Around BVA...


Richmond Dines in Dark, Rocks with Jethro Tull


Special guests and interested members of the Richmond, Virginia, community gathered October 4 for a unique sensory deprivation experience that left them with a better awareness of vision-related injuries affecting veterans.

Sponsored by the Global Campaign against IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices), an organization founded by Army veteran of 31 years Colonel Bob Morris (Ret.), Dinner in the Dark temporarily deprived guests of all vision in a blacked out world as they simultaneously enjoyed a memorable culinary experience in one of Richmond’s finest dining establishments, Max’s Positive Vibe Café in the Stratford Hills Shopping Center.

Guests of Max’s Positive Vibe Café in Richmond prepare to dine without the means to visualize their food and utensils.
Guests of Max’s Positive Vibe Café in Richmond prepare to dine without the means to visualize their food and utensils.

Colonel Morris himself, chief organizer of Dinner in the Dark, donated proceeds of the sold-out event to BVA. Servers for the evening worked as volunteers without remuneration.

Dinner in the Dark blindfolded participants as they sat down for the first course, which consisted of Butternut Squash Soup with Duck Bacon. The main course was a choice of Roast Bison with Barley Risotto, Sweet Potatoes, and Brussels Sprouts, or Gulf Shrimp and Grits with Barbecue Shrimp, Pimento Cheese Grits, and Crispy Collards. Servers then brought out the finale, a White Chocolate and Pecan Bread Pudding with a Whiskey Hard Sauce and Praline Bacon.

Food and wine for the meal was specially selected for its flavor and aroma to enhance the unique sensory awareness experience.

Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran Brian Pearce of nearby Mechanicsville, Virginia, and a member of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Group, briefly shared his own story and experiences of living without sight. BVA National Sergeant-at-Arms Dan Wallace of Union, Missouri, described necessary adjustments he has made since being injured and losing much of his sight in 2003. Director of District 6 Dr. Tom Zampieri represented BVA at the event, publicly thanking Colonel Morris for his months of preparation in organizing it.

“It was a very successful and memorable night for us,” said Tom the following day. “Just a few days before this all happened there were still dozens of unsold tickets but we ended up turning away at least 15 possible participants at the door!”

Guests were challenged to navigate the meal, prepared by master chef Gary Cotton, the way veterans with vision loss similarly do so each day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They also experienced state of the art night vision equipment and learned how such technology can benefit those with vision impairments.

The following evening legendary progressive rock musician Ian Anderson, best known for decades for his work as Jethro Tull, presented “Ian Anderson and the Best of Jethro Tull Helping the Heroes” to a sold-out National Theater of some 1,100 enthusiastic and often raucous fans.

The performance was also organized and sponsored by the Global Campaign Against IEDs. It will benefit, in part, BVA member Steve Baskis, injured as a result of an IED and whose dream it is to continue in his rehabilitation by training to someday make the U.S. National Paralympic Biathlon Ski Team.

Biathlon joins cross country skiing and shooting. A biathlete typically skis a loop and then into a shooting range where five targets must be used in firing. A blind athlete uses a ski guide whose voice he/she must follow. The athlete must also use a special audio rifle, complete with computer module and headphones. He/she puts on the headphones, resets the computer module, raises the rifle, and acquires the target by sound.

Perhaps the climactic event of the evening came during a second intermission when Anderson and Morris presented Steve with the gift of an audio rifle to help him further train for the Paralympic Games in PyeongChang, Korea, in 2018.

Other highlights of the concert included VIP donor receptions both prior to and after the show, a rousing, patriotic opening performance by the Virginia Military Institute Commander’s Band, and a meeting of select veterans with Anderson before the show.

Also included in the event was an art exhibit showcasing the paintings of Brian Rock as part of therapy to recover from the visible and invisible wounds of war experienced as both a child in Ireland and as an adult in the United States military after becoming a U.S. citizen. Rock left the Army as an E6 Staff Sergeant.

More than 85 percent of all service member injuries and deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan have resulted from IEDs. No other single weapon in U.S. military history has been the cause of more injuries and deaths. IEDs are the cause of the four major injuries to veterans and active-duty military. These injuries are vision loss, hearing loss, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Traumatic Brain Injury (now also linked to vision loss and blindness).

