From the Field Staff

By Ed Eckroth

Many of our BVA members, especially those who are unable to regularly attend national conventions, may be unaware of the David L. Schnair Award.

Recognizing and honoring the outstanding contributions of one volunteer each year, the award established in 1994 fittingly bears the name of David Schnair. He was among the first BVA members and a member of the BVA Board of Directors (National Vice President and Director of District 1) for more than four decades.

David Schnair was known most especially for his service as an outstanding BVA volunteer. His tenure as a VA accredited Volunteer National Service Officer spanned 40 years. He managed the New York Regional Group volunteer efforts at the Manhattan VA Regional Office, where he constantly sought to inform blinded veterans of their VA benefits. He was also known for his involvement in the community and his ability to help strengthen BVA regional groups.

As a result of David’s leadership, the Field Service Program was successful in reaching out to blinded veterans during that time. His efforts were also recognized by VA, other organizations serving the blind, and the State of New York. He was a true role model.

The guidelines for the David L. Schnair Award are as follows:
  • The award may be given to a BVA volunteer office itself or to a member or Auxiliary member working in a volunteer office who has provided at least one year of consistent and outstanding service as a BVA volunteer.
  • The volunteer candidate for the award should have a solid understanding of the VA system and should be an asset to the volunteer office in question and blinded veterans generally.
  • The volunteer should be involved in community activities, to include representing BVA as a spokesperson.
  • The volunteer office or individual working therein should have a productive affiliation with the regional group and VA Voluntary Services.
  • Candidates should be consistent in submitting monthly reports.
Chiefs of Voluntary Services, District Directors, regional group presidents, National Service Officers, and VIST Coordinators are encouraged to submit nominations by composing letters of recommendation specifically outlining the efforts taken and/or services provided to blinded veterans.

Left to right, Field Service Staff Wanda Grover, Brenda Davis, Claudia Belk, Scott Scieszinski, Eileen Vasquez, Judith Bouton, and Wade Davis at 2015 midwinter meeting February 27.
Left to right, Field Service Staff Wanda Grover, Brenda Davis, Claudia Belk, Scott Scieszinski, Eileen Vasquez, Judith Bouton, and Wade Davis at 2015 midwinter meeting February 27.

The letters should be addressed to the National Field Service Director, Blinded Veterans Association National Headquarters, 125 N. West Street, 3rd Floor, Alexandria, VA 22314.

Nominations must be received by April 24, 2015 to be considered. An initial review and consideration will occur with the appropriate regional group president and National Service Officer before submission to a rotating panel for final selection. The panel making a final determination will consist of a National Service Officer, a District Director, and the National Vice President.

The recipient of the award will receive a complimentary registration to the upcoming BVA 70th National Convention and officially receive the honor at the Awards Banquet on the evening of August 21, 2015 in Louisville. A small stipend courtesy of the New York Regional Group is also included. 

If the recipient is not able to attend the convention, the District Director of the recipient’s region will receive the award and present it later at a regional group meeting, volunteer service meeting, or other medical center activity.

Previous recipients of the award moving backward from 2014 to 2001 are Charles Davis, Carl Hytinen, Enrique Sanchez, Ronald Morales, Robert Keller, Sr., Ron Lester, Roy Young, Jack Shapiro, Frank Armstrong, David May, Paul Kaminsky, Dora Gabe, Rochelle Gurugle, and Corwin Matthews.