Around BVA...

 

Wreath Laying Highlights DC Memorial Day Activities

 

BVA Executive Director Al Avina and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran James Nealey, somewhat weary from a full week of activities with Project Gemini in England, joined BVA Director of District 3 Joe Parker on May 27 in laying the traditional BVA wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery.

BVA’s presentation of a Memorial Day wreath at Arlington is an ongoing tradition that extends several decades since the national headquarters moved to the Nation’s Capital in October 1948. With just a couple of exceptions, they have occurred consecutively throughout the past 25 years on both Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

Flanked by Veterans of Foreign Wars escorts, Al Avina, James Nealey, and Joe Parker present BVA wreath to Honor Guard at Tomb of the Unknowns.
Flanked by Veterans of Foreign Wars escorts, Al Avina, James Nealey, and Joe Parker present BVA wreath to Honor Guard at Tomb of the Unknowns.

The event occurred just hours after Al and James had returned to Washington, DC via a transcontinental flight from London, where they exchanged stories, traditions, and living skills with their blinded veteran counterparts at Blind Veterans UK, BVA’s sister organization in Great Britain.

The wreath laying in which BVA and some 36 other military, veterans, and relief organizations participated was part of larger program in the Memorial Amphitheater that included speeches by President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey. Music was provided by the United States Air Force Band.

“So today we remember their service,” said President Obama in his address, referring to all who have laid down their lives in service to their country. “Today, just steps away from where these brave Americans lie in eternal peace, we declare, as a proud and grateful nation, that their sacrifice will never be forgotten and, just as we honor them, we hold their families close.”

Bulletin Now Read Six Different Ways

 

Each issue of the BVA Bulletin can now be accessed and read via email by visiting www.bva.org/bulletin.html, by reading the traditional print copy, or by receiving an audio CD through the U.S. Mail.

Email versions include the option of a PDF, which appears on a screen exactly as it does on paper, or a narrated text version that describes photos and graphics. Website users can choose between clicking on an mp3 file or by reading the text and viewing the photos online. Unlike all of the other versions, the version on the BVA website provides full color of all photos.

Bulletin readers who would like to receive the publication by email or CD and who have not already specified such a preference in the past should contact editor Stuart Nelson at snelson@bva.org or 202-371-8880, Ext. 316.

Eventful July 4 for Arkansas Veteran!

 

George Myers, Arkansas Regional Group, is one of 632 veterans now honored with an American flag along a walkway in front of St. Vincent Hospital in Morrilton, Arkansas. The flags are hoisted into the ground using PVC pipe on special days and patriotic holidays. Independence Day 2013 was the most recent display of the flags.

The name of the initiative, begun in 2007, is the Veterans Walk of Flags.

George Myers’ flag is the 66th of 632 flags honoring veterans along Arkansas walkway.
George Myers’ flag is the 66th of 632 flags honoring veterans along Arkansas walkway.

“Our local VFW is behind this project,” said George. “When we started out, we thought that getting 200 flags out there would be a fantastic accomplishment and now we have three times that number.”

Each flag and veteran represented by one receives a specific number. An application process initiated by veterans themselves or their families is required. George’s number is 66 and his father, a World War II veteran, is 65 in the sequence. His uncle is represented by the 357th flag.

The flags are a standard three by five feet and honor veterans, both living and deceased, from World War I through Operation Iraqi Freedom. There are not yet any names of OEF (Afghanistan) veterans on the flags. When displayed, individual flags can be located using printed a directory at the beginning of the walk.

The Veterans Walk of Flags is the brainchild of Jerry Perkins, a member of the VFW chapter who had seen combinations of similar ideas in Minnesota prior to spurring implementation of the walkway in Morrilton.

“I decided that this could be done here in Morrilton because of the type of community we have, and there has been a wonderful response every time we have put them up,” he said. “The hospital has been cooperative in allowing us to dig so many holes in the ground and the local media have also been very helpful to us.”

Perkins said there is a one-time fee to become part of the walk but that there are no other subsequent costs. He said that VFW agrees to perpetual care of the flag and replacement if/when it becomes damaged, tattered, or excessively worn. Although George lives near the site, any veteran from any location can be represented with a flag.

For more information about the Veterans Walk of Flags, call 501-354-2393.

FSP Regions Reorganized

 

BVA has conducted an extensive review of the concentration of veterans in different areas of the country and compared the results of the review with the existing locations and resources of Field Service Program Regional Officers.

The goal of the review was to better serve veterans who are blind or visually impaired.

“During the review, we considered both the number of veterans per state and the number of blind veterans in each one in order to come up with the best allocation of our Regional Service Officers,” said FSP Director Ed Eckroth. “We thank everyone for their support and look forward to serving our veterans in these new revitalized regions.”

The study resulted in a plan of action to occur in three phases.

From May 22 until August 5, job announcements were disseminated for newly created Regions 6 and 7. During this first phase, the regions did not change. Claims from Region 6 were handled by Judith Bouton at BVA National Headquarters.

A second phase August 5-26 will result in the projected office set-up for Regions 6 and 7, including the new Service Officers. Region 6 was projected to include Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, and Arizona. Region 7 will be comprised of California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Hawaii, Alaska, and Utah.

At press time, it had recently been determined that the Region 6 Service Officer opening would be filled with two part-time staffers, one to cover an area to be called Region 6 North (Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming) and the other to work in Region 6 South (Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma).

The third phase, which covers August 26-September 13, will complete the transformation. Regions 1 and 2 are not projected to change. Region 3 is projected to include Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. Region 4 will cover Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Kentucky. Region 5 will consist of Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

For more information or answers to questions about the reorganization, please call the Field Service Department at BVA National Headquarters at 202-371-8880.