Photographing When Legally Blind
Indiana Regional Group
Members of the Indiana Regional Group,
spearheaded by group President James McGuire, have donated $1,600 to the
Indiana Veterans Home to purchase four 26-inch television sets. The TVs
will be placed in the facility's guest rooms.
On hand for the January 11
presentation to Indianapolis VA Medical Center Director Tom Mattice were
Veterans Affairs Voluntary Services (VAVS) Deputy John McCallister,
VAVS Representative Freddie Edwards, and the aforementioned VAVS
Volunteer James McGuire. All three are members of BVA.
The need for a donation and a
recommendation to make it happen was brought to James' attention by
other deputies and representatives at the facility. The regional group
then came through with the necessary funds.
According to Lisa Sissom, Program
Support Assistant for Volunteer Services at the Indianapolis facility,
members of the regional group have traditionally worked tirelessly to
provide donations for Medical Center services.
They have supported ward
renovation projects, patient comfort items purchases, and the
procurement of adaptive items to improve the quality of life of blinded veterans. They also aided in the sponsoring of the 2008 National Veterans Golden Age Games.
BVA Honored by
St. Louis Society
The St. Louis Society for the Blind and
Visually Impaired has honored the Blinded Veterans Association with its
distinguished Centennial Legacy Award for "its unwavering support and
advocacy for veterans nationwide since the Association was founded in
Chairman of the Board of Directors of
the Society Ron Hampp presented a framed plaque engraved with both text
and Braille to Tom Miller on April 9 at its 100th Anniversary black tie
gala VIP reception and awards dinner.
Ron Hampp reads BVA award citation at St. Louis Society centennial dinner gala.
Themed "Celebrate a Century: EnVISION the
Future," the gala was hosted at the "Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark
Hotel" adjacent to the stadium.
Other honorees included Paul Wittmer,
World War II veteran and Society client. He was recognized for his
research and writing on submarine warfare during the war. Dr. Harry
Quigley of Johns Hopkins University was honored for his research and
development of techniques for treating glaucoma.
William DeWitt III, President of the
St. Louis Cardinals, was also honored for his family's three generations
and 90-plus years of executive leadership in professional baseball,
dating back to 1917 when St. Louis Society for the Blind founder and
baseball executive James Jones brought a young William DeWitt into the
Cardinal front office.
BVA Seeks Applicants
for Midwestern Office
Applications are sought from blinded
veterans interested in the position of Field Service Representative for
Region IV, to be based at the Hines VA Hospital in Hines, Illinois, just
BVA members are encouraged to apply
and/or make the opportunity known to qualified blinded veterans
throughout the country.
BVA Field Service Representatives
provide a range of services to blinded veterans and their families,
including benefits counseling, representation as a National Service
Officer, and referral to VIST Coordinators and other VA service points.
Field reps also monitor BVA volunteer office activities, assist regional
groups, and work to promote the Association's national programs. A
20-hour-per-week, part-time sighted assistant is provided.
Applicants must be veterans and at
least legally blind. They must have attended a Blind Rehabilitation
Center and be computer literate as well as demonstrate superior written
and oral communication and interpersonal skills. They must also serve as
role models for other blinded veterans. Some travel is required.
The position is a career opportunity
with potential for advancement. BVA offers a salary commensurate with
education and work history, a benefits package, and opportunities for
travel and training.
For further information or to apply,
please call Stephen Matthews, National Director of the Field Service
Program, at 202-371-8880 or 800-669-7079. Resumes may be emailed to
firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to 202-371-8258. They may also be sent via
the U.S. Postal Service to BVA National Headquarters, 477 H Street NW,
Washington DC 20001.
Benefit Possibly Unclaimed
By Many, Says Field Rep
Some blinded veterans with
combat-related injuries may be unaware that they are eligible for
Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC), according to BVA Region II
Field Service Representative Claudia Perry.
