Letters to the Editor


Information Flow Is Key to BVA Future


The subject of this letter is the “lifeblood” of BVA, which is the flow of information. The passing of information, both up as well as down within the chain of command of the organization, is what BVA is all about.

If the conversation does not occur both ways, someone is not doing his/her job. BVA passes down events happening in Washington among the upper levels and within BVA. The organization depends on the member to report the experiences and results of personal contact with VA at the “rubber-meets-the-road” level, which in our case is at the health care delivery point of contact. If the facts, good as well as bad, do not go both up and down, BVA then fails to do its work.

BVA members are thought to be interested enough in how they are cared for to tell it like it is. For example, how do they relate what happened at their last appointment? I believe that email is the fastest and easiest. But, if one wishes to avoid the Internet, email, Facebook, Twitter, smartphones, etc., an old-fashioned handwritten letter will do.

Send the information to your regional group secretary or the BVA Administrative Director. One of them will forward it to those who are keeping score. To exercise your integrity in reporting your experience with VA on a consistent basis will probably require a change in your usual habits.

Adapting brings challenge. It is a good cause; think beyond yourself, consider your fellow vets.

Unless you are really convinced you are too old, and that is a mindset more than anything else, you should take advantage of VA’s offer to give you a computer and teach you how to do email. You will find it a great way to communicate with friends and family. The stagecoach and the crank telephone are gone. It is time for us to step into the digital world. We must if we expect to influence the younger generation and depend on them to answer our future telephone calls. 
BVA is the only Veterans Service Organization out of many that makes blinded and visually impaired veterans its first priority. We must improve how we communicate with our “dance partners,” in this case VA and the U.S. Congress. If not, neither of them will have reason to believe in us or take seriously our mission and goals.

What can we do? Continuing to stumble around doing nothing will not fix our problem. First, we must wake up and realize that our time is passing. Second, we need to look around and see the tools that are available. The Internet is crucial to modern communication. Third, we must get ourselves organized. Find a pencil and paper or computer and your regional group secretary’s address. Then, when you contact VA, let them hear what happened or didn’t happen.

Don’t wait for the ‘big shots’ at the regional group and BVA National Headquarters to figure it out. You know more about what is really happening with VA than they do. You are an important part of BVA—are you doing your part?

The problem is not technology itself but the person sitting in your chair. When was the last time you looked at your website? Do you read the BVA Bulletin? Have you ever contributed your two-bit’s worth to either one? Are we too lacking in understanding of the big picture to realize that the other members in this organization have made a difference in our own lives?

Another way to say it is that we must reinvent ourselves into the 21st century. We are blinded veterans capable of helping other blinded veterans with the flow of information. Let us do it! 

Elbert L. Brown
Sandia, Texas

Vietnam Veterans Day Significant to BVA

Kudos to BVA National Headquarters on the new organizational logo. It was also great to hear that March 28 is now Blind Veterans Day. Despite these end-of-March highlights, we neglected to recognize March 30 as Vietnam Veterans Day!

I do some work for my local American Legion post. I am also appointed to a few local boards that support either veterans or the blind. One nagging question often asked of me in these capacities goes something like this: “What does it take to get the younger (Vietnam and after) veterans involved?”

My general response is simple: “It is good that so many organizations take the time, usually a lot of time, to recognize the World War II generation. However, it is a sad failure when we continue to minimize the Vietnam veterans.”

Our Vietnam veterans might soon be the only ones to whom the torch can be passed. Organizations such as BVA need Vietnam vets if they are to thrive. Already a large number of our BVA national and regional group leaders are Vietnam veterans. Sometimes overlooked also is the fact that this generation now controls the majority of the nation’s wealth and will continue to do so for many years. This is the prime group that will give to nonprofits.

I’m not in any way criticizing BVA or anyone associated with the organization. You are all my most favorite people in the world. I just thought I would make a point that I believe has been ignored for too long. As a combat wounded Marine who served in Vietnam, I may well be more sensitive than most about such issues. Still, it’s my two-cents worth that I’d like share.

Looking forward to seeing everyone again at the national convention!

Waya Rae Hail
Wenatchee, Washington