Of Note


Upcoming Events Listed on BVA Site


The News page of the BVA website now contains a list of upcoming sports camps, programs, and activities for blind and visually impaired service members and veterans. Corresponding contact information is also provided. The list is by no means all-inclusive but enumerates, in chronological order, all of the events of which BVA has been made aware for the remainder of calendar year 2009.

Examples of the events include the National Veterans Golden Age Games June 1-5 in Birmingham, Alabama; the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes Goalball National Championships June 11-13 in Colorado Springs, Colorado; and the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Paralympics Military Sports Camp June 26-July 1 in Newport, Rhode Island. The BVA site contains dates and descriptions of the events along with their descriptions. It also includes links to individual event websites.

Go to www.bva.org//news/ for additional information.

Kussman Retires as Health Undersecretary


Dr. Michael J. Kussman, VA’s Under Secretary for Health, retired from federal service on May 9, ending a 37-year government career. The former U.S. Army Brigadier General and native of Troy, New York, had been employed with VA since 2000.

Dr. Gerald Cross, most recently the Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health at VA under Kussman since July 2007, will serve as Acting Under Secretary until a search has been conducted and a permanent appointment announced.

U.S. Mint Releases First Braille Coin


A silver dollar featuring readable Braille was recently released by the U.S. Mint in honor of Louis Braille’s 200th birthday.

The 400,000 Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar commemorative coins are the first ever to be produced and issued. Proceeds from sales of the coin, which start at $31.95, will promote Braille literacy programs.

The “heads” side of the new coin features a portrait of Louis Braille while the “tails” side portrays a child reading a book with the word “Braille” in the standard Braille abbreviation “BRL” above the figure. Unlike previous coins with Braille writing, such as the 1985 Paralympics coin, the dots representing the letters are large enough to be read.

Disabled Veterans Memorial Could Soon Be Reality


Momentum continues to build for the eventual construction in Washington, DC, of the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial on a triangular site adjacent to the National Mall and in full view of the U.S. Capitol. Completion and dedication are tentatively scheduled for 2011.

Tom Miller recently wrote a letter expressing BVA’s support of the project, which already has a proposed design and approximately $27 million of a necessary $33 million in donated funds. The Memorial’s central feature will be a star-shaped reflecting pool, its surface broken by a single eternal flame.

Once complete, the structure will serve three main purposes: to educate the public about patriotic service and the challenges of lasting disability; to honor the millions of brave men and women marked by service to their country and who sacrificed their livelihoods to protect the American way of life; and to remind national legislators of the humanistic cost of conflict and the need to care for those who have been permanently disabled in the military.

The Disabled Veterans’ LIFE Memorial Foundation was established in 1998 through the combined efforts of philanthropist Lois Pope, National Adjutant of the Disabled American Veterans Arthur Wilson, and the late former VA Secretary Jesse Brown.