Video links to noteworthy portions of the show and a promotional segment in early October on Virginia This Morning, WTVR-Channel 6 in Richmond, are as follows:

♣ Ian Anderson and VMI Band at show—
♣ Audio Rifle Presentation at show—
♣ Virginia This Morning—

Members Promote White Canes and BVA


Blinded veterans from regional groups across the country recently joined forces with VA support groups and sister organizations of and for the blind in promoting public awareness of the issues facing the blind and visually impaired.

White Cane Safety Day, always October 15 officially but commemorated throughout the month of October, includes demonstrations and discussions about the significance of the white cane itself, how to assist the legally blind in public places, and how motorists can best demonstrate courtesy to those with vision loss who might be navigating sidewalks or trying to cross the street within crosswalks.

At VA Central Office White Cane Awareness event, Gale Watson completes blindfolded white cane walk with direction from Baltimore VA Medical Center Blind Rehabilitation Outpatient Specialist Bill Lange.
At VA Central Office White Cane Awareness event, Gale Watson completes blindfolded white cane walk with direction from Baltimore VA Medical Center Blind Rehabilitation Outpatient Specialist Bill Lange.

By official proclamation of the President of the United States, White Cane Safety Day has also become known as Blind Americans Equality Day under President Barack Obama.

“NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 15, 2014, as Blind Americans Equality Day,” stated this year’s proclamation. “I call upon public officials, business and community leaders, educators, librarians, and Americans across the country to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs.”

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the first White Cane Safety Day proclamation in 1964, asking all citizens to recognize the white cane as a symbol of a blind person’s ability to come and go on his or her own.

The original proclamation further declared: “The white cane’s use has promoted courtesy and special consideration for the blind on our streets and highways. To make our people more aware of the meaning of the white cane, and of the need for motorists to exercise special care for the blind persons who carry it, the Congress, by joint resolution approved October 6, 1964, has authorized the President to proclaim October 15 of each year as White Cane Safety Day.”

BVA National Headquarters sent informational and promotional materials to several of its own regional groups, chapters, and individual members in preparation for specific events on October 15 and beyond, most of which occur at VA Medical Centers and Outpatient Clinics with the support of Visual Impairment Service Team Coordinators and other Blind Rehabilitation Service staff. In other cases, materials are sent directly to VA staff members or other organizations who offer to promote BVA as part of their own White Cane Safety Day activities.

BVA member Terry Kebbel of the Rio Grande Regional Group spent the better part of five months with his wife Mary Ellen in preparation of their own participation in a White Cane Day October 15 event at Doña Ana Community College in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The college’s Office of Services for Students with Disabilities offered to host the activities organized by the Kebbels, which included information tables with diabetes screening, hearing screening, voting machine demonstrations, and a veterans’ mobile center; a welcome by Las Cruces City Mayor Ken Miyagishima; and recreational activities such as a White Cane walking course, “Dining in the Dark,” blind golf putting, blind goal ball, and interaction with service animals and guide dogs.

On October 13, KTSM News Channel 9 in El Paso, Texas, previewed the event with a four-minute, in-studio news segment featuring Terry and Mary Ellen. Joining them on the segment was BVA member Rick Olson with guide dog Pretzel, both of whom had traveled to the area from Chicago to support Terry and Mary Ellen. Eddie Bender represented Doña Ana on the show. The segment can be viewed at

On November 18, Al Avina, Ed Eckroth, and Glenn Minney spoke at the second annual White Cane Recognition Day at VA Central Office. The activities also included introductory remarks by Deputy Chief Consultant of VA Rehabilitation Services David Chandler, who presented several anecdotes about veterans who had lost their sight and gone on to lead highly successful lives. BRS National Program Director Gale Watson also spoke at the event.

Interactive stations that included a blindfolded white cane walk, educational materials, and the latest in technology also highlighted the occasion. A cake containing the graphic of an individual using a white cane was also unveiled and served to the attendees.

Scholarships Continue for 2015-16 Academic Year


BVA will award seven total scholarships for the 2015-16 school year, six under the Kathern F. Gruber classification and one through the Thomas H. Miller program.

The Gruber scholarships are valued at $2,000 each and the Miller scholarship is for $1,000.

The Miller program, now in its third year, requires the same application process and qualifications as the Gruber awards except for an added emphasis on music and fine arts. The scholarship committee will choose seven recipients and three alternates.

Dependent children, grandchildren, and spouses of both blinded veterans and active duty blinded service members of the U.S. Armed Forces are eligible for the scholarships. The veteran must be legally blind and the blindness may be either service connected or nonservice connected. The veteran need not be a member of the Blinded Veterans Association.

