BVA To Meet With United Kingdom's Ministry of Defense Surgeon General

On Monday, May 21, senior executives from the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) will have the honor of meeting with Surgeon General of the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence, Major General Martin Bricknell, at the British Embassy in Washington DC.

This visit is part of BVA’s ongoing Project Gemini goals of fostering continued relationships between the allied nations highlighting vision rehabilitation services, military eye trauma management, and research. Project Gemini reflects our efforts as two non-governmental non-profit veteran service organizations supporting our visually wounded service members, veterans, and their families started in May 2011. This meeting will be the third time BVA members have had an opportunity to meet with the UK Surgeon Generals since May 2012.

Maj. Joe Bogart, BVA Executive Director, Melanie Brunson, Director of Public Relations, and Col. Don Gagliano MC. (Ret. USA.) who is an honorary BVA board member and Chairman BVA Medical & Research Committee will all meet with SG Bricknell to discuss future joint cooperation on military eye injuries.

Four American blinded veterans will be in Wales, May 20-27, 2018 for a six-day educational exchange to share knowledge, insights, and friendship with their British war blinded comrades as this exchange continues in Wales for the 8th Project Gemini exchange. The international recognized initiative, known as Project Gemini, successfully began in May 2011 as a joint venture of Blind Veterans UK and the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA), headquartered in Washington, DC. In late May 2011, six veterans made a similar trip with some of the same activities that awaited the 2012 group.

Tom Zampieri, Project Gemini Coordinator, stated that “As result of Project Gemini, which is an outgrowth of Operation Peer Support, a BVA program begun in 2006 that brings together veterans of recent conflicts with those who have lost their sight in Vietnam, Korea, or during World War II, we now have this great international partnership.” The objective of the initiatives and Project Gemini program said Zampieri, “Is to provide veterans who have lost their sight recently with opportunities to interact with men and women who have led happy and prosperous lives despite their blindness and who can serve as role models and mentors.” The cornerstone of this is to build cooperation on supporting our eye wounded or injured service members in the transition from the military into veteran status.

In 2008, BVA sponsored the participation of three service members from across the Atlantic at its 63rd National Convention in Phoenix. Project Gemini returned the favor with the 2011 trip to England. St. Dunstan’s was founded in 1915 shortly before the outbreak of World War I. BVA traces its beginnings back to March 28, 1945 when a group of war-blinded servicemen met at Avon Old Farms Convalescent Hospital near Avon, Connecticut. BVA appreciates the support and donations that have made this Project Gemini such a big success.