Letters to the Editor
One Vet Making A Difference
A new VIST Coordinator is now working in Charlotte, North Carolina. She is Dana Draa, a Navy veteran. Dana is very pleased to have been hired for the position. As a former Information Technology adaptive instructor for the North Carolina Department of Blind Services, she is knowledgeable about the JAWS and Zoom Text programs.
BVA as an organization certainly supported and advocated for the creation of this new position. Nevertheless, the efforts of one blinded veteran, Roger Wiker of Cornelius, North Carolina, and a member of the North Carolina Regional Group, made all of the difference. Roger effectively corresponded with his Senators, the Medical Center Director, and several others in order to get this position established.
Roger Wiker is a great example of how the outstanding efforts of one blinded veteran can make a meaningful impact in and on a regional group, a community, or the services available to him and his fellow veterans.
Silver Spring, Maryland
Region II Field Service Representative
Only on rare occasions during the past 11 years have I felt it sufficiently important to comment directly to our Bulletin readers in this section of the publication. This is one of those instances.
In our last issue, we reported that Tom Bove of the New York Regional Group was President of the Eastern Blind Rehabilitation Center Alumni Association. This was incorrect. Tom is the Treasurer while Kevin Whalen of the Massachusetts Regional Group is President. Dennis O'Connell of the New York Group is the Secretary. I apologize for the inaccuracy.
Also, readers who consistently read the Bulletin will recall that a recent Around BVA entry featured the following subheading: "Bulletin Audiocassettes Soon To Be Obsolete." The information that followed indicated that our audiocassette version would soon be provided in an alternative format since cassettes were no longer being produced and/or sold in any area of the world. We were surprised when additional sources of the cassettes were located. This has occurred to the chagrin of some and to the relief of others. We do expect a change rather soon now and the plan is to come up with the most efficient and cost-effective manner of replacing the cassettes with a new medium.
Finally, Ms. Lawna DeLong's remarks below are a tribute to her late husband and all of our World War II veterans who lost their sight in service to the Nation or have done so later on—and who worked hard to firmly establish the Blinded Veterans Association in the mid-1940s. A list of approximately 80 "BVA Founding Fathers" was produced in 1995 for our 50th anniversary special issue of the Bulletin. It is believed that the names on that list were limited to the persons in attendance at the Avon Old Farms meeting that organized BVA on March 28, 1945. I have learned over the years that a few names, such as that of Al Therrien (see Around BVA, "Association Recalls Founding Member,") should have been included but were inadvertently left off. Al told me personally that he was at the meeting. Others, such as Chuck DeLong and Smith Shumway, may have arrived at Old Farms a short time after the historic meeting but worked as tirelessly as anyone to help the organization grow and progress. Dozens of others, including veterans such as Otis Scott, Robert Routh, Jack Shapiro, and Robert Bottenberg, certainly followed suit. Perhaps some additional thought should be given to what constitutes a BVA Founding Father!
Spouse Reflects on WWII Veteran Virtues
My husband, Charles Joseph DeLong, enlisted at age 18 in the Army Air Corps. We had been married only two and a half years when he went overseas during World War II.
On September 5, 1944, he was blinded by an explosion in Le Mans, France. After months of pain from shrapnel wounds, Chuck was sent to Valley Forge Hospital in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.
After two years of surgeries, he was sent to Old Farms Convalescent Hospital at Avon, Connecticut. I was able to stay close to him there after finding a job in Avon. He was an inspiration to me in never complaining about his blindness during his rehabilitation. He and Smith Shumway, a close friend, were among other blinded veterans who formed BVA. I do not believe this is known.
Chuck was discharged from the service in July 1946. We returned to Montgomery, Alabama, where he enrolled at Huntingdon College. He graduated with honors and got a job with the Veterans Administration.
Chuck's positive attitude at Avon Old Farms continued throughout his life. He never let blindness or leg pain keep him from enjoying life. For example, when our two sons became Boy Scouts he became a leader and went on overnight campouts and hikes. Our boys had horses so he often road a horse alongside one of them.
I have wonderful memories of my life with Chuck.