Hines Offers First-Ever Training Program

Courtesy of Central Blind Rehabilitation Center

The week of June 17-22, 2013 was a very energetic and successful one at the Central Blind Rehabilitation Center (CBRC) at the Hines VA Hospital. The CBRC was able to offer a fantastic training opportunity for nine OIF and OEF veterans who participated in a week-long specialized program. The emphasis was on mobile and computer technologies and the formation of collaborative relationships.

Seated in front row, left to right: Steve Baskis, Sean Johnson, Denise Van Koevering, Jason Pepper, Joe Piersante. Back row: Raymond Fleig, Matt Millar, Roberto Cazares, Bill Murphy, A.J.Tong.
Seated in front row, left to right: Steve Baskis, Sean Johnson, Denise Van Koevering, Jason Pepper, Joe Piersante. Back row: Raymond Fleig, Matt Millar, Roberto Cazares, Bill Murphy, A.J.Tong.

Through the years, OIF and OEF service members and veterans who previously attended the BRC have had questions regarding technology and equipment leading to an independent and productive life. We subsequently proposed a specialized program for them. The initiative would allow these individuals to meet and gain support from one another while receiving training on new technologies.

The week began with introductions and group discussions relating to the most current technologies and best practices for maximizing their utilization. In addition, the trainees also received individualized instruction from our professional clinicians in various skill areas, including new computer systems, access technology software, low vision devices, GPS systems, and Internet Operating System devices like the iPhone and iPad.

While the special program in and of itself was demanding work, we also scheduled team building exercises. The group kayaked six miles on the Chicago River and then watched fireworks from their kayaks. Participants also went rock climbing, bowling, and enjoyed a local barbecue cookout. Together as staff and trainees, we enjoyed participating in these events.

Of greatest value perhaps were the opportunities for the development of knowledge, support, and improved skill sets. Our hope is that the participants in the program left the CBRC with an increased ability and motivation to continue collaborating and sharing information with each other. 

OIF-OEF week was an awesome one with numerous hours of education, training, recreational activities, and fun! Our support for this venture should allow us to continue providing special training opportunities for blinded and visually impaired veterans.