Braille Flag Monument Unveiled in Georgia
A second national cemetery, this one in Canton, Georgia, now houses a Braille American Flag monument similar to the first one that has been on display inside the Arlington National Cemetery Visitors Center since 2009.
The unveiling of the second flag at the Georgia National Cemetery on October 10 was the result of fundraising efforts by members of the local Hightower Trail Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and Cherokee Rose Society, Children of the American Revolution (CAR). The combined efforts of the two groups brought in some $5,200 in proceeds.
The DAR is comprised of the descendants of the Patriots who won American independence. It was founded on October 11, 1890, as a service organization to promote historic preservation, education, and patriotism. The CAR, founded in 1895, is the oldest patriotic youth organization in the country. Membership in the CAR is also open to descendants of Patriots of the American Revolution.
Celebrating the 125th anniversary of DAR’s founding and honoring White Cane Safety Day five days later, the Hightower Trail Chapter decided on the project after learning of veterans and active servicemen and women who experience ocular trauma and premature blindness due to both combat injury as well as age-related conditions.
The flag is an indoor-outdoor tactile bronzed plaque mounted on a granite pedestal and located on the Memorial Walkway behind the Flag Assembly area. The cemetery in Canton is one of the newest of the national cemeteries, having been open only ten years.
In 2008, BVA actively supported H.R. 4169, a bill calling for a Braille flag at Arlington National Cemetery as a monument to America’s blinded veterans, blind service members, and other blind Americans. Representative Todd Tiahrt of Kansas introduced the bill, which was co-sponsored by 16 others. H.R. 4169 passed the House on February 14, 2008.
New VA ID Card Delayed Until 2017
The new veteran identification card, issued by VA and originally scheduled to roll out in late 2015, will likely not be available now until 2017.
Intended to serve as a substitute for the DD-214, a paper document given to all veterans upon discharge from the military, the wallet-sized proof of veteran status is now required by legislation signed by President Obama on July 20 and intended to be effective 60 days later. The ID card law passed both the House and Senate by wide margins.
Once VA missed the 60-day deadline, the House Committee on Veterans Affairs began pushing VA on implementation, after which VA told House lawmakers that the rule-making process, including drafting the procedures and securing public comment and approval from the Office of Management and Budget, would take a year or longer.
According to an article by Military.com reporter Bryant Jordan, VA appears to be punting the task to the next administration, holding that the process is “a much larger undertaking than it appears on the surface once you get into the actual logistics.”
While many criticized the legislation as unnecessary and burdensome to an already overtaxed VA system, veteran advocates for the card and other supporters argued that the ID would eliminate the need to produce the DD-214, which can be both a hassle and add wear and tear to the paper document. They also argue that the new law has commercial benefit to veterans since public and private institutions often require veterans to demonstrate proof of service in the military when it is impractical for them to have a paper document in their possession.