"Along with a diagnostic code sheet that can
be obtained from our Field Service offices, the form needed for filing
for CRSC is DD Form 2860," she said. "This is only for Chapter 61
veterans (medical retirement) or retirees who have a combat-related
injury, but I am not certain that all eligible blinded veterans are
receiving this benefit."
Blind Veterans Internet (BVI) Radio was launched in early April by a member of the BVA Florida Regional Group.
Paul Kaminsky of Middleburg, Florida,
came up with the idea to provide an additional forum for discussion of
veterans' issues and an opportunity for blinded veterans to participate
in events that would otherwise be out of their reach.
"I'm still in the learning phase but
hopefully I will be broadcasting the Florida Regional Group State
Convention at the end of the month," said Paul in early April. "Persons
not able to attend may tune in and perhaps become motivated to attend in
According to Paul, the current
programming is simple with the setup of a loop that runs two songs
followed by BVA, DAV, and VA promotional audio spots. He hopes future
programming will contain time-blocked segments such as training
seminars, weekly chat room sessions, and talk sessions similar to those
webcast on ACB Radio.
"There are so many avenues we can open and
travel down in order to make this new site something special," he said.
"As always, I am open to creative suggestions from those who will give
it a try and be willing to tell me what they think."
For Community Service
Dale Stamper, BVA Director of District 4, received his city's Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Citizen Award for 2011.
A resident of Hayden, Idaho, Dale was one of six honorees at a
banquet held March 26 at the Hayden Country Club. He was accompanied by
his wife, Cora, and sons Rob and Dan. The featured speaker at the
banquet was former New York Yankee pitcher Don Larsen, the only player
in history to pitch a perfect game in the World Series (1957 against the
crosstown rival Brooklyn Dodgers). Larsen is also a resident of the
Dale and Cora Stamper visited with legendary pitcher Don Larsen following March 26 banquet in Hayden.
The six awards presented spelled out the
word "Hayden," the name of the city. H is for Humanitarian, A for Arts, Y
for Youth (either a young person or someone working with youths), D for
Distinguished Citizen, E for Education, and N for New Business.
The criteria that qualified Dale for
the honor was his active involvement in two Veterans Service
Organizations, his counseling and speaking activities as a minister, and
the self-sufficiency he has demonstrated throughout his life,
especially since losing his sight.
The nomination, composed by Dale's
Disabled American Veterans Chapter Auxiliary Commander, Marilyn R. Hunt,
USN (Ret.), described the manner in which he has shoveled his own
driveway and sidewalk since 1970 by "graphing off in his mind" the
proportions of the area and then systematically getting the job done.
The feat is more impressive since the driveway is on a slope that can
make the job challenging and at times even dangerous.
"Mr. Dale Stamper is a model citizen of the
Hayden community and an outstanding example of how a person who is
totally blind can overcome his catastrophic disabilities in a stellar
manner," the nomination stated. "He is a shining example to others in
Focus Group on Intrepid
Includes NY Blinded Vets
Two members of the Blinded Veterans
Association's New York Regional Group, Ron White and Enrique Sanchez,
were among a group of blind and visually impaired individuals from the
New York City Metropolitan Area invited to act as consultants for a
study conducted by the Education and Access staff of the Intrepid Sea,
Air, and Space Museum.
Enrique Sanchez, left, and Ron White aboard Intrepid during special focus group activities coordinated by Art Education for the Blind.
The multicultural group of adults in their
mid-20s to late 70s in age came together on April 14 aboard the
Intrepid, located on the west side of Manhattan on the banks of the
The inclusion of BVA members came about as a result of BVA's
partnership with Art Education for the Blind (AEB), based in New York.
Enrique learned of the opportunity from New York Regional Group
President Dennis O'Connell.
Individuals interested in participating in
the four-hour event were required to contact the Intrepid's Education
and Access Coordinator, Miranda Appelbaum. The focus group's purpose was
to evaluate two tactile descriptive booklets and determine the ease or
difficulty with which they were understood. The group's members then
made recommendations for the final product, which will eventually
consist of approximately 14 pages.
