Letters to the Editor
Buck Gillispie Memories
I just finished reading (listening to) the latest issue of the BVA Bulletin.
I had the honor to meet Buck Gillispie on my first trip to the West Haven Blind Rehabilitation Center (BRC) in 1992 when my Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) forced me to leave my job. Buck impressed me with his vivacious, laughable manner and a hat he wore that read: “If you’ll drive me to drink, I’ll buy!”
The psychologist at West Haven asked me what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I had never had the opportunity or the finances to attend college. He encouraged me to get my education right away.
After graduating from the BRC, I did go to college and received a degree in Human Services. I then found a job as a service coordinator, assisting low-income seniors to access available services. It was very rewarding.
As my RP progressed, it was difficult even with assistive technology to continue effectively in my position. So, after ten years, I retired again. I returned to West Haven in 2003 for Computer Access Training, arriving home with a new computer and the skills to perfect what I had learned.
Now, with very limited central vision, I attended the Cleveland BRC last March for updated training, this time with the screen reader technology ZoomText Fusion and, again, a new all-in-one Hewlett-Packard computer.
I also met a classmate, Jose Sanchez, who was newly blinded after 21 years in the Marines and 20 years as a Postal Carrier. He was and is an avid runner, spending much of his time in Cleveland on the treadmill, much to the amazement of the rest of us. Jose called me last night to inform me that he has been awarded a place in the Boston Marathon! He planned to return to Cleveland in early 2017 to learn iPhone and iPad training. He is a real inspiration to blinded vets all around. I encouraged him to join BVA and hope the people at the BRC will also encourage him to join.
In early December, here in Syracuse, New York, we had our annual Blinded Veterans Support Group Christmas party at the Syracuse VA Medical Center. One of our World War II members, Joe Martone, and his son, Ralph, put on a delicious meal of turkey, ham, pies, and all the trimmings. Unfortunately, our weather did not cooperate and, frankly, we experienced a blizzard. Many of us blinded veterans were not able to attend, nor were our entertainment guests. Nevertheless, we in upstate New York are a hearty people and we will rebound quickly!
Syracuse, New York
New York Regional Group