CHAPTER XII - AWARDS
A. Awards are presented by the Blinded Veterans Association from time to time to recognize individuals and/or organizations/agencies who have provided outstanding services or contributed to the welfare of blinded veterans in a noteworthy manner.
B. Such awards are designed to recognize the contributions/services the individual or agency has provided, and to enhance the image of the Blinded Veterans Association.
Section 2. BVA Three-Tiered System
A. The BVA currently has a three-tiered award system. The three tiers are awards presented by the BVA Regional Groups, National-level gavel awards presented to BVA Regional Groups, and awards presented on the National level.
B. The awards which may be presented in these three respective tiers are as follows:
1. Regional Group Awards
1a. Regional groups of the BVA may present certificates of appreciation, plaques or other appropriate awards to individuals and/or organizations who have been instrumental in helping the regional group or its members.
1b. Such awards should be approved by a majority vote of the regional group membership. It is the responsibility of the regional group to have such awards produced on the local level.
2. National-level Gavel Awards
2a. The BVA National organization annually presents two Gavel awards to BVA regional groups as incentives for increasing the regional group membership. These two awards, which are rotating awards, are presented at the Awards Banquet of the BVA National Convention. In accordance with the policy adopted by the BVA National Board of Directors at its annual meeting in August, 1993, both Gavel awards may not be presented to the same regional group in the same years.
2b. The two National-level Gavel awards are as follows:
2b(1). Gold Gavel Award. The Gold Gavel Award is presented to the Regional Group which achieves the largest numerical increase in membership during the past year. The award consists of a large wooden gavel with a gold band inscribed appropriately.
2b(2) Silver Gavel Award. The Silver Gavel Award is presented to the Regional Group which achieves the largest percentage increase in membership during the past year. The award consists of a large wooden gavel with a silver band inscribed appropriately.
3. National Awards
3a. The National organization of the BVA has several awards which it presents, either annually, or on an as-required basis, to deserving individuals and/or organizations which have been instrumental in assisting the Association. These awards, and the criteria for presenting them, are listed in the order of precedence as follows:
3a(1) Major General Melvin J. Mass Achievement Award . The Major General Melvin J. Maas Achievement Award is the most prestigious award which the BVA presents. This award is presented annually at the Awards Banquet of the BVA National Convention to the veteran, with service-connected blindness, who has proven himself/herself outstanding in his/her field of employment and in his/her adjustment to daily living.
3a(1)(a) The Maas Award was initiated by the late Bayard H. Kendrick, the famous mystery writer and author of Lights Out, the story of a World War II blinded veteran. This award is named in honor of the well-known U.S. Marine General who was an early president of the Blinded Veterans Association and was Chairman of the President's Committee on Employment of the Handicapped at the time of his death.
3a(1)(b) From the beginning, presentation of the Maas Award has contributed to the enhancement of a positive image of blind people and to the elimination of the perception of helplessness.
3a(1)(c) During the January/February time period of each year, the BVA National Headquarters sends out letters soliciting nominations for the Maas Award, such nominations to be submitted usually by not later than mid-April. These letters are sent to:
3a(1)(c)1 Chiefs, Vocational Rehabilitation and Counseling Sections, Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Offices;
3a(1)(c)2 Coordinators, Visual Impairment Services Teams, Department of Veterans Affairs Hospitals and Outpatient Clinics;
3a(1)(c)3 Directors, State Agencies for the Blind;
3a(1)(c)4 Presidents and Secretaries of BVA Regional Groups;
3a(1)(c)5 Members of the BVA National Board of Directors.
3a(1)(c)6 The winner of the annual Maas Award is chosen by a panel of three judges who are not affiliated with the BVA in any way, and who volunteer their services to do the judging. Every effort is made by the BVA National Headquarters to get judges who are involved in some way with disabilities.
3a(1)(c)7 A blinded veteran may win the Maas Award only once. BVA employees are not eligible for this award.
3a(1)(c)8 The Maas Award consists of a framed, calligraphied scroll and a $500.00 stipend.
3a(2) Irving Diener Award . The Irving Diener Award is the second most prestigious award which the BVA presents. Like the Maas Award, this award is also presented at the annual Awards Banquet of the BVA National Convention. It is presented each year to the Member or Associate Member who has made an outstanding contribution to the growth and development of his or her regional group.
3a(2)(a) The award, established in 1962, takes its name from the late Irving Diener, a former member of the BVA National Advisory Committee, who demonstrated a keen interest in the BVA over the years.
3a(2)(b) The Diener Award differs significantly from the Major General Melvin J. Maas Achievement Award in that the former is awarded to the veteran who contributes in an outstanding way to the BVA AS AN ORGANIZATION rather than for personal achievement in rehabilitation and in the field of employment. The award consists of a framed, calligraphied scroll and a $50.00 stipend. For the past several years, the $50.00 stipend has been donated by Mrs. Eleanor Diener Metz, the daughter of the late Irving Diener, who resides in Bryans Road, Maryland.
