REPORT OF BVA 69TH NATIONAL CONVENTION BYLAWS AND RESOLUTIONS COMMITTEE

 

RESOLUTION 12-14

VA is facing a potential shortage of highly qualified health care professionals as a result of the high percentage of “Boomers near retirement”, AND

WHEREAS, VHA Blind Rehabilitation Service (BRS) is also confronting the potential loss of a large percentage of its workforce, AND

WHEREAS, the NPC positions are critical in providing education, training, and oversight for full-time Visual Impairment Service Team (VIST) Coordinators and Blind Rehabilitation Outpatient Specialists (BROS), AND

WHEREAS, many long time VIST Coordinators are retiring and many new BROS positions have been established, AND

WHEREAS, the need for the NPC positions is even more critical,AND

WHEREAS, Veteran Integrated Service Networks (VISN) and Facilities are reluctant to fill vacant positions, THEREFORE BE IT

RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association in convention assembled in Sparks, Nevada, on this 21st day of August, 2014, strongly urge the Under Secretary of Health to require Network and Facility Directors to begin recruitment and training programs for succession of VIST, BROS, and other vision rehabilitation staff and continue to fill the NPC positions.

RESOLUTION 13-14

VA established a policy prohibiting national training programs of more than fifty (50) personnel, AND

WHEREAS, VA Blind Rehabilitation Service has conducted a national training program for Visual Impairment Team Coordinators (VIST) and Blind Rehabilitation Outpatient Specialist (BROS) for twenty years in conjunction with the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) National Convention, AND

WHEREAS, VA Blind Rehabilitation Service has expanded services to visually impaired and blinded veterans over those years, AND

WHEREAS, many professionals hired by the Blind Rehabilitation Service to provide high quality comprehensive services to America’s visually impaired and blinded veterans are new to the VA Health Care system, AND

WHEREAS, national training is essential to ensure that these professionals possess appropriate competencies to deliver high quality services, AND

WHEREAS, VA economically benefits from holding this national training program in conjunction with BVA’s National Convention, AND

WHEREAS, at least one third of VA Blind Rehabilitation Service professionals are eligible for retirement, AND

WHEREAS, failure to provide adequate training for new hires unfamiliar with the VA Health Care system will result in visually impaired and blinded veterans not receiving essential services, THEREFORE BE IT

RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Sparks, Nevada, on this 21st day of August, 2014, urges the Secretary of the Department of VA to reinstate the Blind Rehabilitation (VIST and BROS) national training program to continue on an annual basis.

RESOLUTION 14-14

WHEREAS,on July 30, 2009, the United States signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The CRPD is the first treaty to address disability rights globally. While the Convention does not establish new human rights, it describes the obligations of countries to promote, protect, and ensure the rights of persons with disabilities, AND

WHEREAS, as of June 2013 the Convention had 113 ratifications and 153 signatures. Key US allies such as Australia, Canada, France, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Korea, United Kingdom and Germany have already ratified the treaty, AND

WHEREAS, on May 17 2012, the Obama Administration transmitted its CRPD treaty package for Senate consideration following an extensive three- year interagency review of the treaty and U.S. legislation. The review determined that the majority of provisions of the treaty are consistent with current US ADA legislation. For the limited cases where existing U.S. law may not be consistent with the CRPD, the treaty package recommends reservations, understanding, and a declaration (RUDS) that ensures that no change in U.S. law and no additional costs are required in order to ratify the CRPD, AND

WHEREAS, ratification of the CRPD would present the opportunity for a reaffirmation of the values in our ADA legislation and provide the forum to advance these values worldwide, AND

WHEREAS, the U.S. Senate, led by a bipartisan group of seven U.S. Senators who received the CRPD treaty package for their advice and consent and now 21 major veterans and military service organizations and over 165 disability organizations announce their support for U.S. ratification of the CRPD in the Senate, THEREFORE BE IT

RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Sparks, Nevada, on this 21st day of August, 2014, urges the U.S. Senate to ratify the CRPD treaty.

