RESOLUTION 28-05

Resolution: CAT Training

WHEREAS, there is currently a lack of standardization in the BRC computer training programs across the country in both curriculum and staff qualifications to teach veterans to use a computer, AND

WHEREAS, this leads to inconsistent teaching methods and outcomes, THEREFORE BE IT 

RESOLVED, The Blinded Veterans Association in convention assembled in Miami Beach, Florida on this 20th day of August, 2005 that VACO BRS in partnership with the BVA work together to bring about corrective action, AND FURTHER BE IT

RESOLVED, that the BVA/BRS Strategic Work Group be used for the purpose of such problem solving, AND FINALLY BE IT

RESOLVED, that the use of subject matter expert consultants from outside the VA be explored as a viable resource in the problem solving and training process to help analyze, develop national standards and provide training for those VA staff providing computer instruction.

RESOLUTION 29-05

Establish a national trust fund to compensate veterans for service connected illnesses caused by asbestos exposure.

WHEREAS, asbestos use in the military was prevalent during and after World War II; AND

WHEREAS, veterans who served in the military before mid-1970 continue to be diagnosed with asbestos related diseases due to long latency periods from exposure to the first symptoms of diseases; AND

WHEREAS, recent data reflects that claims from individuals exposed to asbestos in military service and ship yard construction accounted for 26% of all mesothelioma cases, 16% of all other lung cancer cases and 13% of all disabling lung diseases; AND

WHEREAS, the Department of Veterans Affairs continues to receive claims from veterans for illnesses related to asbestos exposure however, less than one third of known VA asbestos claimants receive service connected compensation for their asbestos diseases, AND

WHEREAS, the Department of Veterans Affairs acknowledges that 50% of veterans with asbestosis will eventually develop lung cancer, approximately 17% will develop mesothelioma and approximately 10% will develop gastrointestinal and urogenital cancers; AND

WHEREAS, all veterans with significant asbestosis will develop corpulmonale and those who do not die from cancer often die from heart failure secondary to corpulmonale; AND

WHEREAS, veterans have limited avenues to seek compensation for service connected illnesses caused by asbestos exposure and, further, the existing tort system is cumbersome and time consuming with varying recoveries that often depend on the locality where the claim is filed; AND

WHEREAS, replacing the existing tort system with a national trust fund that would pay veterans, their families and others suffering from asbestos related illnesses - a fund that does not replace, offset or alter current benefits available to veterans through the Department of Veterans Affairs compensation system - would be beneficial to veterans; AND

WHEREAS, a National trust fund would be an additional avenue of recovery for veterans and their families and provide them prompt, fair and certain payment for asbestos related diseases, NOW THEREFORE BE IT 

RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Miami Beach, Florida on this 20th day of August, 2005, supports passage of S-852 which establishes a national trust fund to replace the existing tort system for compensating veterans, their families and others suffering from asbestos related illnesses, AND BE IT FURTHER 

RESOLVED, the national trust fund will fairly compensate veterans suffering from asbestos related illnesses, and as appropriate, their dependents and survivors, AND BE IT FURTHER

RESOLVED, that veterans will be compensated through the national trust fund on a no-fault basis thereby ending the vagaries and lengthy delays of the current tort/bankrupt system, AND FINALLY BE IT 

RESOLVED, that the National trust fund established to compensate asbestos victims shall not replace, offset or diminish current benefits available to veterans through the Department of Veterans Affairs compensation system.

The intent of this resolution is to support the creation of a national trust fund to pay the claims of veterans and their dependents suffering from asbestos related illnesses without altering the current benefits available through the VA compensation system.

RESOLUTION 30-05

Training of Eye Care Professionals in Blind and Low Vision

WHEREAS, there is a national shortage of Optometrist and Ophthalmologist educated and trained in the field of blind and low vision, AND

WHEREAS, a continuum if blind and low vision care requires eye care professionals trained in blind and low vision, AND

WHEREAS, the provision of local blind and low vision services are essential to meet the needs of the vast majority of blind and low vision veterans who cannot attend a VA BRC for whatever reason, or who are waiting for admission to a BRC, AND

WHEREAS, the VA currently has no comprehensive plan to provide training for VA eye care professionals in the provision of blind and low vision services, THEREFORE BE IT 

RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Miami Beach, Florida on this 20th day of August, 2005, urges the BVA meet with top management of the VA, Ophthalmology, Optometry and the Director of BRS to encourage the development of a plan of action to train eye care professionals in blind and low vision, AND FURTHER BE IT 

RESOLVED, that the BVA be a full partner and as such be included as a member of a team planning and enacting such training.

COMMENT: This Resolution attempts to alleviate the existing shortage of Eye Care Professionals trained in Blind and Low Vision within the VA.

RESOLUTION 31-05

Outsourcing of Vision Rehabilitation Services in the Community

WHEREAS, there are long waits for access to services for blinded veterans at residential blind rehabilitation centers (BRCs) and many veterans cannot attend a BRC, AND

WHEREAS, BVA feels some of these veterans waiting could have their needs wholly or in part met in the local community rather than in a residential BRC, AND

WHEREAS, there is a growing number of veterans unable to attend a BRC and who still require services, AND

WHEREAS, the Blind Rehabilitation Service has focused on BRC training in the past with inadequate planning and program development to meet the needs of the majority of blinded veterans who never attend a BRC, AND

WHEREAS, the BVA feels it is time for BRS to develop a strategic plan to provide local services with funding to meet the needs of blinded veterans unable to attend a BRC, THEREFORE BE IT 

RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association in convention assembled, in Miami Beach, Florida on this 20th day of August, 2005, strongly urge BRS to immediately develop a strategic action plan using clinical indicators to identify veterans that need to go to a BRC and those that would be better served to provide local services in the community as this will provide needed guidelines to the field staff, AND FURTHER BE IT 

RESOLVED, that the BVA convey to BRS and the Congress that the intent is to “leave no blinded veterans behind” which has a top priority within the BVA organization.

COMMENT: Urges BRS to develop a plan and field guidelines for providing local services for blinded veterans that do not attend a BRC.

RESOLUTION 32-05

VIST and BROS Alignment at Blind Rehabilitation Centers 

WHEREAS, at VA blind rehabilitation centers (BRCs) the VIST Coordinator and Blind Rehabilitation Outpatient Specialist (BROS) are aligned under the BRC chief, AND

WHEREAS, the VIST Coordinator and BROS need to be able to independently serve veterans without the BRC Chief exercising undo influence or placing undue restrictions upon the provision of local services to veterans, AND

WHEREAS, the BRC Chief should not be in a position to deny the provision of prosthetics such as daily living aids and optical devices to blinded veterans who choose to not attend a BRC, or do not need to attend the BRC, when such devices have been properly prescribed by an eye care professional, AND

WHEREAS, the BRC Chief having supervisory control over the local VIST Coordinator and BROS may tend to stifle the development of local services to veterans in the community and may give the appearance of an apparent conflict of interest, THEREFORE BE IT

RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Miami Beach, Florida on this 20th day of August, 2005, will meet with the management of the VA and the Director of BRS to make them aware of the BVA's concern regarding these issues and encourage changes that will align the VIST Coordinator and BROS under local management other than the BRC Chief to enable the VIST Coordinator and BROS to act in the best interest of the blinded veterans independent of undue influence. 

COMMENT: This Resolution will assist in alleviating the perception that needed services and issuance of prosthetics may be denied or delayed by a BRC Chief in an attempt to persuade a veteran to enter the BRC.

RESOLUTIONS 33-38