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BVA Board of Directors
National President Sam Huhn, Pennsylvania Regional Group, is a native of the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area and current resides in nearby Elkins Park. Sam served in the Marine Corps beginning in 1961 and was honorably discharged in 1967 as a Sergeant E-5. His principal work was in the area of Naval Aviation Supply.
Sam worked for the General Electric Company’s Aerospace Group in one capacity or another from 1957 until 1990. His various positions included Quality Property Control Inspector, Production Control Specialist, Management Specialist, Engineering Specialist, and Project Manager. He received his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 1973.
Sam was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa in the early 1960s but did not become legally blind until several years later. He has dedicated much of his time since the early 1990s to serving disabled veterans, acting as a volunteer National Service Officer, President of the BVA Pennsylvania Regional Group, and a BVA District Director. He is a life member of the Marine Corps League, Disabled American Veterans, and AMVETS. He has also served on the Board of Directors of the Montgomery County Association for the Blind and has been active in the Delaware Valley Council of the Blind.
Sam is active in several sports and fitness service organizations and has received awards for his work with the Middle Atlantic Blind Golf Association and his participation in the annual National Blinded Veterans TEE Tournament.
National Vice President Mark Cornell, South Texas Regional Group, was born in Buffalo New York, and served for 18 years in the United States Air Force. He is a recipient of the Bronze Star and Air Medal, performing during his service such duties as Air Force Security Police Specialist, Audio-Visual Production Specialist, Combat Aerial Photographer.
While still on active duty and attending Syracuse University to pursue a career in electronic journalism, Mark lost his much of sight as a result of a rare reaction to Lyme’s Disease caused by a tick bite that went unnoticed.
Mark has logged thousands of hours in the BVA volunteer office at the Audie L. Murphy VA Medical Center, where he also represents BVA on both the Volunteer Services Committee and on the VA Hospital Directors Service Program. He is active in the local Low Vision Club. Mark was first elected as a District Director in 1999 and has also served as both President and Secretary of his regional group.
National Secretary The Reverend Robert “Dale” Stamper was part of a unit assigned in early 1968 to replace a bridge that had been destroyed by the North Vietnamese. As he scouted the area, he tripped a landmine. The explosion knocked out Dale’s right eye immediately. A small piece of shrapnel severely infected his left eye, which later had to be removed. Although the MASH unit to which he was transported saved his life, he also suffered multiple broken bones and required several surgeries.
A native of Turlock, California, Dale enlisted in the Army immediately after high school at age 18 and underwent basic training at Ford Ord in Monterey. He also completed three months of advanced training in engineering at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Dale had already received orders to report to Stuttgart, Germany, in the spring of 1967 when he was told that his plans had been changed. He would now be going to Vietnam instead.
Dale’s military honors include the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device 1960, and Marksman (Rifle M-14). Following his recovery, he completed VA Vocational Rehabilitation and one year at San Jose State University. He transferred to Fresno State University, where he began a degree in psychology, and then to the Evangelical Christian College in Fresno, where he earned a B.A. in theology with an emphasis on counseling.
Dale is presently a pastor at a large church in Rathdrum, Idaho. His duties include preaching, teaching, counseling, and making hospital visits with the assistance of a secretary. He also volunteers as a mentor to many clergy who seek him out regularly for his wisdom and ability to guide others. Although he writes his notes in Braille for his own use, Dale also spends several hours a day on a computer so that he can forward Bible study sessions, notes taken at special meetings, and Sunday sermons to the sighted members of his congregation. He is now using his third computer system, having become proficient with JAWS.
Prior to his current pastoral position, Dale served as a minister for more than 30 years in small and large churches in less populated areas. He was a missionary in the Philippines during 1994-96. Regarding his blindness, Dale expresses the following: “I forget that I am blind and then also make others forget. Then they are surprised if I have to ask for help.”
Treasurer Roy Young, Greater Houston Regional Group, made BVA history in 2008 as the first blinded veteran ever to receive both the Major General Melvin J. Maas Award for Professional Achievement and the Irving Diener Award in the same year. The latter award is presented to the blinded veteran who has most selflessly served his BVA regional group.
A Vietnam veteran, Roy was nominated for both awards for his dedication in helping others during the past 12 years.