To be eligible for the scholarship, an applicant must have been accepted for admission, or already be enrolled, as a full-time student in an accredited institution of higher education or business, secretarial, or vocational training school.

BVA began its first scholarship program more than 30 years ago. The awards are intended to defray a student's educational expenses, including tuition, books, and other academic fees. Scholarship payments will be made by BVA directly to the educational institution.

The scholarships will be awarded on a "most-highly-qualified" basis utilizing the following criteria: answers to questions on the application form; transcripts of high school and/or college records; three letters of reference; and a 300-word essay relating to the applicant's career goals and aspirations as well as past awards and achievements.

Scholarships are awarded for one year only. Applicants are advised that the BVA National Board of Directors has determined that Gruber and Miller scholarship recipients are limited to a total of four scholarships during their college careers.

Applications for the scholarships may be obtained from the Blinded Veterans Association, 477 H Street NW, Washington, DC 20001, at (look on Programs page in section entitled “Kathern F. Gruber Scholarships and Thomas H. Miller Awards”).

Completed applications and supporting materials must be returned to BVA no later than Friday, April 17, 2015. Due to time constraints related to processing the applications for the scholarship committee's review, applications arriving subsequent to the aforementioned deadline will not be accepted.

Holiday Horn

Convention Dates, Hotel Announced


BVA will host its milestone 70th National Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, “Gateway to the South,” August 17-21, 2015 at the Marriott Louisville Downtown Hotel. The gathering will be the first in the Eastern Time zone since the 65th National Convention in the Nation’s Capital in 2010.

According to Christina Hitchcock, Convention Manager, attendees can expect to participate in the customary meetings and activities that will directly impact the future of the Association. As in recent previous years, the convention will also feature educational workshops, opportunities to network with other veterans, technology demonstrations, and a full Exhibit Hall.

The annual bylaws and resolutions meeting and subsequent approvals by the membership in the Closing Business Meeting will also occur. VA Secretary Robert McDonald will be invited to address the convention body as a keynote speaker. Louisville is also known for Kentucky Fried Chicken and the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory in the downtown area. Other historical properties and items of interest in the area include the Belle of Louisville, the oldest Mississippi-style steamboat in operation in the United States. It is also the home of the American Printing House for the Blind.

Ohio, Cal Vets Attend DC Memorial Dedication


Two BVA members and the BVAA Auxiliary Reporter attended the long-awaited dedication of the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial held on the sun-drenched morning of October 5 in the shadows of the U.S. Capitol Building. All attended in official capacities for the Disabled American Veterans (DAV).

Dave May, Secretary-Treasurer of the Ohio Regional Group and a past Director of District 3, and James Hogan, Vice President of the Southern California Regional Group, with wife Pam, were among the first visitors to a memorial in Washington dedicated to veterans who come home with life-changing injuries.

Ohio Regional Group Secretary-Treasurer Dave May at historic memorial dedication.
Ohio Regional Group Secretary-Treasurer Dave May at historic memorial dedication.

As many as 4 million U.S. veterans are believed living today with the scars of war.

“This is a long overdue symbol of the sacrifices of so many of our veterans,” said Dave. “With the weather so ideal, the dedication of this great memorial couldn’t have happened on a better day.”

Dave is a Past Commander of DAV’s Department of Ohio.

The memorial, first proposed and announced in 1998, was 16 years in the making. The idea began with Florida philanthropist Lois Pope, former VA Secretary Jesse Brown, and then Disabled American Veterans National Adjutant Arthur Wilson. The authorizing legislation was signed by President Bill Clinton but the memorial was funded almost entirely with privately raised funds. Organizers raised approximately $80 million dollars from more than a million donors.

Glass walls carry inscriptions and photographs telling veterans’ stories from different eras. Bronze sculptures represent their service. A ceremonial flame burns on the water’s surface in a star-shaped fountain representing the five branches of military service, surrounded by a grove of trees. The latter ideas were inspired by the camaraderie of soldiers’ campfires and the flame as a symbol of renewal.

Black stone elements make up a fountain and reflecting pool at the front of the memorial. Hand-carved inscriptions from George Washington and Dwight Eisenhower are etched in the site’s marble Wall of Gratitude.

According to Project Executive Barry Owenby, also a veteran, those who planned the location of the memorial no more than three blocks from the Capitol—and even closer to the three House Office Buildings—wanted to ensure that lawmakers and their staffs see the memorial every day and “realize there is a human cost when you send troops into harm’s way.”

