From the Field StaffBVA Field Service Director Ed Eckroth

By Ed Eckroth

Huge Savings for New BVA Life Members

The time to join is now!

Delegates appointed by their respective regional groups to the 71st National Convention of the Blinded Veterans Association voted August 26 overwhelmingly in favor of adopting a bylaw amendment offering life membership to all blinded veterans at a discounted one-time payment in full of $20.

“Our organization needs to think outside the box and figure out a way to provide an immediate incentive to make it easier to get blind veterans to join as Life or Associate Life Members,” the proposed bylaw change justification stated. “It is evident more now than ever that BVA needs to come up with some real incentives for blind veterans to join BVA.”

The amendment, which will be in effect from September 1, 2016 through and including August 1, 2017, will save blinded veterans $30 to $80 on membership costs. Membership dues prior to the amendment were determined by age categories. Within these categories the youngest age group was paying $100 and the oldest $50 for a life membership.

“It is our hope that this bylaw amendment will inspire the some 48,000 blind veterans throughout the VA Health Care System to immediately join BVA,” the bylaw justification further stated.

Any person having been, or who is now in, the Armed Forces of the United States shall be eligible if he/she has sustained an impairment of sight or vision, which is defined as central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with corrective lenses, or a visual field restriction of no greater than 20 degrees or less in the better eye.

Life Membership is granted when the impairment of sight or vision is determined to be service-connected (in the line of duty) by VA or DoD.

Associate Life Membership is granted when the impairment of sight or vision is not determined to be service-connected (not incurred in the line of duty) by VA or DoD.

As part of the application process, the promotional membership application form sent to BVA must be accompanied by the following items on official VA letterhead or through Visual Impairment Services Team (VIST)/Veterans Health Administration examination notes:

  • Branch of Service.
  • Beginning and Ending Dates of Service.
  • Name of VIST Coordinator.
  • Confirmation of meeting standards of blindness as follows
    • ICD-9-CM Diagnosis Code 369.4 legal blindness, or
    • Visual acuity of 20/200 or worse in the better eye with corrective lenses, or
    • Visual field restriction to 20 degrees diameter or less in the better eye.

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