Operation Peer Support (OPS) News

Operation Peer Support (OPS) is a program designed to support the hundreds men and women who are returning to the US blinded or experiencing significant visual impairment in connection with their service fighting the Global War on Terror; Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).

BVA Members Experience Ski Trip to Steamboat Springs

By Chet Curtis

Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports (STARS) in Steamboat, Colorado played host to several BVA members in January as part of the Operation Peer Support Program. BVA members Shelton Ponder, Doris Jones, Daniel Johnson, Lonnie Bedwell, Darlene Saye, Monaca Gilmore and Brian Harris enjoyed a weekend of skiing and snowboarding courtesy of STARS.

STARS was formed in 2006 by a group of parents, ski instructors, and management from Steamboat Ski Corporation to help provide improved winter recreational programs and equipment for people with disabilities as well as scholarships for those that could not afford to participate.

After meeting their instructors and getting fitted with ski boots, helmets, skis, poles and other equipment, the group hit the slopes.

“We went to the “Magic Carpet” said Shelton Ponder, which was a four foot wide belt where we attached our skies before going to the beginners area.”

In this area various training methods were introduced such as “the pole” where two instructors were on either end and the skier was in the middle. “We took several runs down the hill that had a pink dye line in the snow said Ponder. “I had to take a few spills but what a rush!

The group spent an hour doing various maneuvers before going on to a slightly steeper slope where after several spills they began to feel more comfortable on skis and started to employ the techniques learned on the first slope.

Afterwards, the group posed for photos and had the opportunity to know their instructors better before going down the slope on a Gondola.

In the evening there was a send-off for the U.S. Ski team outside where photos and autographs were available. There were also announcements on the loudspeakers recognizing previous skiers on the US Team who were from area.

On the last day of the weekend, STARS instructors were amazed about the progress the OPS group had made as they were now skiing on their own. Everyone had a great time and we want to thank the Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports establishment for having us and especially thank our instructors, Anne, Kreig, Jim, Greg, and Ron, all marvelous and thorough instructors.

Upcoming OPS Events

The Bataan Memorial Death March

This is a challenging 26.2-mile full marathon march through high desert terrain in honor of the heroic service members who defended the Philippine Islands during World War II as they sacrificed their freedom, health, and, in many cases, their lives. This event will host four members of the BVA, Joe Bogart (BVA Executive Director), Mark Cornell (Past BVA National President San Antonio, TX), Carlos Pere (Florida Regional Group Central West Director, Riverview, FL), and Monaca Gilmore (BVA National Sergeant-At-Arms, Whitakers, NC) and a minimum of at least 2 sighted guides. This event is scheduled 25 March at the White Sands Missile Range near Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Ranger Appalachian Trail March


Blinded Veterans from the US and UK will walk sections of the Appalachian Trail from North to South through North Georgia in June to foster fellowship, espirit de corps, team work, and provide a wilderness challenge. The adventure will begin near Blue Ridge Gap (vicinity of North Carolina border) and finish at the US Army Ranger Camp in Dahlonega, Georgia (73.5 miles) over rugged and rocky terrain reaching elevations of 4,400 feet.

Blinded Veterans will team with their experienced Ranger Instructor/Guide for every aspect of this adventure. The team will carry required equipment and rations to sustain themselves between mission support sites (MSS) where additional supplies will be located. MSS sites will be pre-established by a support team that will provide a Spartan, but adequate camp for the teams each evening.

The veterans who will participate in this hike are motivated, dedicated and driven to memorialize the June 6, 1944 allied invasion of Normandy, France. During their trek the team members will discuss important historical facts and history of the June 1944 invasion, all the while remembering those honorable service members who came before them.

For more information about the trail event and the day's activities onsite, please visit www.blindat.org/.

Heroes New Hope Foundation all-inclusive turkey hunting trip for blinded veterans

This event will host 2-4 blinded veterans for an all-inclusive turkey hunt which will include travel, lodging, license fees, tags, and meals. All attendees will have a professional guide to assist them in all aspects of this event. Dates are To Be Determined..

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