WRBH-FM Reading Radio
Offers Unique Service
A local FM radio station based in New
Orleans is having an impact on the lives of the blind and visually
impaired not only within the city’s metropolitan region but all over the
WRBH-88.3 FM turns the printed word
into the spoken word so that the listener receives the same ease of
access to current information as those who read it. More than 200
volunteers make possible 24 hours of programming seven days a week and
52 weeks a year. The station is the only full-time reading service on
the FM dial in the United States and one of only three worldwide.
WRBH began as the dream of a New
Orleans mathematician, Dr. Robert McClean, who was blind himself.
McClean envisioned a reading radio station that would operate on the FM
dial rather than on sideband frequencies that require special radios to
pick up the signal. He wanted strong programming content that would
change and improve the lives of blind and visually impaired persons who
desired productive, fulfilling lives in their communities. He first
leased airtime from WWNO, then bought the 88.3 FM signal and rented
space from the Lighthouse for the Blind in New Orleans.
In 1982, WRBH became a 24-hour station
and moved on to purchase a house in uptown New Orleans, where the
studios operate today. McLean’s dream was fully realized in 2000 when
WRBH began streaming audio to the Internet.
The station offers the reading of The
Wall Street Journal, The Times-Picayune, weekly and monthly magazines,
listings of local events, grocery store ads, and both fiction and
nonfiction books. Several shows are also hosted in the studio, including
Writers Forum (an opportunity for local authors to discuss their work),
The Chef Show, and programming in both Spanish and Vietnamese.
WRBH’s target listening audience
includes the elderly who are beginning to experience loss of vision, the
illiterate, those with dyslexia, and individuals who are not able to
read for a time due to illness. It may also attract those who cannot
afford to purchase print media and may not have transportation to a
For access to WRBH audio streaming, visit the station’s website at www.wrbh.org
Support Line to
VA has initiated a toll-free National
Caregiver Support Line to provide information and help to family members
and loved ones who provide care for veterans living with the effects of
war, disability, chronic illness, or aging.
The line, housed at the VA Medical
Center campus in Canandaigua, New York, began operating on February 1.
It provides information on VA/community caregiver support resources and
referrals to Caregiver Support Coordinators located in every VA Medical
Center. Emotional support for the caregiver is also an integral
component of the service.
At present, the support line is also available to respond to
inquiries related to caregiver benefits associated with Public Law
111-163, the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of
Calls are answered by VA employees who are licensed clinical social workers.
The National Caregiver Support Line is
open for calls Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., and 10:30 a.m.
to 6 p.m. on Saturday. The toll-free number is 1-855-260-3274.
Golden Age Games
Set for Hawaii
More than 700 “golden age” veterans from
throughout the United States, including a handful of BVA members, will
travel to Honolulu, Hawaii, to participate in the 25th National Veterans
Golden Age Games May 26-31.
Sponsored by the VA Veterans Canteen
Service and Help Hospitalized Veterans, the national event emphasizes
recreational competition designed to improve the quality of life for all
older veterans, including those with a wide range of abilities and
disabilities. It is recognized among the most progressive and adaptive
rehabilitative senior sports programs in the world.
“To have this year’s Golden Age Games in
Hawaii has brought some logistical challenges to the event that took a
fair amount of creativity between the sponsors and coordinators,” said
Marilyn Iverson, director of Veterans Canteen Service. “But challenges
like this are well worth the effort, and I believe that everyone will
love the results.”
The Golden Age Games serve as a
qualifying event for competition in the National Senior Games in several
For more information about the
National Veterans Golden Age Games and other national rehabilitation
programs, visit VA’s website at www.veteransgoldenagegames.va.gov
Medical Forms to Streamline
Veterans Claim Process
VA has released three new disability
benefits questionnaires for physicians of veterans applying for VA
disability compensation and benefits. The initiative marks the beginning
of a major reform of the physicians’ guides and automated routines that
will streamline the claims process for injured or ill veterans.
The new questionnaires are the first
of 79 disability benefits questionnaires that will guide veterans’
personal physicians, as well as VA physicians, in the evaluation of the
most frequent medical conditions affecting veterans.
VA’s goal under Secretary Shinseki is
to process all claims in fewer than 125 days with a decision quality
rating no lower than 98 percent, a mark he has mandated to be met by
2015. The physician questionnaire project is one of more than three
dozen initiatives actively underway at VA, including a major technology
modernization that will lead to paperless claims processing.
2011 COLA Update
The Social Security Administration
confirmed on December 30 that no Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLAs)
would be made to Social Security benefits in 2011 because the Consumer
Price Index has not risen since 2008 when the last Social Security
Veterans, their families, and
survivors will also not see a COLA to their compensation and pension
benefits from VA in 2011. Under federal law, the COLAs to VA’s
compensation and pension rates are the same percentage as for Social
Lions World Services for the Blind (LWSB)
provides personal adjustment training, psychological testing and
counseling, pre-vocational evaluation, and vocational training to
individuals who are blind or visually impaired.
The program is housed in a complex of
six buildings in a residential area near the campus of the University of
Arkansas at Little Rock. Founded in 1939 by Roy Kumpe, an Arkansas
lawyer who had been blind since the age of eight, LWSB originally
trained and employed the blind to operate vending stands in government
Kumpe realized shortly after the
founding of LWSB that the blind and visually impaired were not
sufficiently independent to be successfully employed. In 1946, he
persuaded the Little Rock Founders Lions Club to provide $10,000 toward
financing the first rehabilitation center in the country under
non-governmental auspices. It was incorporated as Arkansas Enterprises
for the Blind.
In 1989, the name was changed to Lions
World Services for the Blind to better reflect the range of services
and international scope of the organization. The center is now the
largest, most complete of its kind in the world. It is financed by the
tuition paid by state rehabilitation agencies that purchase training
services from LWSB for their clients, by the financial support of the
Lions of Arkansas, surrounding states using the services, grants, and
Approximately 100 trainees are
involved in the on-campus program at any one time. The average period of
training is approximately six months. Other facilities include
dormitory buildings, a full-service cafeteria, and a 1,200-foot
greenhouse for clients training in the horticulture program.
For additional information, call 800-248-0734 or visit www.lwsb.org
Action Plan Aims to
Support Military Families
Joined by Cabinet members, administration
officials, VSO representatives, and Dr. Jill Biden, President Barack
Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama unveiled on January 24 the
administration’s action plan to strengthen military families.
The plan accompanied the release of the report “Strengthening Military Families: Meeting America’s Commitment.”
“Every day, U.S. service members—along with
their families—make sacrifices that benefit all Americans,” said
Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis following the unveiling. “The President
understands that providing necessary support strengthens not only these
individuals but our nation as a whole.”
The report was prepared by an
Interagency Policy Committee comprised of Cabinet staff and overseen by
the National Security Staff and the Domestic Policy Council. The
Committee then developed a government-wide plan that included components
such as ending homelessness among veterans and their families,
increasing career opportunities in the federal government and private
sector, and reducing barriers to employment and services.