Letters to the Editor
BVA Member Offers Advice and Optimism
I greet you, my BVA comrades, with words of encouragement. Keep marching forward!
The Blind Rehabilitation Center in West Haven, Connecticut, was truly a wonderful experience for me. I was enrolled in the Computer Access Technology program, which provided me with a greater awareness of the Internet and of the need to develop vital technical skills.
My training was a success. Upon my graduation, the knowledge I had received and my improved self-confidence truly gave me greater independence. Fellow BVA members: I am not left behind simply because I am blind. The BRC changed my life!
New York, New York
Failure to Launch: Breakdown in Communication
Communication requires at least two individuals sending and receiving information. Whether this occurs through an in-person discussion, regional group or district teleconference, email discussions, or social media, the exchange offers a chance for all parties to benefit. As blinded veterans, our ability to communicate faces barriers related to reading many nonverbal cues, simply skimming over the mail, or traveling to a meeting location. However, we within BVA seemingly face another barrier to exchanging information: the breakdown in lines of communications from the highest level of our Board of Directors and national staff to our average or potential members.
When BVA’s founding members gathered together 71 years ago, their grassroots efforts managed to create many of the very VA entitlements and benefits from which we survive, as well as a system of blind rehabilitation thriving today. They accomplished this using only word of mouth and letters. Can you imagine what else they could have accomplished with today’s communication technologies?
In the most recent BVA Bulletin, our Executive Director Al Avina stated: “Sadly, many have either forgotten our purpose or never learned our history. Worse yet, those who can clearly communicate fall short on delivering the most important part of one’s rehabilitation: “peer mentoring.” If you feel enraged by these words and desire to learn what you can do for BVA, then let’s stand together to devise a future for BVA. If you feel threatened by these words, you could be a contributor to the ugly truth.
Being a blinded veteran and assisting my peers means being a friend to someone transitioning into his or her new life. It means mentoring my fellow veterans with visual impairments to understand how to live independently. It means creating and participating in teleconferences, in activities, and in committees with my peers. It means sharing information about services, devices, and programs that may not directly benefit me but may aid another. It means being willing to talk to complete strangers about the capabilities and achievements of blinded veterans. Ultimately, it means every level of BVA must interact with all of the others.
Operation Peer Support Committee
Ranger Trainees Inspire
Looking through the May-June Bulletin this morning, and specifically at the picture of the gathered Ranger cadets aboard the ATV, certainly gave me a good feeling. I don't know how else to say it other than “it just made me feel good.”
The photo to which I refer was captioned: "Ranger trainers and their blinded veteran trainees shared four days of camaraderie, adversity, and accomplishment."
The camaraderie came through and today I need this good feeling in my system. The events of this week across our nation from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to St. Paul, Minnesota, and then yesterday to Dallas, Texas, had me feeling helpless and blue. Then I saw this photo. We Americans can and will overcome adversity!
My initial rehab took place at the Central Blind Rehabilitation Center at Hines. I ought to say that the three months I spent there gave me this same feeling also. The Bulletin photo was an excellent reinforcement of that feeling for me. Just as I overcame the adversity I faced as a newly blinded person, I now have positive and optimistic thoughts from the Ranger Trainees on being Black and Blue.
Thank you, BVA, for being there for us.
James A. Tucker
Update from Bulletin Editor
This issue of our BVA Bulletin is the sixth since we transitioned back to a bi-monthly publication after 12 years as a quarterly publication. The change has been well-received and relatively smooth. We hope you have enjoyed the additional issues.
There was some expectation that our issues would be substantially shorter in length. This hasn’t happened to a great extent. Shortages of material and potentially empty space are rarely a problem. Even so, we are always looking for news and human interest stories from our regional groups and individual members. Please send such ideas and accompanying photos my way whenever possible.
On still one additional note, we have been offering our Bulletin via email for several years now. While our subscriber list has grown some, there are still relatively few of our members who have requested the issues by email. We offer both a narrated Word document version with photo descriptions and a PDF file that is sent to your inbox exactly as it appears in the U.S. Postal mail. Please give me a call at 202-371-8880, Ext. 316, or send an email to email@example.com if you wish to begin receiving the Bulletin by email or the narrated version on a Compact Disk.
BVA National Headquarters