Enlisting in the U.S. Army at age 17, Roy was discharged four years later for diabetes due to toxic chemical exposure after having reached the rank of Sergeant E-5. Following discharge, he worked in restaurant management and soon after started his own construction company, where he remained self-employed for 17 years. During those same years, he became a successful race car driver in both Modified and Sprint cars, competing in races throughout the southeastern United States.
Complications from advanced stages of glaucoma caused Roy to lose vision in his left eye in 1994. Just one year later, his diabetes worsened to the extent that he lost sight in his right eye, motivating him to seek help through VA blind rehabilitation and membership in BVA.
Roy has attended the Southwestern Blind Rehabilitation Center in Tucson three times—once for basic training, once for computer training in Zoom text, and a third time for additional training in JAWS software. He has worked closely with fellow BVA volunteers and VIST personnel in locating previously unreachable blinded veterans.
Roy has served most recently as president of the Greater Houston Regional Group, where he spearheaded outreach programs that featured exhibits, Gumbo cook-offs, Lions Club turkey shoots, motorcycle rallies, auto races, NASCAR rides, picnics, gifts from local professional sports teams, parade participation, mammoth Christmas parties, advocacy efforts to bring a VISOR program to Houston, extensive interaction dealing with the local news media, and a special focus on service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Director of District 1 David VanLoan, Connecticut Regional Group, is a Vietnam era veteran of the U.S. Army, having enlisted in December 1966 and undergoing basic training at Fort Gordon, Georgia. He was honorably discharged from duty in December of the following year because of a rapidly progressing case of Retinitis Pigmentosa.
David worked as a maintenance mechanic at Delta Rubber Company from June 1969 through September 1973. He held similar responsibilities at Helikon, Inc. of Traftville, Connecticut, and Griswold Rubber Company of Moosup, Connecticut, until 1988, when loss of vision forced him into retirement.
David learned about BVA in the spring of 2003. Shortly thereafter, he completed the VA residential rehabilitation course and Computer Access Training at the Eastern Blind Rehabilitation Center (EBRC) at West Haven. Since then, he has served stints as both Secretary/Treasurer and President of the Connecticut Regional Group. In July 2007 he was elected Vice President of the East Blind Rehabilitation Center Alumni Association.
In addition to his duties with BVA, David has worked as a volunteer on political campaigns, as a member of the Noise Ordinance Committee for the Town of Plainfield, as a cub scout and boy scout leader, as a little league sports coach, and most recently as a volunteer for the Visual Impairment Services Team at the West Haven VA Medical Center.
Director of District 2 Freddie Edwards, Indiana Regional Group, was born in Mississippi but raised in Florida. Following high school, Freddie moved to Indiana and began training to become a surgical technician. In the middle of his training on day in 1969, he was handed a message from a co-worker that his aunt had received a letter on his behalf from the draft board.
Knowing very little of the different military branches but aware enough to be certain that he did not wish to be drafted into the Army, Freddie walked into a Marine Corps recruiting office the following March. Three days later he was on a Boeing 707 on his way to boot camp via the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California. After completing boot camp, he was sent to Camp Pendleton, California, for basic infantry training and then on to training in his Military Occupational Specialty as an auto mechanic.
Freddie served a tour of duty in Vietnam shortly thereafter. Other duty stations included the Marine Corps Air Station in El Toro, California; Okinawa, Japan; Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; and back to the Recruit Depot in San Diego, where he was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa and honorably discharged from the Corps in 1977 as an E6 (Staff Sergeant). He then returned to Indianapolis, securing a job as supervisor of the Indianapolis Public School automotive repair center. The work included the supervision of repairs for 400 school buses, 92 trucks of various sizes and classifications, 31 staff cars, and a variety of lawn and garden equipment. In 1992, he was forced to leave the position due to the deterioration of this sight.
Finding it difficult to keep himself busy at home, Freddie welcomed a call from the Visual Impairment Services Team (VIST) Coordinator at the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis, Indiana. The contact eventually resulted in his involvement in the hospital’s volunteer program as a member of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Voluntary Services (VAVS) Committee and its executive board. He also joined the Visual Impairment Services Team (VIST) and was admitted to the Central Blind Rehabilitation Center’s (Hines) regular training program in 1994.
