Happenings In District 3
by Vernon Richmond
Once this issue of the BVA Bulletin finally arrives at your homes or on your computer screens or Compact Disk players, we will already be more than four months removed from the official date of BVA’s 72nd anniversary this past March 28.
Many of our newest members may not know that BVA’s history began with a formal 1945 meeting of approximately 100 World War II combat-blinded veterans who were recuperating and receiving rehabilitation training at Old Farms Army Convalescent Hospital in Avon, Connecticut. Baynard Kendrick, author of the novel and eventual movie “Lights Out” about a veteran blinded in World War II, organized the meeting and invited individual veterans to attend.
Not until now have I had the opportunity to publicly commend the regional groups out there who so effectively commemorated the day with luncheons, birthday cakes, white cane walks, petitions for proclamations from local government officials, and efforts to engage local media to recognize the day. Within my own District 3, we had tables set up with cupcakes and drinks in Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina. The Puerto Rico Regional Group scheduled and carried out a white cane walk.
I would like to recognize and single out the Richmond Chapter of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Group for its outstanding efforts, and the amazing VA support the group received from VIST Coordinator Evelyn Cabrera-Heatwole and Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center Director John A. Brandecker.
Although many of our other regional groups throughout the country did similar things successfully for this special day, I wish to hold the Richmond Chapter up as a positive example of what can be done with a coordinated effort and a few conscientious individuals. Enlisting VA assistance, the chapter’s members and leadership went out and put something together in the name of the organization, which to me is what BVA is all about.
Meemee Graham, VA Voluntary Services in Richmond, Virginia, reads an enlarged version of the 2010 Congressional Resolution to Richmond Chapter members and outside onlookers. The resolution designates March 28 each year as National Blinded Veterans Day.
In the process of organizing and implementing this event in Richmond, the veterans may well have brightened someone’s day by talking with them about the organization. Or perhaps they taught someone more about blinded veterans from the publicity that was in the medical center newsletter about the event. Perhaps the benefit for some was simply the physical exercise from the walk that they organized.
When we are engaged together in worthwhile activities as blinded veterans, only good can result from such activities. Therefore, I humbly petition our regional groups and chapters, no matter how small or how previously inactive, to get out and do something related to BVA in the capacity of community service, a social activity, educating the public, or influencing local legislation. Even if only one or two of you are involved due to others’ apathy or lack of interest, start with just yourselves and check out where your efforts take you. You may be very surprised by the results!