U.S. Blinded Veterans Join with British Counterparts for Project Gemini Exchange in Southern CA.


(WASHINGTON, D.C., September 29, 2017) -- Members of the Congressionally Chartered Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) and their counterparts in the Blind Veterans United Kingdom are gathering in the Irvine area to mark the 13th anniversary of the Major Charles R. Soltes Jr. OD Memorial Golf Event on October 9, 2017 at the Oak Creek golf course. This event will kick off five days of activities for the group throughout L.A. and Orange Counties.

Project Gemini, so named for the transatlantic cable that connects the U.S. with England and Europe, was established by BVA and Blind Veterans UK, in May 2011 Each year four U.S. blinded veterans are hosted at the Blind Veterans UK facility in Brighton, England, with four of their counterparts in the UK. Project Gemini seeks to raise public awareness of the issues facing war veterans with vision loss and help them individually to discover opportunities for their lives after blindness. On March 24 of this year, Project Gemini was recognized in the UK with the “Soldiering on Award 2017” in the International Category. The award acknowledges the outstanding achievements of those who have served their country. It also recognizes individuals and groups who successfully work together with the Armed Forces community in the United Kingdom.

The goal of each Project Gemini exchange that has taken place during the past seven years is similar. We all learn from one another and share our experiences in the areas of blind rehabilitation, adaptive technology, recreational sports, and vision research. This year’s Project Gemini exchanges also are recognizing the joint historical significance of the WWI centennial and the impact on the beginnings of war blind rehabilitation programs in America in 1917. This week’s events in Southern California will also emphasize the importance of increased cooperation, and understanding between the allied nations. Below are some details and dates concerning the week’s events.

WHAT: Blinded Veterans Association join Blind Veterans UK Counterparts, Irvine, Long Beach, and LA area events.
WHEN: October 8-14, 2017.
WHERE: Various locations in and around Irvine;

  • Monday Major Charles R. Soltes Jr. OD Memorial Golf Event at Oak Creek golf course
  • Tuesday visit the Gary Sinise Foundation, tour Hollywood Walk of Fame, visit American Legion Post #43 LA
  • Wednesday afternoon California Sailing Newport Beach
  • Thursday morning tour Blind Rehabilitation Center and blind archery
  • Friday International Rowing Center Long Beach, followed by White Cane Day at Long Beach VA Medical Center

BVA PARTICIPANTS: Maj Tom Zampieri (Ret.); First Sergeant Dan Wallace; Corporal Steve Baskis; Sgt. Monaca Gilmore; Petty Officer Scott Scieszinski, Lieutenant Brian "Ski" Donarski, Corporal Tina Limus; Corporal Nate Harrison, and Army Ranger volunteer Joe Amerling; all BVA participants are Gulf War I or Gulf War II era veterans.

UK PARTICIPANTS: Colin Williamson, President of Blind Veterans UK; Army Corporal John Robinson, Lance Corporal Mark Heaume, Trooper Darren Blanks, Corporal Christopher Strudwick, Corporal Kelly Ganfield, and Blind Veterans UK Sports and Recreation Manager Louise Timms.

For information, contact Tom Zampieri at (301) 204-3291or visit www.Soltesmemorial.com.