Full Steam Ahead for 66th Convention

“The City That Never Sleeps” and BVA’s Southern Nevada Regional Group, both serving as hosts for the Blinded Veterans Association’s 66th National Convention will welcome more than 175 blinded veterans for a week of official Association business, informative seminars, and pure Las Vegas enjoyment.

Convening August 16-20 at the downtown Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino, veterans will be joined by an additional 180 convention attendees comprised of family members, friends, exhibitors of the latest technology, and guest speakers.

“I say with confidence that this convention could definitely be the one that no BVA member will want to miss,” said National President Dr. Roy Kekahuna, himself a member of the Southern Nevada Regional Group. “We have been hard at work for several months in preparation for another great national gathering of our wonderful friends and fellow blinded veterans.”

Major activities during the week will include a keynote address by Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric K. Shinseki at the Opening Business Session on August 17, also to be attended by Representative Shelley Berkley (D-NV-1).

Two exhibit halls will feature 40 booths displaying technology and other aids for the blind and visually impaired. A Friday morning (August 19) forum consisting of four individual speakers will address the subjects of vision research and rehabilitation.

An additional highlight of the convention will be BVA’s traditional Father Carroll Memorial Luncheon, named for the organization’s first National Chaplain. Speaking at the event will be Dr. Gregory L. Goodrich, Supervisory Research Psychologist at the VA Western Blind Rehabilitation Center in Palo Alto, California.

Meetings of the BVA Board of Directors, Field Service Staff, and Auxiliary will also occur simultaneously throughout the week.

Colonel Donald Gagliano, Director of the newly created VA-Department of Defense (DoD) Vision Center of Excellence (VCE), will be attending many of the convention functions while, at the same time, conducting a first ever joint DoD-VA eye care conference at the same Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino. Colonel Gagliano organized the conference as a forum for discussion on vision technology and vision research. Approximately 80 optometrists and ophthalmologists from both VA and DoD will participate.

Now in its sixth year, BVA’s Operation Peer Support initiative will host 17 recently blinded service members and their families at the convention. The group will include three men sent from St Dunstan’s, BVA’s sister organization in the United Kingdom. The chief aim of Operation Peer Support is for recently blinded veterans to meet and gain strength from BVA’s longtime members, the annual convention serving as a means by which such interaction may begin to occur. A series of educational training sessions and recreational activities are part of this year’s Operation Peer Support convention itinerary.

The BVA general membership will also meet on the convention’s final day to elect new officers, select future convention sites, and vote on proposed bylaw amendments and official resolutions for the coming year.