BVA Welcomes New Membership Coordinator


Cecilia Montenegro has joined BVA’s National Headquarters staff as the organization’s Membership Coordinator after more than eight years as the Administrative Assistant to the National Service Officer in the Field Service Department’s Region 2.

Cecilia Montenegro looks over membership data in her new role at BVA National Headquarters. Her appointment as Membership Coordinator was effective November 10.
Cecilia Montenegro looks over membership data in her new role at BVA National Headquarters. Her appointment as Membership Coordinator was effective November 10.

“Cecilia's years of experience in the field service area will make her a valuable resource for new members who need guidance on how the program and its National Service Officers can assist them,” said Ed Eckroth, Field Service Program Director.

Cecilia will work under the direction of the Field Service Department.

Born and raised until age 10 in El Salvador, Cecilia’s parents uprooted the family and immigrated to the United States in December 1994. She graduated from High Point High School in Beltsville, Maryland, in 2002. Desiring to more fully express her artistic and creative side, Cecilia attended the American Beauty Academy in Wheaton, Maryland, after high school and became a licensed cosmetologist.

Cecilia originally began at BVA as a volunteer, assisting Claudia Belk with her duties as a National Service Officer in a VA Regional Office in Washington, DC. Shortly thereafter in 2006, she was hired as Claudia’s assistant, where she continued even after Claudia’s recent relocation to San Diego. Cecilia first became interested in BVA after a few opportunities to interact with blinded veterans, inspiring her to “give back to those who protect us.”

Cecilia has completed Veteran Service Officer Accreditation and “Training Responsibility Involvement and Preparation of Claims” (TRIP).

“Throughout these past few years I have had great opportunities to help many blinded veterans with VA benefit claims, resulting in a better way of life for them as they secured the funds that they rightfully earned and as they learned about the adaptive equipment that could aid them,” she said.

Cecilia has two sons, 11-year-old Christopher and 6-year-old Diego. They presently reside in Silver Spring, Maryland.

National Service Officer Announced


Scott Scieszinski has been appointed the new National Service Officer for the Blinded Veterans Association’s Region 7 Field Service Office based in San Diego, California. Scott officially assumed his duties on November 24.

Scott served in the Navy as an electronics technician from 1990 until 2009. In August 2009 Scott restarted his education with assistance from the Post 9-11 GI Bill. He graduated from the University of Phoenix in September 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology.

Upon leaving the Navy and enrolling in higher education, Scott worked independently as a computer technician for more than two years before starting his career with the Air Force as a telecommunications specialist in April 2011.

It was during his tenure with the Air Force that Scott first began his journey into the world of blindness. He was diagnosed with Retinal Cone Dystrophy in the summer of 2011 and became legally blind by April 2013. His vision continued to deteriorate, making it impossible for him to continue his career in electronics. He left his full-time job with the Air Force this past summer.

Scott graduated from the Charles Robert Soltes, Jr. (Long Beach) Blind Rehabilitation Center in December 2013. He credits BVA with guiding him in the securing of VA disability compensation and in becoming service connected for blindness.

Scott has a reputation for thoroughness, attention to detail, and good analytical skills. He enjoys traveling.

“I look forward in my new opportunity to meeting, learning from, and laughing with my fellow blinded veterans,” he said.

Scott and Sheryl, his wife of 33 years, live in the wine country of the Temecula Valley with their two dachshunds (German for badger dogs). He is a member of the Southern California Regional Group.

Wade and Brenda Davis To Assume New Roles in DC


Wade Davis has been selected as the new National Field Service Officer for Region 2 and will add the additional title of National Field Service Training Coordinator to his new roles. He and his assistant, Brenda Davis, will relocate to the National Capital Area.

Wade will devote 40 percent of his time to claims work and 60 percent to the Training Program. He will divide his time between BVA National Headquarters and an already established BVA office in Washington, DC within a VA Regional Office facility.

Wade will continue to help blinded veterans in the VA claims process but now for veterans located in Region 2, which comprises Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, U.S. Virgin Islands, Virginia, and West Virginia. He will promote BVA programs, most notably its Volunteer Service Program, and will be directly involved in training BVA volunteers and Service Officers nationwide. He will also assist, on a more limited basis, in the development and strengthening of the Association’s regional groups in the mid-Atlantic area and will work cooperatively with VA Visual Impairment Service Team Coordinators and Blind Rehabilitation Center personnel.

