From the Field Staff
By Wade Davis
A couple of years ago I received a call from Teresa Maryska of the Texas Veterans Commission. Her title is Local Veterans Employment Representative. She told me that she was working with a legally blind veteran who was not service connected and wanted to know what kind of help was available for him.
I told Teresa that there was plenty of available help for this veteran. Specifically, I let her know that, with assistance from a VIST Coordinator, this veteran could get himself entered into the VA system and that afterward a whole new world could open up for him, including training at a Blind Rehabilitation Center.
As part of that first conversation, or perhaps a bit later, I also mentioned to Teresa that the VIST Coordinator could get the veteran classified as catastrophically disabled (Category 4) so that his medical visits, prescriptions, and BRC training would not incur any cost.
To make short a longer, more detailed story, Teresa was able to witness and, to some extent, experience the process by which a veteran with vision loss and his family can obtain the assistance that can eventually result in a new perspective on life. She was able to view from the outside BVA’s role in the process.
Much to our surprise, Teresa’s positive experience in getting the veteran the help he needed motivated her to nominate the Blinded Veterans Association for the Texas Veterans Commission’s annual Patriotism Award for outstanding service to veterans. The nominations were due on August 14. Since nominees had to be from the State of Texas, our Field Service Office in Houston constituted the nominee.
We were further surprised when Teresa informed us only a couple of weeks later that we had been chosen as the recipient of the Patriotism Award. I had the good fortune of representing BVA in accepting this award at the Texas Veterans Commission’s award ceremony on the morning of September 11.
At right in photo, Wade Davis, National Service Officer for BVA’s Region 5, receives Patriotism Award from Texas Veterans Commission Executive Director Thomas Palladino. Photo courtesy of Texas Veterans Commission.
The plaque we received reads as follows:
“In recognition of your dedication to promote the welfare of blinded veterans by facilitating peer support, specialized resources, and support and encouragement so they may take their rightful place in the community. Your diligent efforts and patriotism inspire all who observe you and reflect the great credit upon your organization, and is in keeping with the highest tradition of supporting those who have defended our country’s freedom.”
It was an honor for me to accept this recognition of our office and all that BVA can do for blinded veterans even when, at first, the veterans and those assisting them might not be aware of all of the possibilities that are out there for them.
When we reach out to the veteran community and the public with accurate information, and then work with genuine care and concern to assure that the services provided to individual veterans are effective and efficient, our efforts can truly have some marvelous paybacks.