Freddie is the recipient of BVA’s David L. Schnair Award (1996), the President’s Volunteer Service Award, Outstanding Volunteer of the Year from the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired, and the VAVS Dedicated Service Award. In 1997, he opened the BVA volunteer office in Indianapolis and became its first office manager. Soon thereafter he began a free coffee program and computer support group. He most recently advocated successfully for a new VIST Coordinator position at the Northern Indiana VA Medical Center in Fort Wayne and served on the panel that interviewed candidates.
Always active in his regional group, Freddie is the current secretary and is also a past president and vice president. He also services on the Indiana State Board of Directors for the American Council of the Blind. He is a member of the Marine Corps League, Disabled American Veterans, AMVETS, and the City of Indianapolis Veterans Day Council.
Director of District 3 Joe J. Parker U.S. Navy, Ret., a native of Transylvania County, North Carolina, and a current resident of the city of Pisgah Forest, was elected July 20, 2010 as Director of District 3. The action became official at Joe’s swearing-in at the BVA 65th National Convention August 28 in Arlington, Virginia.
Joe represents blinded veterans residing along the eastern seaboard from New Jersey to South Carolina.
Joe became legally blind in 1998 as a result of an acute exposure to Agent Orange as a Chief Construction Electrician in the northern regions of South Vietnam decades earlier. The exposure affected his pancreas and developed into diabetes and diabetic retinopathy. He served two combat tours in Vietnam during the 1960s.
Retiring from the Navy in 1989 as a Chief Petty Officer after 30 years of service, Joe also worked as a civil servant for 12 years for the Department of Labor. He retired from DOL as a GS-12.
“My fear is that other veterans will suffer the catastrophic total loss of their sight as I have,” he has said. “I have dedicated myself to other veterans and to blinded veterans in particular in the hope that my blindness will not be in vain—that I can prevent others from suffering the pitfalls that I have suffered and help them retain or regain their independence.”
Joe’s family first settled in Transylvania County in the late 1700s along the headwaters of the French Broad River. He attended school first in Brevard, North Carolina, and then in Rosman. He enlisted in the Navy in 1959.
Prior to his election as a BVA District Director, Joe served the organization locally as Treasurer of the North Carolina Regional Group. He also founded the Western Chapter of the group and established a volunteer office for BVA at the Asheville VA Medical Center. He is also an active, contributing member of The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and the Fleet Reserve Association, having participated in the planning of parades, the production of patriotic ceremonies, and performance of honor guard details at funerals of Transylvania County veterans.
Joe is a past Senior Vice Commander of Post 4309 of VFW and a past 1st Vice Commander of Brevard’s Post 88 of The American Legion. He is an active public speaker promoting the use of guide dogs, a past member of the Pisgah Forest Lions Club and Lion of the Year in 2005-06, a past member of the local historical museum’s Board of Directors, a current member of Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks Lodge, and a member of the local Moose lodge.
Director of District 4 Robert Mower, Washington Regional Group, was born in Ashton, Idaho, in 1933. He moved to Pocatello during the early years of World War II.
After high school, at the age of 17, Robert enlisted in the United States Air Force. After serving for more than 22 years, he retired in 1973 as a Senior Master Sergeant. His assignments around the world included 27 months in Japan as an Aircrew Member and Crew Chief on C-119 Flying Boxcars. He also supported combat personnel airdrops and cargo flights throughout Korea.
Robert later served two tours in Southeast Asia and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and Army and Air Force Commendation Medals four times during his military service. While on active duty, he completed two years of engineering studies, some of which occurred at the University of Hawaii.
Following his military service, Robert was employed by the U.S. Postal Service in Tacoma, Washington, where his many assignments included Mail Handler, Letter Carrier, and a Plant Maintenance Manager in Tacoma, Washington. He was promoted to Maintenance Officer at the Western Regional Headquarters in San Bruno, California. He became a Program Manager for Facility Maintenance for 11 western states that included Alaska and Hawaii.
Employed also by Founders Mutual Funds as a licensed securities salesman, Robert was the top salesman for two years. After retirement, he did consulting work for the next six years.