A native of southern Illinois, Wade enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1968. He served in the Army Security Agency and was honorably discharged at the rank of E-5 after serving 3½ years. After his Army service he attended Texas Bible College as a student of theology. He met his wife, Brenda, at the college and decided to make Texas his home. He also volunteered as a Sunday School teacher while at the college, an opportunity he says was the first in his lifelong commitment to, through voluntary service, help others improve their lives.

Wade’s strongest commitment is to help blind and visually impaired veterans learn of and receive the benefits that they have earned, including rehabilitation services. He is determined to help BVA expand and become a well-known organization.

Wade was active in volunteering himself in the National Field Service Region 5 office as an accredited Volunteer National Service Officer. He was then hired there as National Field Service Officer.

Brenda began at BVA as a volunteer, assisting Wade with his duties before being hired as National Service Officer Administrative Assistant for Region 5. She is now accredited with VA in the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims for veterans' benefits, having completed the National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) training course and the “Training Responsibility Involvement and Preparation of Claims” course. Brenda previously worked in Information Technology as a Senior Purchasing Administrator, purchasing hardware and software for both corporate staff and network infrastructure.

Wade and Brenda have two children and five grandchildren.

Barbara Stocking Support Helped Blinded Vets, Families


Barbara Brau Cotton Stocking, an instrumental figure in BVA’s history in a multitude of roles as she served America’s blinded veterans, passed away November 18, 2014.

BVA National Headquarters and the Association’s members and friends nationwide extend their condolences to Dr. George Stocking and the entire Stocking family.

Barbara was a charter member and past national president of the Blinded Veterans Auxiliary (BVAA) and the Florida Regional Group Auxiliary. She initiated and served as chairperson for many years of the program overseeing BVAA scholarships for spouses and children of blinded veterans. She also helped start a similar scholarship program in Florida.

Barbara was born in Freeport, Illinois, and moved to South Miami at age 15. She was gifted in the field of public relations as both a professional as well as a volunteer. She had a particular interest in charitable organizations, working as Public Relations Director for the Miami Heart Association, Dade-Monroe Lung Association, and the Miami Multiple Sclerosis Society. She was an officer and board member in Women in Communications, Pilot Club International, the Dade Chapter of the Public Relations Association, Miami Advertising Club, and was a member of the Coco Plum Women’s Club for more than 60 years.

Through Barbara’s public relations experience, she became active in the Dade Employ the Handicapped Committee (DEHC) and Dade Chapter of the Florida Rehabilitation Association (FRA).

While working on DEHC and FRA activities, Barbara met blinded veteran Dr. George Stocking, a Counseling Psychologist at the Miami VA Medical Center who was also serving on the Blinded Veterans Association’s National Board of Directors. They were married and together they remained active in BVA both nationally and locally. Barbara’s experience in public relations further assisted George in working with members of Congress and the Department of Veterans Affairs, leading to improved services, benefits, and quality of life for veterans with vision loss.

Barbara was an avid photographer and especially loved traveling with her husband.

She is survived by George, son John Cotton, daughter Cathie Cotton-DeBoer; stepdaughters Debra Stocking, Diane Neiss, and Donna Cohrs; six grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.

In lieu of flowers, the Stocking family has specifically requested that contributions be made to the BVA Florida Regional Group Scholarship Program, 3801 Coco Grove Avenue, Miami, FL 33133.

Connecticut Member Honored, Recounts Battle of Iwo Jima


BVA National Headquarters recently learned that the organization has a World War II Navy veteran within its ranks who witnessed the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Herb Philbrick, 97 years old and a BVA life member from the Connecticut Regional Group, was honored at Veterans Day outdoor ceremonies each of the past two years at the Wethersfield Town Hall near Rocky Hill where he resides.

“I saw the report on TV on Veterans Day this year and read it in the newspapers the following day,” reported Dave VanLoan, Director of District 1 and a resident of Moosup some 60 miles from Rocky Hill. “I recognized him as a member of our regional group and have spoken with him in the past.”

The news reports Dave viewed and read described Herb as a Chief Machinist Mate on a U.S. battlefield repair vessel in the South Pacific. He served from 1940 until the end of World War II in 1945.

Among Herb’s many memories, he clearly remembers watching the Battle of Iwo Jima from his ship, the USS Oceanus, which was in service from 1942 to 1947. He actually witnessed the famous raising of the American flag two different times on Mount Suribachi after seeing hundreds of young Marines wounded and killed in the battle.

