REPORT OF BVA 63RD NATIONAL CONVENTION BYLAWS AND RESOLUTIONS COMMITTEE
RESOLVED, that the National President shall send letters of appreciation to organizations and individuals contributing to the success of the 63rd National Convention, as well as to other individuals and organizations assisting and supporting BVA during the past year.
WHEREAS, the Visual Impairment Service Team (VIST) approach to service delivery was established in 1967 to provide much needed outreach services to blinded veterans, AND
WHEREAS, because of staffing and funding problems, these services have not been provided to all eligible blinded veterans, or in equal proportions, AND
WHEREAS, the VIST Coordinator is the TEAM member responsible for initiating aggressive outreach activities and the timely delivery of comprehensive services, AND
WHEREAS, in several stations, VIST Coordinators have other responsibilities in addition to the VISTs, thus precluding the provision of needed services to all eligible veterans, AND
WHEREAS, the quality and quantity of services are directly dependent upon the amount of time that the Coordinator has to devote to this assignment and upon that person's knowledge and motivation to provide the needed services, AND
WHEREAS, in some stations these services have been even further eroded by decisions made by supervisors regarding the selection, placement, and changing of Coordinators, AND
WHEREAS, it is understood that direct funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs Central Office has been provided to such programs as alcohol abuse, drug abuse, day treatment centers, spinal cord injury centers, etc., AND
WHEREAS, more efficient and timely services could be provided to eligible blinded veterans if a similar approach was taken to the funding of Full-Time Coordinators for VIS Teams, THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Phoenix, Arizona on this 16th day of August, 2008, hereby strongly urges the Department of Veterans Affairs to take prompt, positive action to provide funding for Full-Time Coordinators of all remaining VIS Teams presently not so funded in the Department of Veterans Affairs system, AND
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Director of Blind Rehabilitation Service, Department of Veterans Affairs Headquarters, should concur in the selection, placement, and assignment of staff personnel filling the positions of VIS Team Coordinators.
WHEREAS, visual impairments are the third most prevalent factor in limiting the activities of individuals, AND
WHEREAS, the prevalence of visual impairments of those aged 65 and over is eight times the rate for those under 65, and 50 percent of all visually impaired persons in the United States are over the age of 65, AND
WHEREAS, 70-80 percent of individuals over age 65 currently classified as legally blind can be helped to perform daily living functions by low-vision or vision rehabilitation services, AND
WHEREAS, financial resources are often a key factor in receiving such assistance, AND
WHEREAS, under current law, vision rehabilitation services and aids for the blind are excluded from coverage by Medicare or Medicaid, THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Phoenix, Arizona, on this 16th day of August, 2008, supports coverage under Medicare and Medicaid programs of vision aids for visually-impaired persons eligible for Medicare and Medicaid.
WHEREAS, federal funding for stipends and fellowships for students in personnel training programs to be teachers of the visually handicapped, orientation and mobility instructors, rehabilitation teachers, and counselors for the blind have been reduced each year since 1976, AND
WHEREAS, the reduction of funding has caused many professional preparation programs to reduce faculty positions, has closed many programs, and has frustrated development of high caliber personnel, AND
WHEREAS, these reductions in funds have forced the programs to reduce the number of students accepted, and the reduction in stipends has made it difficult to recruit applicants for study in numbers equal to program capacity, AND
WHEREAS, the incidence of blindness and visual impairment is expected to dramatically increase over the next fifteen years, while the number of qualified graduates continues to decrease,AND
WHEREAS, the shortage of qualified professionals in work with blind persons has in some instances caused a shift to service provision by persons with general education who have no knowledge of the unique needs of blind persons, AND
WHEREAS, the only certain means of assuring stipends and fellowships for students to alleviate the shortage is through categorical funding, THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Phoenix, Arizona, on this 16th day of August, 2008, urges the U.S. Congress to enact legislation to fund categorical programs for professional preparation of education and rehabilitation personnel serving people who are severely visually impaired and blind, AND
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED, that BVA encourage the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Academic Affairs to explore partnering with University Preparation Programs to assure an adequate supply of professionally trained Vision Rehabilitation specialists.
WHEREAS, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in July 1990, AND
WHEREAS, blind and visually-impaired individuals historically have experienced extreme difficulty in finding meaningful employment or advancing beyond entry level positions when employment is found, AND
WHEREAS, the provisions of ADA require reasonable accommodations for disabled persons, AND
WHEREAS, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employs disabled people, many of whom are blind or severely visually-impaired, THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Phoenix, Arizona, on this 16th day of August, 2008, urges VA to insure that all visually-impaired and blind employees have reasonable accommodations, including necessary training on essential access technology, AND
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED, that VA establish an aggressive outreach program to hire more disabled individuals, especially disabled veterans.
