President's Page BVA President Norman Jones

by Norman Jones

First and foremost, Happy New Year to you and yours. As we move further into 2008, please keep in mind that the number “eight” in Biblical terms means a new beginning. Let us therefore begin 2008 on the right foot with a new mindset concerning ourselves, those around us, and, of course the Blinded Veterans Association.

I have done considerable thinking recently regarding my own mindset and what I could change this year. I’ve also extended that thinking to include all of us as blinded veterans, taking into account recent conversations I have had with many of you.

I have noticed, for example, that many of you who are service connected have not inquired about receiving increased compensation due to a disability that has worsened over the years. Unfortunately, VA will not send you a letter or call to check on your individual situations. It is your job to make the effort yourselves. In the event you fall into this category, please do not delay further. Please call your BVA service officer immediately and then strive to make this a resolution each new year.

For you nonservice-connected veterans, have you similarly checked to see if you qualify for a nonservice-connected pension? If you are a widow of a veteran, have you checked to determine if you qualify for a widow’s pension? Again in both cases, it is up to you to do the legwork and then apply if you are eligible.

Still another matter occupied my thoughts considerably as we entered into the New Year. Although I communicated this obsession in my first President’s Page immediately following the BVA 62nd National Convention, I once again emphasize that the issue of membership should be important to anyone who hopes that BVA will continue to grow and become a better organization in the future. I invite you to join me in doing something about this most urgent problem.

I recently sent a letter to all BVA regional group presidents and secretaries regarding membership. In closing this issue’s message, I share the first part of the letter as follows:

Fellow BVA Officer:

The accomplishments and challenges of 2007 have been permanently recorded in the annals of BVA history. Standing now with the challenges behind us, we enter the portals of 2008 with rolled-up sleeves, prepared to work as hard as ever.

My plan for this year is very simple and to the point: Increase membership. If it is our desire to maintain BVA as a strong, viable, and self-supporting service organization, we should be concerned about our survival! 

Here is the plan: If only half of us would dedicate ourselves to signing up but one new member by year’s end, we could boost our total membership by the enviable number of 5,000.

Can we possibly do this? Of course we can. How do I know we can? Because we are American veterans who have put our lives on the line to maintain freedom for the greatest country on the planet. Having done so, we are more than capable of finding a new BVA member.

To assist our regional groups, I have attached a suggested Public Service Announcement that can be distributed to radio and television stations in our respective localities at virtually no cost. I know that many of us could get involved in such an effort.

Please, however, do not stop there. Do any of you have family members who may qualify for membership? How about church members or other organizations to which you belong? Maybe you could tell your barber to be on the lookout. Maybe you could visit local organizations for the blind or VA outpatient clinics and medical centers a bit more frequently. How about considering the printing of personal business cards with your name, the name of our organization, and our national headquarters toll free telephone number?

Believe it or not, blinded veterans are everywhere. All that is left is to just do it! I am therefore commissioning you to go out there and find those that can benefit from BVA. I wish you all Godspeed and may God continue to bless America.