For Immediate Release
June 26, 2018
Veteran Honors Blinded Vets with Bronze Braille American Flags
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Walt Peters, member of the Blinded Veterans Association, is on a mission. His mission is to have Bronze Braille Flags placed in as many VA facilities throughout the United States as possible. He’s making steady progress as the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1088 in St. Mary’s, GA., donated a Bronze Braille Flag to the Malcom Randall VA Medical Center in Gainesville, FL, in June.
BVA National District 5 Director, Paul Kaminsky, was guest speaker at the Malcom Randall VA Medical Center during the dedication.
Produced by the Kansas Braille Transcription Institute, the Bronze Braille American Flag is only about 13" by 12” and weighs 7.5 lbs. Each flag has the Pledge of Allegiance written in Braille for anyone to feel, along with the stars and stripes, which have also been made tactile. This allows the mind’s eye to visualize the flag as it would be seen by a sighted observer. People without sight can appreciate the gesture and understand the power of its message. It’s meant to bring attention to the often-forgotten group of blind veterans in the area.
Walt is a legally blind Army veteran who was born in Jacksonville, Florida. He served as a special operations aviator in Vietnam.
Before moving back home to Jacksonville, Florida, he lived just outside Hunter Army Airfield and was a constant presence on the post. For six years, he cheered and counseled thousands of soldiers as they departed for or returned from a war zone.
“I’m a combat veteran, and I know how they feel,” he said. “I’m often the last person they see before taking off.” What he’s thinking when he sees them off, but not saying out loud: “When you put 350 kids on that plane, it breaks your heart because you know somebody’s likely to be killed or come back maimed.” You may have seen Walt on TV handing out American flags to departing soldiers.
In 2008, CNN network honored him for his service at Hunter Army Airfield. Since 2004, he’s greeted an estimated 20,000 soldiers.