 

RESOLUTION 15-14

WHEREAS, Blind Rehabilitation Service was created within VA Central Office with authority and responsibility regarding all aspects of VA vision rehabilitation services, AND

WHEREAS, the relationship with BVA and BRS was mutually productive since the establishment of the collaboration, AND

WHEREAS, VIST, BROS, VICTORS, VISOR, and CATS are among programs and services spawned by the relationship between BRS and BVA, AND

WHEREAS, BVA and BRS collaborated on the establishment of the Continuum of Care for visually impaired veterans and of the Vision Center of Excellence, AND

WHEREAS, within the last eight years authority over blind rehabilitation services was decentralized relative to BRS, AND

WHEREAS, authority over VIST, VISOR, and BROS programs and Blind Rehabilitation Centers was transferred to the individual medical centers housing each program, AND

WHEREAS, staff tasked with service delivery and supervision of vision rehabilitation programs at the medical centers have little or no education or other experience with blindness, AND

WHEREAS, clinical services for vision rehabilitation services are not or cannot be adequately provided by many stations, AND

WHEREAS, often the quality of vision rehabilitation services deteriorates commensurately with the lack of professional competencies and subject matter expertise of vision rehabilitation clinic service providers at many stations, AND

WHEREAS, visually impaired veterans are therefore losing access to benefits, services, and eligibility fostered by the relationship with centralized BRS authority and responsibility, AND

WHEREAS, Congressional action is required to centralize BRS in the VA Central Office so that both authority and responsibility for vision rehabilitation services rest in the hands of that historically supportive service, THEREFORE BE IT

RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Sparks, Nevada, on this 21st day of August, 2014, BVA work through its Legislative Director and supportive members of Congress to empower the Department of Veteran affairs to restore centralization of vision rehabilitation services to Blind Rehabilitation Service in VA Central Office.

RESOLUTION 16-14

WHEREAS, Section 110, Title 38, United States Code, now provides for the protection of all disability compensation evaluations that have been continuously in effect for 20 or more years, AND

WHEREAS, permanency should be conceded for disability compensation ratings which have been in effect for 10 years without change in evaluation with no further examination scheduled, THEREFORE BE IT

RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Sparks, Nevada, on this 21st day of August, 2014, supports amendment of Section 110, Title 38, United States Code, to provide that disability evaluations continuously in effect at the same evaluation rate be protected after a period of 10 years.

 

RESOLUTION 17-14

WHEREAS,members of BVA served their country during time of war in order to preserve the rights and privileges of life in this land of the free, AND

WHEREAS, one of the most precious of those rights is the right to vote, AND

WHEREAS, the United States Congress and the President’s Administration have failed to fulfill their obligation to our Nation’s blind veterans, providing inadequate funding for veterans’ benefits and health care, AND

WHEREAS, the United States Congress and the President’s Administration have targeted veterans’ programs for unwarranted spending cuts and reductions under the mistaken and misguided theory that veterans do not base their vote on veterans’ issues, AND

WHEREAS, the failure of blind veterans to register and vote will result in the perpetuation of this theory, AND

WHEREAS, because of their disabilities, blind veterans have more difficulty than their non-blind peers in complying with some of the more strict requirements in voter registration laws, AND

WHEREAS, there exists an urgent need for veterans, their families and all Americans concerned about veterans’ issues to make their voice heard by becoming registered voters and exercising their vote in local, state, and federal elections,THEREFORE BE IT

RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Sparks, Nevada, on this 21st day of August, 2014, encourages 100 percent of our members to become registered to vote and thereby strengthen our organization’s ability to preserve and improve our system of veterans’ benefits and services, AND BE IT FURTHER 

RESOLVED, that all BVA Regional Groups initiate and operate voter registration drives targeted at increasing voter registration among veterans and their families, AND FINALLY, BE IT

RESOLVED, that all BVA Regional Groups, and members are encouraged to ensure that all veterans and their family members are able to get to polling locations to vote or vote by mail-in absentee ballots.

RESOLUTION 18-14

WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court, by a 5-4 decision, has ruled that public desecration of the American Flag as a form of free speech and expression is legal and permissible, AND 

WHEREAS, the American Flag—“Old Glory”—is our National Ensign, the proud and beautiful symbol of our country’s precious free heritage, AND

WHEREAS, this symbol, in the form of our irreplaceable “Stars and Stripes,” has been carried and defended in battle, revered, and cherished by its citizens, and viewed as a beacon of hope and fulfillment by all the world since it was first unfurled at the birth of our Nation, AND

WHEREAS, the Constitutional First Amendment guarantee of Freedom of Speech was not intended by our Founding Fathers to enable individuals who enjoy unfettered freedom to express their views, no matter how abhorrent, in both oral and written form, and to publicly and contemptuously desecrate our beloved flag, NOW THEREFORE BE IT

RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association in convention assembled in Sparks, Nevada, on this 21st day of August, 2014, goes on record as condemning any individual or group who shall at any time publicly and willfully desecrate the flag of the United States.