Seven different sections of the
booklet described various museum displays. Members of the group sat in
front of the displays in small, easy-to-carry folding chairs that were
issued to them, along with the descriptive book and a scanning pen. The
scanning pen read back the description of what they touched on the open
page of the book and provided directions on how to activate the detailed
information provided for each display (the pen had an internal digital
recorder and an audio output at its upper end).
Each individual, guided by a sighted
museum employee, visited three displays described in the test booklet.
Everyone then met in a designated meeting room location where a
debriefing took place. Group members were given the opportunity to give
their evaluation of the effectiveness of the tactile booklet, the
ease-of-use of the scanning pen, and the meaningfulness of the
information provided for each display.
According to Ron, there were a few
definitive questions such as "Was the pen easy to use?" Most questions
were open-ended, giving the group members the opportunity to describe
their experience in detail.
"All of the participants felt strongly that a very productive session had occurred," he said.
Both Enrique and Ron were impressed
with the process and felt certain that the efforts of the group would
assist the Intrepid staff in efforts to provide a meaningful,
satisfying, and educational experience for blind and low-vision
As Enrique and Ron departed the Intrepid, AEB Project Coordinator
Marie Clapot informed them that the grant for the present study is for
two years and that AEB would be sponsoring at least one group tactile
tour of the museum to be conducted free of charge for blinded veterans.
Clapot said that the first tour would
be scheduled for sometime in May of this year and encouraged them to
"spread the word." Other Intrepid staff members made comments about
looking forward to working more with blinded veterans in the future.
Blinded and visually impaired persons
interested in these special "tactile" and escorted "touch" tours for
groups should contact Miranda Appelbaum at 646-381-5161.
Blinded Vets Score Again
In Texas Gumbo Cook-Off
Three blinded veterans from the Greater
Houston Regional Group, now known in community circles for their cooking
skills, demonstrated their public relations savvy while at the same
time winning another gumbo cook-off at Clear Lake Park's Landholt
Pavilion in Harris County, Texas.
It was the second time in three years
that the trio, Ronnie Anderson, George Boe, and Herb Robchaux, and
respective spouses Sharon, Martina, and Rae have finished first in the
"Being blind and participating in a cook-off
is something else," said Ronnie. "Many wonder how we do it and ask
questions about blindness and whom to contact for help.
The group was well prepared with responses about VA blind rehabilitation programs and literature from BVA.
"We find many who know absolutely nothing about what VA has to offer," he said. "It's a great opportunity for us."
Ronnie admitted that although a
sighted individual is used to light the fires, the three BVA members can
do pretty much everything else in the gumbo preparation, which is all
done from scratch.
"In shock, we once again went on stage when
they announced that Team Blinded Veterans Association had taken first
place," he said.
Ingredients for the gumbo, placed in
an eight-gallon pot, include shrimp, crawfish, chicken, okra, regular
onions, green onions, and rice on demand. Cooking time is approximately
NC BVA Member to Visit
World War II Memorial
World War II blinded veteran and BVA member
Harry Troop, North Carolina Regional Group, will be one of the
beneficiaries of Flight of Honor, a service project of Rotary District
7680 that honors the lives, valor, and courage of World War II veterans
who live in midwestern North Carolina.
The project will bring Harry to
Washington, DC on May 21 to visit the World War II Memorial, all
expenses paid. The trip includes transportation, a catered lunch, and a
booklet with a biography of each veteran on the flight.
A photo CD of
the trip is compiled and mailed to every veteran after the trip.
Although the number of veterans traveling to Washington was
unknown at press time, a similar trip brought more than 100 veterans to
the Memorial in 2009.
Flight of Honor is the continuation of
the vision and objective of North Carolina's Honor Air, which seeks to
send every local World War II veteran to the memorial.