Happenings In District 2
by David Fox
As most of our BVA members and other stakeholders hopefully are aware, the volunteers among us offer countless hours of their time to assist us.
Some of these volunteers are our blinded veterans themselves who serve in official capacities at VA Medical Centers, often with their spouses or other family members. Other volunteers come from additional walks of life, such as those who, under the direction of our beloved Margarine Beaman, serve us at our national and state conventions from schools, military bases, scout troops, and other Veterans Service Organizations.
Volunteers are a meaningful adjunct to our BVA Field Service Program, especially those who serve as Volunteer Service Officers and who are accredited by VA to provide claims assistance to veterans. As our outreach brochure states, they are empowered to do this by virtue of their qualifications and training. Collectively they donate thousands of hours of service annually.
Many of our members and Bulletin readers may not be aware that a BVA liaison sits on the VA Voluntary Services (VAVS) National Advisory Committee, providing guidance to ensure that blindness issues are addressed at VA Medical Centers. Members of our regional groups represent BVA on local VAVS Advisory Committees. In this manner we collaborate with VAVS partners to identify, articulate, and implement initiatives, programs, and training that meet the needs of blinded and visually impaired veterans.
Those of us who volunteer at VA Medical Centers are also paying back and paying forward that which dedicated VA employees and volunteers have done or will do for us in the future.
The tasks may sometimes seem mundane—helping with mailings, phone calls, or support group activities—but many of us have witnessed what a difference such help can make. Sometimes we perceive that we are merely a warm body in getting one of these mundane tasks accomplished, but we never know at the moment what results such efforts may produce in obtaining help for a veteran with vision loss. We may also be unaware of our potential to lift the spirits of one of our veterans.
Although the real thanks are felt when we observe and realize the value of our service, I still wish to take a stab at letting our volunteers in the O-K-I Regional Group and District 2 know how much I appreciate their service. I do the same by extension to all of our volunteers nationwide.
Obviously, our annual David L. Schnair Award seeks to recognize the individual who best exemplifies this service, but there are so many more out there who are giving of themselves on a daily basis. May we recognize and thank them as often as possible and do our very best to serve others as others have served us.