RESOLUTION 19-14

WHEREAS, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) currently employs diagnostic codes outlined in the International Classification of Diseases 9 Clinical Modifications (ICD-9 CM) as its primary method of determining veterans’ eligibility for many programs, health care services, benefits, and statistical research purposes, AND  

WHEREAS, the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 postponed the adoption of the International Classification of Diseases 1CD-9 and ICD-10 until at least October 1, 2015, AND

WHEREAS, many community medical providers have already started training and implementing ICD-10 within their practices and electronic medical records (EMR), AND

WHEREAS, many Visual Impairment Services Team coordinators (VIST) are either or supervised by Social Workers and other non-blind Rehabilitation Specialists Allied Health Professions who rely on ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes to determine VIST eligibility, AND

WHEREAS, a VIST supervisor stated that she acknowledges only those veterans with an ICD-9 code of 369.4 as veterans who comprise the VIST lifelong case management protocols, AND

WHEREAS, the VIST handbook dated 2009 to 2014 does not explicitly identify a baseline series of ICD-9 and ICD-10 VIST eligibility codes or descriptions of functional sight impairments not covered by diagnostic codes, AND

WHEREAS, Blind Rehabilitation Services has not drafted and published a formal policy memorandum that identifies a baseline set of ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes and functional sight impairments not described within diagnostic codes to be considered for BRS programs, THEREFORE BE IT 

RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association in convention assembled in Sparks, Nevada, on this 21st day of August, 2014, direct BRS to establish a policy memorandum and update the VIST handbook to include a baseline set of ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes as well as verbiage for functional sight loss not outlined in any ICD code for BRS services eligibility, AND FURTHER BE IT

RESOLVED, that BRS offers training to VIST coordinators, VIST supervisors, other employees of BRS programs, other Allied Health professions, and individuals interested in BRS programs on ICD-9 CM and ICD-10 codes related to visual impairments.

RESOLUTION 20-14

Narrative Statement

We, the membership of the Blinded Veterans Association, implore the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to review and modify procedures whereby blinded veterans are assessed, trained, and issued devices and programs classified as assistive technology. Currently, the system is fragmented due to a lack of uniformity between professional credentialing or licensing requirements; varying stances by VAMC prosthetics interpretations of regulations; and training protocols throughout all BRCs, VISOR, and VICTOR programs. We request that, in order for us to regain our positions within society, VHA evaluate and establish protocols, policies, and methods by which Blind Rehabilitation Service and Prosthetics conduct assistive technology programs for veterans. We therefore submit the following resolution:

Transformation of the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) Blind Rehabilitation Services (BRS) and Prosthetics Management, Training, and Issuance of Assistive Technology.

WHEREAS, VHA BRS developed and executed blind rehabilitation programs focusing on core competencies of daily living skills, manual skills, computing skills, and orientation and mobility, AND

WHEREAS, BVA provides input into the annual Veterans Service Organization Independent Budget (VSOIB) related to BRS, which funds assistive technology related programs, AND

WHEREAS, BVA serves on the BRS Oversight Committee providing input on quality of services that veterans express, AND

WHEREAS, VHA Prosthetics operates closely with BRS entities to issue requested equipment, software, devices, and services for blind and visually impaired veterans who successfully demonstrated competencies with said items, AND

WHEREAS, the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP) or other Allied Health licensure or credentialing boards omit assistive technology training from initial and renewal training requirements, AND

WHEREAS, staff and supervisors within Blind Rehabilitation Service admit to being unprepared and unable to remain abreast of evolutionary advances within technology, AND

WHEREAS, no entity within BRS possesses a primary duty or responsibility to research information and strategies to integrate new technologies within traditional blind rehabilitation protocols,AND

WHEREAS, blind and visually impaired veterans often lack the right of self-determination when requesting assistive technology training, violating Prosthetics Clinical Management Program (PCMP) guidelines which safeguards against the inappropriate standardization or limitation of potential types of prosthetics devices, AND