At TEE, Joseph Skebo Scores Hole-in-One


Korean War veteran and BVA Ohio Regional Group member Joe Skebo performed a most unlikely feat at a golf event featuring primarily legally blind veteran participants.

On September 10, at the 70-yard, par-three eighth hole at the Elks Country Club Golf Course during a practice round of the National Veterans TEE (Training, Exposure, Experience) Tournament hosted by the Iowa City VA Medical Center, Joe swung his club and promptly lifted the ball right onto the green and then into the cup.

“I couldn’t see the flag or the green but only the ball to hit it,” he later told William K. Alcorn, a reporter from The Vindicator Newspaper in Youngstown, Ohio who published an account of the accomplishment a few weeks later. His only assistance was a “golf buddy,” in this case his son Richard who told him where to aim and where the ball was headed.

Joe is a resident of Boardman, Ohio, a community just south of Youngstown. Although he has now attended the TEE Tournament nine times and played golf most of his adult life (he has golfed at the famous Firestone Country Club in Akron and had a 12 handicap as a sighted person), he scored only a hole-in-one only after becoming legally blind due to macular degeneration.

“At first, I thought people were kidding me,” he recounted to Alcorn about the hole-in-one. “I was excited. I called it luck. Others called it a miracle. It would have been great if I could have seen it.”

The National Veterans Tee Tournament was conceived, established, and organized locally in 1994 specifically for blinded veterans through the creative, ambitious efforts of VIST Coordinators Valerie Duffy (formerly in Iowa City and now in Boise, Idaho), Mike Owen, and a pair of visually impaired veterans who had attended VA’s Winter Sports Clinic the previous year. Because of the four-day event’s success in attracting some 250 volunteers from the Iowa City community and running annually for 14 years without a hitch, it became a national VA event in 2008.

The National Veterans TEE Tournament is now open to other eligible disabled veterans as an opportunity for recreational rehabilitation, specifically to develop new skills and strengthen self-esteem. The focus is golf but bowling, kayaking, horseback riding, and other adaptive sports workshops are available.

Joe Skebo joined the Naval Reserve in 1949 and was called to active duty during the Korean War, serving aboard the USS Oriskany, an Essex-class aircraft carrier, from 1951 to 1953. In addition to his BVA membership and involvement in a VA support group in Columbus, he is also a member of the American Legion.

Hogan Celebrated as HearStrong Champion


On November 8, the HearStrong Foundation celebrated James Hogan during a special ceremony at the 2014 Academy of Doctors of Audiology Convention in Las Vegas.

“Today, roughly 60 percent of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have some degree of hearing loss,” said Ed Keller, founder of the HearStrong Foundation. “By recognizing Jim for his accomplishments, we hope to inspire other veterans to seek the hearing solutions they need to help them reconnect to the people and things that matter most.”

James was nominated by Audiology Associates of Santa Clarita, California, where he resides. He was diagnosed with hearing loss as a young boy and quickly began utilizing hearing devices. Because of his dream to serve in the U.S. Military, James enlisted in the Navy after graduating from high school. He served in combat for 4½ years and then re-entered civilian life. After ten additional years he was diagnosed with Ushers II, a degenerative disease that causes vision and hearing loss. Even after that, James and his wife, Pam, continued to maintain their active lifestyle.

“My wife and I camp, bike, hike, enter parades, and attend concerts, said James. “My hearing devices and guide dog Atticus enable me to be more independent.”

Bulletin Format Variety Offers Multiple Options


Blinded veterans now have six different means available to them to access each issue of the quarterly BVA Bulletin.

The traditional large print paper version continues to be distributed to all blinded veterans desiring to receive it in this format. It can also be read online via the BVA website.

Professional narrator Bruce Moyer of Bethesda, Maryland-based also reads a frequently condensed audio version of the Bulletin, which is duplicated onto compact disks for members desiring to receive it via U.S. Postal Free Matter for the Blind. An mp3 version of the long version of the same recording can also be accessed at by clicking on the link in the upper right hand corner of the page.

The Bulletin can also be received by email in one of two formats: a PDF version that has an appearance identical to the print version and is essentially a photographed copy, complete with all of the same photographs; or a Microsoft Word 2010 document that most resembles the narrated audio version, complete with descriptions of the photos and graphics and inclusion of their respective captions.

For more information about the different versions of the Bulletin, or to request it in a certain format not already being received, please contact Stuart Nelson at 202-371-8880 or at BVA members can also request to be taken out of Bulletin distributions that they currently receive.

Holiday Poinsettia