3a(2)(c) During the January/February time period of each year, the BVA National Headquarters solicits nominations from the regional groups and members of the BVA National Board of Directors for this award. Nominations are due at the National Headquarters usually by not later than mid-April. Judging is traditionally done by the three most recent Immediate Past National Presidents of BVA.
3a(2)(d) Like the Maas Award, a veteran may win the Diener Award only once. BVA employees are not eligible for this award.
4. BVA Certificates of Appreciation
Each year, the National organization of the BVA awards Certificates of Appreciation to those individuals, groups, employers, etc., who have provided outstanding services to blinded veterans and/or to the BVA at the National level. Outstanding services mean those positive services extended to individual blinded veterans, groups of blinded veterans, or the National BVA which creates awareness of blinded veterans, their abilities and their achievements.
4(a) National-level BVA Certificates of Appreciation are normally presented at the BVA National Convention's Father Carroll Memorial Luncheon which is generally held on the Friday of the Convention week.
4(b) During the January/February time period of each year, the BVA National Headquarters solicits nominations for BVA Certificates of Appreciation from the following agencies:
- Individual members of the Board of Directors;
- Executive Director;
- Director of Governmental Relations;
- National Field Service Director;
- Assistant National Field Service Director;
- Field Service Representatives;
- Regional Groups in good standing.
Nominations are due at BVA National Headquarters usually by not later than mid-April.
4(c) BVA National-level Certificates of Appreciation consist of a written citation printed on special paper and a calligraphied scroll, both of which are placed in a custom folding document binder with the BVA emblem silhouetted on the front.
4(d) The Executive Committee of the BVA National Board of Directors makes the final selections of the recipients of BVA Certificates of Appreciation based on recommendations from National Headquarters.
4(e) BVA members and their family members are not eligible for BVA National-level Certificates of Appreciation. No individual may receive more than one BVA National-level Certificate of Appreciation in their lifetime.
5. BVA Outstanding Service Award. The BVA Outstanding Service Award is presented by the BVA National Board of Directors, on an as-required basis, to individuals who have proved themselves outstanding during the course of their careers in helping the cause of blindness, in helping blinded persons generally, and/or in helping the cause of the Blinded Veterans Association. The award consists of a framed, calligraphied scroll.
6. Volunteer Awards (see Section 5 of Chapter IX-Regional Group Volunteer Program).
1. Since 1983, the Blinded Veterans Association has had a scholarship program for the purpose of assisting the educational goals of dependent children and spouses of blinded veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. Beginning in FY 2012 BVA established the Thomas H Miller Scholarship , which has a focus on fine arts.
2. The program, known as the Kathern F. Gruber Scholarship Program , is named after Ms. Kathern F. Gruber, a long-time advisor to the Association and its National Board of Directors who passed away on January 1, 1998. The scholarships are to be used to defray a student's cost of expenses payable directly to the school, to include tuition, books, and other academic fees.
3. The program known as the Thomas H Miller Scholarship was created in commemoration of his retirement following many years of dedicated work and leadership on behalf of the organization and his commitment in the support of service for the Blind.
B. Number and Amount of Scholarships
1. The number of scholarships and the amount of money allocated for the BVA Scholarship Funds for the coming year is established each year by the BVA National Board of Directors at its meeting held in conjunction with the annual BVA National Convention.
2. Currently, six Kathern F. Gruber scholarships, each for $2,000 and one Thomas H Miller Scholarship for $1,000. Each are awarded by the BVA National Board of Directors.
Currently, six scholarships-eight two thousand dollar ($2,000) scholarships and eight one thousand dollar ($1,000) scholarships-are being awarded by the BVA National Board of Directors.
1. The scholarships are open to the dependent children, and grandchildren and spouses of blinded veterans to include active duty blinded service members who served in the Armed Forces of the United States.
2. The veteran's blindness may be either service-connected or non-service-connected. The veteran is not required to be a member of the BVA.
D. Application Procedures
1. Applications which have been developed by the BVA Scholarship Committee are available through the BVA National Headquarters (Attn: Kathern F. Gruber and Thomas H. Miller Scholarship Programs).
2. Applications are normally due at the BVA National Headquarters by not later than mid-April of each year.
3. A Scholarship Committee consisting of three volunteers not normally associated with BVA reviews the scholarship applications and selects the winners on a "most-highly-qualified" basis utilizing the following criteria:
3a. Answers to the questions on the application form;
3b. Transcripts of high school and/or college records (and any other achievements of the applicant);
3c. Three letters of reference; and
3d. A three-hundred word essay on the applicant's post-education, lifetime, career goals and aspirations.
4. Kathern F. Gruber scholarships are awarded for one year only. In accordance with the BVA National Board of Directors' policy, the number of scholarships a recipient may receive under the Kathern F. Gruber Scholarship Program will be limited to four.