BVA Remembers Pearl Harbor (12/6/2017) 
   BVA Remembers Pearl Harbor

BVA Remembers Pearl Harbor


The Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) today released the following statement on the 76th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor:

“On this day in 1941, a surprise aerial attack on Pearl Harbor created a devastating loss in life and launched the U.S.’s involvement into World War II. More than 2,000 Americans were killed, including 68 civilians. Nine ships of the U.S. fleet were sunk and 21 ships were severely damaged.

Today, we remember and honor those who served on that historic day, and we thank those who came to the nation’s defense following the attack. We also show gratitude toward those who continue to serve our nation, and those who have already given their lives for the cause of freedom. As many are still in harm’s way, we owe them our support and appreciation.”


 Blind Appalachian Trail Event (12/4/2017) 
   Blind Appalachian Trail Event

Blind Appalachian Trail Event


Blind Appalachian Trail (B-A-T) program is run by the Blinded Veterans Association Operation Peer Support (BVA OPS) to get visually impaired veterans of various abilities out to experience the Appalachian Trail. Participants will complete sections of the trail over time, around specific dates to memorialize great military accomplishments that represent the freedom gained by overcoming our adversaries. The idea is to allow participants the opportunity to overcome their own adversities they face through their injuries and to raise awareness and understanding with the general public and those that may be out there that may have their own challenges.

Our first mission will begin in June of 2018. American & British Blind Veterans will trek and traverse the Georgia section of the Appalachian Trail. Supported by guides and local communities, the international expedition party will travel 75+ miles over rugged and rocky terrain reaching elevation heights of 4,400 feet from the Georgia border at Bly Gap to Springer Mountain. The veterans who will participate in this hike are motivated, dedicated and driven to memorialize the June 6, 1944 Allied forces invasion of Normandy, France. During their march the team members will discuss important historical facts and history of the June 1944 invasion, all the while remembering those honorable service members who came before them.

For more information about the tournament and the day’s activities onsite, please visit www.blindat.org/.


 BVA Spouses to Attend 2nd Annual National Convening (10/30/2017) 
   BVA Spouses to Attend 2nd Annual National Convening: The Military Caregiver Journey, Hosted by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation

BVA Spouses to Attend 2nd Annual National Convening: The Military Caregiver Journey, Hosted by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation


(WASHINGTON, D.C., October 30, 2017) -- On November 13, 2017, The Elizabeth Dole Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, caregivers are invited to participate in a critical conversation to define the military and veteran caregiver journey and the roles each of us play in supporting their journey towards empowerment. With your help, our nation can expand support for military caregivers.

The daylong event will comprise of the emotional hardship and sharing of experiences. With former First Lady Bush being the keynote speaker, the event will also be a platform for Lindsey Smith and Jessica Harrison to share their experiences.

Lindsey Smith wife of Sergeant First Class (RET) Dale Smith got married on September 10, 2001. Earlier that year, Dale joined the U.S. Army to become an Infantryman. Dale served 3 tours overseas in both Afghanistan and Iraq. In July of 2011, Dale was severely wounded in combat when he was shot in the head by an enemy sniper. Due to his injury, he suffered complete blindness to both eyes, a severe traumatic brain injury, and a stroke. Over the last 6 years, Lindsey has cared for Dale and their three children, Cadence (11), Sage (7), and Dallin (4) as they have worked to regain their life and overcome the challenges of his injury.

Jessica Harrison wife of USMC Corporal Nate Harrison have been married for 15 years. They have 3 boys, Payton (12), Corwin (9) and Truman (5). They live in Kansas City, MO, where Nate is a Police Officer. In December of 2015, Nate got into a Motorcycle accident that left him with life threatening injuries. Jessica never gave up even though she was told that Nate had less than a 1% chance of survival. Nate was in a coma for 5 weeks but, God gave the family a miracle and he woke up January 14th. She has been his caretaker since the day of his accident were Nate had lost his right leg, had a TBI, he also was left blind.

The Elizabeth Dole Foundation is the preeminent organization empowering, supporting, and honoring our nation’s 5.5 million military caregivers; the spouses, parents, family members, and friends who care for America’s wounded, ill, or injured veterans. For more information and to register to the free event, visit them at elizabethdolefoundation.org.

Now in its 73rd year of service and chartered by the United States Congress, BVA was founded by a group of 100 World War II veterans blinded in combat. Its mission is the creation of opportunities for blinded veterans to help one another. The organization offers a wide range of services to help veterans and their families meet the challenges of blindness. For more information about BVA and its services, call toll-free 800-669-7079 or visit bva.org.


 BVA Sends Help to Veterans Affected by Hurricane Maria (10/27/2017) 
   BVA Sends Help to Veterans Affected by Hurricane Maria

Blinded Veterans Send Aid to Vets Affected by Maria, Thank Donors Who Contributed to the Effort


(WASHINGTON, D.C., October 27, 2017) -- The Blinded Veterans Association (BVA), a national Veterans Service Organization exclusively dedicated to meeting the needs of the approximately 130,000 blind and visually impaired veterans and their families nationwide, seeks to help the more than 2,000 such veterans currently living through the aftermath of one of the most devastating series of hurricanes in American history.

“As rains finally dissipate and floodwaters subside, many of our veterans find themselves lacking not only basic goods and services, but the specialized equipment they rely on to help them cope with their blindness,” said BVA Executive Director Al Avina. Avina said that when flood waters damaged or destroyed these veterans’ homes, they also took magnifiers, specially equipped computers, white canes, and other vital equipment that these veterans had to leave behind when they evacuated. Such items are hard to replace.