Wet Macular Degeneration was the source of Robert's sight loss and subsequent legal blindness in 2003. He attended the American Lake VA Blind Rehabilitation Center in Tacoma and has been an active volunteer at the facility during the past seven years, logging thousands of hours in support of blinded veterans.
Robert has served as President of the Washington Regional Group for the past seven years.
Director of District 5 Dr. George Stocking, Florida Regional Group, is a service-connected blinded veteran of the U.S. Air Force, losing his vision as a result of burns suffered in a mid-air collision while serving as a jet-flying instructor in the 1950s. In ten years of reconstructive plastic surgery, he underwent more than 100 operations.
George has served on the BVA Board of Directors for more than 31 years, including terms as National President and National Vice President during 1977-81. He received the Melvin J. Maas Award for Professional Achievement in 1969.
Before all of his surgeries were even completed, George entered a vocational rehabilitation program, where he was assigned as a darkroom technician. He was afterward placed as a vocational counseling aide in Psychology Services at Coral Gables VA Medical Center, eventually leading to a masters degree in counseling in 1968 and a doctorate in 1970, both from the University of Miami. He has been a counseling psychologist at the Miami VA Medical Center ever since.
George is a past president of the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and the Florida Rehabilitation Association-Dade Chapter. He has also served on the Florida Council on Independent Living, the Advisory Council of the Florida Division of Blind Services, and the Advisory Committee of the WLRN Radio Reading Service.
Director of District 6 Ronald Anderson, Greater Houston Regional Group, was born and raised in the Houston area. In 1968, at the age of 19, Ronald enlisted in the Army. He was stationed in the Artillery Unit in Bamberg, Germany, and given an honorable discharge while at Fort Dix, New Jersey, in November 1969.
Following discharge, Ronald went to work on pipelines and in petrochemical plants in the Middle East with both Bechtel and Williams Brothers. He later worked on offshore projects for the same companies. In 1986, he went to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to work on the Alaskan Pipeline and pumping stations. When the latter job was completed, he attempted to work in the Antarctica but failed a required eye exam.
Ronald was declared legally blind in March 2000. He attended the Southwestern Blind Rehabilitation Center in Tucson shortly thereafter on three different occasions, the first time for independent living skills, the second for computer instruction, and the third for help with other electronic devices.
Ronald has been a volunteer at the Houston VA Medical Center for the past eight years, directing blinded veterans to their Field Service Representative in Region V. He has also volunteered in the VIST, VISOR, and BVA offices with a yearly average of 1,500 hours of service.
He also volunteers his time with the regional group, having served as secretary beginning in 2003 and later as vice president and now as president. Under his leadership, the Greater Houston Regional Group has won the Golden Gavel twice. It has also initiated a number of outreach programs and events through which Houston area blinded veterans have been located and better served with appointment assistance and information.
Examples of activities under Ronald's tutelage include offshore fishing trips, family picnics, racecar rides, and two first-place finishes in an annual Gumbo Cook-Off in League City, Texas. This year members of the regional group were recognized with a Braille flag presented by the Daughters of the American Revolution. The honor came as a result of the veterans' dedicated work, both for BVA and for their service in the U.S. Military.
Ronald has made service to other veterans the focus of his life. He enjoys talking and getting to know all who enter the volunteer office for help of any kind. He attends the BVA national conventions annually to learn more about the organization as well as about assistive technological products on the market. He always looks forward, afterward, to passing on such knowledge to veterans and the general public.
Immediate Past National President Roy Kekahuna, Silver State Regional Group, was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. He is a combat-disabled Vietnam veteran of the U.S. Army, having enlisted in June 1957 as a Private E-1 and retiring as an officer 14 years later.
Roy worked for five years as a sales trainer for Sun Life of Canada and for 15 years as a Director of 11 divisions in the Morale Welfare & Recreation Directorate for different military installations of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and NATO. He later owned and presided over RWKK & Associates, a San Diego-based manufacturing representative specializing in government sales and contracting.
Roy has earned two bachelor’s degrees, two master’s degrees, and a Ph.D. in sports psychology. In addition to BVA, he is a life member of five other veterans service organizations and the Elks. He has served as a District Director since 2004 and is a former San Diego Regional Group Secretary and Treasurer. He has been an active VA Medical Center volunteer and a coach/advisor in youth sports and recreation programs.
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