by Dale Stamper
From the great Northwest I send warm greetings to blinded veterans, their families, and our Bulletin readers throughout the country.
At the time of this writing, the Blinded Veterans Association is gearing up for its 71st National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We will be conducting the business of the organization, reconnecting with old friends and making new ones, and participating in forums, training sessions, and fun activities. I am looking forward to a great convention and exciting time during the week of August 22-26.
Whether you are able to read this message before or after the convention, I am confident that the event has built-in success and will sail smoothly.
Thinking about the 71st convention reminds me that we are fast approaching a milestone for the organization, which will be the 75th year of serving our nation’s blinded veterans. The founders of BVA most certainly saw the need for an organization that would specifically work to meet their needs. That was the purpose of their efforts. What I’m not sure about is if they could envision where we are today with just a few remaining World War II vets whom we esteem so highly, and the thousands of blinded and visually impaired veterans from the eras of the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the first Gulf War, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
BVA’s mission, established long ago to help and strengthen one another, is still a vital one. Our membership now includes nonservice-connected veterans, many of them with age-related eye conditions. Many younger veterans not only face the challenge of visual impairment, but also side effects from Traumatic Brain Injury. Therefore, BVA must continue to evolve and make room for those who have needs that may be similar but not always identical.
I have been serving on the Board of Directors for a decade and have roughly three more years. When my time of service has ended, I will turn the reins over to younger blinded veterans. We need to be developing new leaders and volunteers to carry on the work of this longstanding organization and cause.
I am looking forward to a time of great celebration to commemorate that 75-year milestone. We were chartered by Congress in 1958 as the only Veterans Service Organization exclusively dedicated to meeting the needs of our nation’s blinded veterans. Therefore, let’s keep up the good work and pursue our mission until the needs of every blinded veteran have been met.
Retiring House Committee on Veterans Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller warmly greeted Dale Stamper prior to BVA oral testimony back on March 3. Christine Kinnard, Co-Chair for the Government Relations Committee of the Gold Star Wives of America, looks on.