In order to help veterans cope with the loss of their equipment, BVA is sending boxes full of items including adaptive technology and basic daily necessities, along with thousands of dollars in gift cards, to VA medical centers in Puerto Rico so they can be distributed to blind and visually impaired veterans on the island. This shipment was made possible by generous contributions from LS&S Group LLC, of Buffalo, New York, which sells products for people with disabilities, the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, BVA members, and supporters from around the country.

Mr. Avina said that BVA is thankful for the generosity of both individual members and businesses across the nation who contributed cash, clothing, and other items to help veterans impacted by the hurricanes this year. Earlier, BVA was able to send aid to thousands of veterans in Texas, Florida and Louisiana, and now, “with the help of so many caring people,” more supplies are being shipped to Puerto Rico to aid visually impaired veterans there.

Now in its 73rd year of service and chartered by the United States Congress, BVA was founded by a group of 100 World War II veterans blinded in combat. Its mission is the creation of opportunities for blinded veterans to help one another. The organization offers a wide range of services to help veterans and their families meet the challenges of blindness. For more information about BVA and its services, call toll-free 800-669-7079 or visit bva.org.


 British & US Blinded Veterans Unite at 13th Annual Major Charles Robert Soltes Memorial Golf Event (9/29/2017) 
   British and U.S. Blinded Veterans Unite at 13th Annual Major Charles Robert Soltes Memorial Golf Event

British and U.S. Blinded Veterans Unite at 13th Annual Major Charles Robert Soltes Memorial Golf Event


(IRVINE, CALIFORNIA, September 29, 2017) -- Six blinded American veterans and six British blinded comrades will share rehabilitation experiences that tell the story of their personal adjustment to blindness at the 13th Annual Major Charles Robert Soltes Memorial Golf Tournament in Irvine, California on Monday, October 9, 2017. The Project Gemini group will join golfers for the annual competition to honor Major Soltes on Monday, at the Oak Creek Golf Club. In October 2004, Major Soltes became the first U.S. Army optometrist-soldier killed in action while serving on active duty in Iraq.

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 are also recognizing the joint historical significance of the WWI centennial and its impact on the beginnings of war blind rehabilitation programs in America in 1917. This week’s events will also emphasize the importance of increased cooperation, and understanding between the allied nations.

The participants will spend five days together in activities beginning with the golf event on Monday. On Tuesday, they will visit the Gary Sinise Foundation in LA, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and be hosted at American Legion Post #43. The remainder of the week will include: sailing with California Sailing at Newport Beach on Wednesday; a tour of the Maj. Charles R. Soltes Jr. OD VA Blind Rehabilitation Center, followed by blind archery on Thursday; and on Friday International Rowing, and a White Cane Day event at the Long Beach VA Medical Center.

The Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) is a non-profit Veterans Service Organization that uses funds raised at the golf tournament for its Operation Peer Support (OPS) initiative, which supports various events during the year. OPS bring together Gulf War I and Gulf War II era blinded veterans to share their experiences, and also participate in various sports events throughout the year.

The BVA veterans taking part this year include; Corporal Steve Baskis, Army First Sergeant Dan Wallace, Sgt. Monaca Gilmore, Specialist Tina Limus, Navy Petty Officer Scott Scieszinski, Lieutenant Brian "Ski" Donarski, Corporal Nate Harrison, and Army Ranger volunteer Joe Amerling (Ret.) all of whom are Gulf War I or Gulf War II era veterans. Maj Thomas Zampieri (Ret.) is a BVA board member and will attend for the sixth time. There are 5,000 men and women in the U.S. who have been affected by penetrating eye injuries. In addition, there are an estimated 35,000 wounded in the VA health care system with suspected TBI vision system impairments. UK Participants include: Colin Williamson, president of Blind UK; Army Corporal John Robinson, Lance Corporal Mark Heaume, Trooper Darren Blanks, Corporal Christopher Strudwick, Corporal Kelly Ganfield, BVUK recreation staff Louise Timms.

The goal of Project Gemini is to develop public awareness within the two nations regarding vision loss resulting from trauma, and the recovery process. The BVA was organized March 28, 1945. Its motto is “blinded veterans helping blinded veterans.” The organization connects veterans and their families to each other (www.bva.org). Blind Veterans UK was founded in 1915 as a charity whose purpose was to train and support soldiers blinded in the First World War. The organization has continued for 102 years, and gone on to support more than 35,000 blind veterans and their families, including those involved in recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. http://www.blindveterans.org.uk

BVA and Blind Veterans UK are available for interviews and photos, during the day of the golf event or at other events during the Project Gemini week. For more information about the tournament and the day’s activities onsite, please contact (www.soltesmemorial.com) or Tom Zampieri at 301-204-3291 or Steve Baskis cell 270-404-6905.


Recent Posts

BVA Remembers Pearl Harbor

Posted on 12/6/2017
BVA Remembers Pearl Harbor

Blind Appalachian Trail Event

Posted on 12/4/2017
Blind Appalachian Trail Event

BVA Spouses to Attend 2nd Annual National Convening

Posted on 10/30/2017
BVA Spouses to Attend 2nd Annual National Convening: The Military Caregiver Journey, Hosted by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation

BVA Sends Help to Veterans Affected by Hurricane Maria

Posted on 10/27/2017
BVA Sends Help to Veterans Affected by Hurricane Maria

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

Posted on 9/29/2017
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British & US Blinded Veterans Unite at 13th Annual Major Charles Robert Soltes Memorial Golf Event

Posted on 9/29/2017
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Blinded Veterans Seek Candidates for National Chaplain Post

Posted on 9/8/2017
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Life Membership Dues Returned to Previous Rates

Posted on 9/6/2017
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