WHEREAS, currency is used by virtually everyone in everyday life including blind and visually-impaired persons, AND
WHEREAS, the currency of the United States is, at the present time, impossible to identify without vision or electric device, AND
WHEREAS, most blind and visually impaired persons are therefore required to rely upon others to determine denominations of such currency, AND
WHEREAS, this constitutes a serious impediment to independence in everyday living, AND
WHEREAS, electronic means of bill identification will always have more potential for fallibility than purely tactile means, AND
WHEREAS, readily identifiable currency is consistent with the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act, AND
WHEREAS, a suitable method of visual identification has been introduced for visually-impaired persons, AND
WHEREAS, no tactile means of identifying currency has yet been developed or introduced; THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Phoenix, Arizona, on this 16th day of August, 2008, strongly supports efforts to make currency of the United States tactually identifiable within a reasonable period of time.
WHEREAS, members of the Armed Forces of the United States of America are on duty 24 hours a day and may be subject to multiple hazards, hostile environments and unknown health conditions as a matter of course during their tours of duty in the Department of Defense, THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, the Blinded Veterans Association, in Convention assembled in Phoenix, Arizona, on this 16th day of August, 2008, that these veterans shall not be innocent victims of indiscriminate budget-cutting efforts by attempting to change the method for service-connected compensation for injury or disease to performance of duty; AND
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the current line of duty approach shall remain as the standard applied to veterans’ claims.
WHEREAS, nonpayment of both retirement pay and veterans disability is an injustice to the veteran, AND
WHEREAS, retirement pay is for the time served in any military branch, AND
WHEREAS, veterans’ disability compensation is for a disability or injury while on active duty, NOW THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Phoenix, Arizona, on this 16th day of August, 2008, strongly seek appropriate legislative change to permit veterans simultaneous receipt of disability compensation and military retirement pay without reduction of the retirement pay.
WHEREAS, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration has been forced to operate with decremental budgets for years, AND
WHEREAS, the administration proposed in its 1998 thru 2006 fiscal year budget for VA, that Veterans Health Administration appropriations for health care be substituted for by allowing VA to retain collections from third party payers through their Medical Care Cost Recovery program, AND
WHEREAS, this action sends a clear message to the VA and veterans that VA must rely more heavily on revenue sources other than appropriations for funding veterans health care, AND
WHEREAS, the VA has proposed a demonstration project that would allow VA to be reimbursed for medical care provided to certain veterans who have dual eligibility for VA and Medicare,AND
WHEREAS, the design of the demonstration project is a win/win for both veterans and the Medicare Trust Fund; veterans would have increased choices for receiving health care and the Medicare Trust Fund would save money because the VA has agreed to provide care at a discounted rate to Medicare recipients, AND
WHEREAS, the Department of Health and Human Services has agreed to a similar opportunity for the Department of Defense to be reimbursed by Medicare, NOW THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Phoenix, Arizona, on this 16th day of August, 2008, strongly urges the VA and Committees on Veterans Affairs in both the Senate and the House, aggressively pursue separate legislation, providing VA with the authority to establish a demonstration project for Medicare Subvention.
WHEREAS, blinded veterans referred to one of the ten VA Regional Blind Rehabilitation Centers (BRCs) for comprehensive residential blind rehab services must travel long distances to receive these rehabilitative services, AND
WHEREAS, certain blinded veterans because of their income level are not eligible for Beneficiary Travel Benefits, AND
WHEREAS, these same blinded veterans are required to pay the Social Security co-payment and daily per diem rates to receive VA residential blind rehabilitation, AND
WHEREAS, these veterans are required to pay their own travel to receive essential rehabilitative services, AND
WHEREAS, the expense of air transportation can be very high and serve as a strong disincentive for the veteran to take advantage of the VA BRC training, AND
WHEREAS, the Network hosting the BRC is reimbursed at the high or complex rate for these blinded veterans, THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Phoenix, Arizona, on this 16th day of August, 2008, urges the U.S. Congress to amend Title 38 USC section on Beneficiary Travel requiring VA to pay travel for all veterans accepted for care in one of the VA Special Disabilities Programs.
WHEREAS, new technological improvement in products in the field of Blindness Rehabilitation appear almost daily, AND
WHEREAS, currently, there is no standardized method for BREWS to systematically evaluate, test and review emerging technology,AND
WHEREAS, it is likely that some of these technological innovations will offer benefit to some portion of the blinded veteran population, THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Phoenix, Arizona, on this 16th day of August, 2008, strongly urge the Veterans Health Administration and Congress to do the following:
Instruct BRS to formulate and implement an organized method of researching and testing new technological innovations in the field of Blindness Rehabilitation using actual blinded veterans as part of the test for the viability of training and issuance of the new devices to blinded veterans. The testing procedure should include review of usage of new technology by agencies and organizations dealing with sight loss outside the Department of Veterans Affairs,AND
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED, that VHA explore partnering with the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) Technology Center in Huntington West Virginia to achieve the goals outlined in this resolution.