WHEREAS, many VAMC Prosthetics established local policies that create barriers for the issuance of off-contract devices and services like smartphones or third-party assistive technology training programs, AND

WHEREAS, the BRCs, the Visual Impairment Centers To Optimize Remaining Sight (VICTORS), Visual Impairment Services Outpatient Rehabilitation (VISOR) Programs, and Vision Impairment Services Programs (VISPs) have failed to adopt a uniform set of rehabilitation protocols for the training of blind and visually impaired Veterans, AND

WHEREAS, Vision Impairment Services Team (VIST) Coordinators and Blind Rehabilitation Outpatient Specialists (BROS) lack assessment tools and technical expertise to adequately inform and refer blind and visually impaired veterans for training or replacement of assistive technologies, AND

WHEREAS, the plethora of electronic devices and mediums continuously receive updates, or new products are introduced, AND 

WHEREAS, blind and visually impaired veterans need to seamlessly utilize technology to accomplish tasks that dramatically enhance quality of life, THEREFORE BE IT 

RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Sparks, Nevada, on this 21st day of August, 2014, request that VA Blind Rehabilitation Service (BRS) establish baseline professional training requirements on assistive technologies for blindness within BRS for roles such as Blind Rehabilitation Specialists, BROS, and VIST Coordinators, AND BE IT FURTHER

RESOLVED, that BRS develops a uniform series of blind rehabilitation protocols and policies for BRC, VICTORS, VISOR, and VISP programs to utilize as a template that integrate assistive technology within all blind rehabilitation training protocols, AND BE IT FURTHER

RESOLVED, that BRS establish assessment tools related to assistive technology referrals to BRCs for training for VIST Coordinators and BROS, AND BE IT FURTHER

RESOLVED, that the Director of BRS urge ACVREP to update educational goals and credentialing standards to include efficacious assistive technology practices throughout all blind rehabilitation core competencies, AND BE IT FURTHER

RESOLVED, that VHA modify the Prosthetics Clinical Management Program (PCMP) to ensure that clinicians, like Blind Rehabilitation Specialists or Low Vision Therapists, are allowed to prescribe prosthetic devices and sensory aids on the basis of patient needs and medical conditions, including emerging technologies, AND FINALLY BE IT

RESOLVED, that VHA modify the PCMP to permit clinicians, such as Blind Rehabilitation Specialists or Low Vision Therapists, to prescribe devices, third-party training services, and software that are “off-contract” without arduous waiver procedures that serve as barriers, or because of fear of repercussion.

RESOLUTION 21-14

WHEREAS, even though veterans’ health care is funded through an advance appropriation, it is still at the discretion of Congress to provide the level of funding necessary for the veterans’ health care system, AND

WHEREAS, the President and many members of Congress insist that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system is adequately funded, AND

WHEREAS, VA is recognized as the best health care system in the United States, and for providing high quality health care services, AND

WHEREAS, by using the VA health care system, the President, Vice President, and members of Congress would be in a better position to understand the resource needs of VA to enable it to provide timely quality health care to our nation’s veterans, AND

WHEREAS, similar to the members of the military, the President, Vice President, and most Members of Congress are required to spend a significant amount of time away from their homes, families, and friends while Congress is in session, AND

WHEREAS, because of the patriotism, devotion, and sacrifices of our President, Vice President, and Members of Congress, ours is the most free nation on earth where our citizens enjoy unequalled rights, privileges, and prosperity, AND

WHEREAS, the President, Vice President, and Members of Congress should therefore be granted the privilege of using the VA health care system for their medical needs, AND 

WHEREAS, if the President, Vice President, or member of Congress is a veteran, he or she would be classified into the proper priority group for purpose of receipt of VA medical care, AND

WHEREAS, if the President, Vice President, or member of Congress is not a veteran, he or she would be classified as a non service-connected veteran in either Priority Group 7 or 8, depending on his/her income, NOW THEREFORE BE IT

RESOLVED, that Blinded Veterans Association in National Convention assembled in Sparks, Nevada, on this 21st day of August, 2014, supports legislation to require the President, Vice President, and Members of Congress to enroll in VA medical care services and receive health care exclusively from the VA health care system.

RESOLUTIONS 1-11