reduced each year since 1976, AND
WHEREAS, the reduction of funding has caused many professional preparation programs to reduce faculty positions, closed many programs, and frustrated development of high caliber personnel, AND
WHEREAS, these reductions in funds have forced the programs to reduce the number of students accepted, and the reduction in stipends has made it difficult to recruit applicants for study in numbers equal to program capacity, AND
WHEREAS, the incidence of blindness and visual impairment is expected to dramatically increase over the next fifteen years while the number of qualified graduates continues to decrease, AND
WHEREAS, the shortage of qualified professionals in work with blind persons has, in some instances, caused a shift to service provision by persons with general education who have no knowledge of the unique needs of blind persons, AND
WHEREAS, the only certain means of assuring stipends and fellowships for students to alleviate the shortage is through categorical funding, THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Portland, Oregon on this 22nd day of August 2009, urges the U.S. Congress to enact legislation to fund categorical programs for professional preparation of education and rehabilitation personnel serving people who are severely visually impaired and blind, AND
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED, that BVA encourage the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Academic Affairs to explore partnering with university preparation programs to assure an adequate supply of professionally trained Vision Rehabilitation specialists.
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