BVA Awarded Grant from Delta Gamma for Veterans to Attend Blind Rehab

BVA is very pleased to announce that the Delta Gamma Foundation has chosen to award a grant of funds for veterans’ travel expenses to VA Blind Rehab Centers. Veterans who have lost sight later in life due to diseases such as diabetic retinopathy or macular degeneration often struggle to afford travel to one of the VA regional Blind Rehab Centers. BVA firmly believes that attending Blind Rehab is an important step in empowering blinded veterans to overcome the challenges posed by vision loss.

The grant will allow BVA to assist veterans with limited means and non-service-connected blindness to travel to their regional Blind Rehab Center or VA Medical Center to receive training, resources, and technology that will assist them in living with sight loss. As with all BVA programs, this travel assistance is available to any blinded veterans in need, regardless of whether they are BVA members or not. If you are or know of a veteran in need of travel funds for attending Blind Rehab, please contact BVA at 1-800-669-7079 or email bva@bva.org.

BVA is very grateful to the Delta Gamma Foundation for supporting this vital program, which will allow us to help more veterans than ever before!

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New BVA Webpage Planned

The Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) National Headquarters has announced the upcoming redesign and launch of its organizational website, www.bva.org.

According to Executive Director Al Avina, the redesigned site will provide current BVA members and Affiliates with the tools to make their online experience both productive and enjoyable.

“The new site will offer previously unavailable resources, tools and other sources of information,” he said. “It will also allow our constituents to efficiently update records, register for events, and gain access to the assistance they may be seeking for themselves or other veterans who have experienced vision loss.”

Launch of the newly redesigned bva.org is projected for Autumn 2014.

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Happy Volunteer Week!

A message from Ed Eckroth, the Director of our Field Service Program and volunteer coordinator:

“I want to start by saying THANK YOU to all our volunteers.  Your hard work and dedication is what makes BVA great.  We want everyone to know how greatly they are  appreciated.  Please thank yourself and all volunteers we meet this week for doing such a great job.

Please do not forget the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) is currently soliciting nominees for the 2014 David L. Schnair Award, to honor and to recognize outstanding contributions of volunteers. BVA established this award in 1994 in memory and in honor of David L. Schnair, a BVA Board Member and BVA Volunteer for nearly five decades.  David L. Schnair was one of the earlier members of the Blinded Veterans Association; he was BVA’s Director of District I for many years and was an outstanding volunteer.

Nominations should be mailed to the attention of the National Field Service Director at the BVA National Headquarters, 477 H Street, North West, Washington, DC 20001, and must be received by Monday, April 21, 2014, to be considered.  Get those nominations in right away, and have a great Volunteer Week!”

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BVA Celebrates Anniversary on March 28th

Friday, March 28, 2014, will be the 69th anniversary of BVA’s founding in 1945 by a group of war-blinded World War II veterans. The first meetings were held in Avon Old Farms, CT, at a school that had been converted to a war-time hospital for wounded soldiers. At the time, there was no organization that served solely the needs of blinded veterans, and to this day BVA remains the only veterans group specifically dedicated to serving them. The group grew quickly, and received a Congressional Charter to advocate for blinded veterans in 1958.

The building that housed a World War II army convalescence hospital in Avon Old Farms, CT

The building that housed a World War II army convalescence hospital in Avon Old Farms, CT

Since our founding, BVA has worked closely with the Department of Veterans Affairs at all levels to make sure the needs of blinded veterans are met. On an individual level, BVA’s Field Service Program has served veterans by assisting them in filing VA claims and accessing the benefits which they have earned. Field Service Officers also assist veterans in finding support groups, attending adaptive sporting events, and finding employment. On a national level, BVA works closely with both Congressional and VA leadership to advocate for blinded and visually impaired veterans. One of BVA’s signature accomplishments was the creation of the VA Blind Rehab Centers, of which there are now thirteen, as well as the creation of Vision Impairment Service Team and Blind Rehab Outpatient Specialist staff positions. More recently, BVA was instrumental in the creation of the Vision Center of Excellence, which studies vision trauma and works to ensure a seamless transition for veterans from the Department of Defense to the VA health care systems.

BVA Staff celebrate our anniversary

BVA Staff celebrate our anniversary at our Washington, DC headquarters

To mark the occasion, BVA staff and members gathered to enjoy pizza and cake at our headquarters in Washington, DC. Next year, 2015, will be the 70th year of the organization.

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BVA National Headquarters Proclaims “Neftali Sanchez Day”

Through his example of faith and courage, longtime Blinded Veterans Association National Chaplain Neftali Sanchez has taught not only his fellow blinded veterans, but hundreds of fellow Americans, how to overcome adversity. He has exemplified the enjoyment of life to the fullest how to look forward to the future with brightness of hope and optimism.

Chaplain Sanchez served BVA as National Chaplain from 1979 until his retirement in 2011.

On March 22, 2014, BVA recognized Chaplain Sanchez through a proclamation by National President Mark Cornell declaring the day “Neftali Sanchez Day” in honor of his 80th birthday. The proclamation was sent to him at his Riverside, California home.

Chaplain Sanchez’s life changed abruptly on July 11, 1953 in Korea when he was just 19 years old. On patrol that day as an Army corporal, he was wounded by an exploding grenade that caused the loss of both of his eyes and both of his arms below the elbows. Instead of languishing in self-pity and despair, Chaplain Sanchez refused to abandon his hope in the future and the full life that he had envisioned for himself before his injury.

Whether improving his technical proficiencies and independent living skills in blind rehabilitation programs, studying for examinations on the way to both a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree at the University of Pepperdine, obtaining a second Bachelor’s Degree in theology from University College of Bible Studies, or contributing as a member of the BVA Board of Directors in the 1960s and serving as BVA’s spiritual leader for 32 years from 1979 to 2011, Chaplain Sanchez has been relentless in pursuing the personal goals that would best prepare him to give of himself and effectively serve others with compassion and empathy.

The explanation for the remarkable life of Chaplain Sanchez is undoubtedly rooted in the formation of his character at a young age, exemplified in a November 13, 1953 news article in the El Paso Herald Post. The article quotes Chaplain Sanchez’s mother, who had just visited him for the first time since his injuries. The place of that meeting was a hospital in San Antonio, Texas. “If Neftali was discouraged, he never showed it,” she said. “He seemed happy and full of plans for the future.”

Long time BVA Chaplain Neftali Sanchez speaking at a BVA Convention

Long time BVA Chaplain Neftali Sanchez speaking at a BVA Convention

Chaplain Sanchez attended 31 of the 32 BVA National Conventions during his chaplaincy. He served seven years longer than BVA legend Father Thomas J. Carroll, personally revered by Chaplain Sanchez and in whose honor he delivered luncheon addresses in 1979 and again 2001.

“NOW THEREFORE, I, MARK CORNELL, NATIONAL PRESIDENT OF THE BLINDED VETERANS ASSOCIATION, by virtue of the authority vested in me through the election by the duly elected delegates at the BVA 68th National Convention on August 23, 2013, do hereby proclaim March 22, 2014 as CHAPLAIN NEFTALI SANCHEZ DAY throughout the Blinded Veterans Association in honor of his eightieth birthday,” the proclamation read.

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Devoted BVA Volunteers Offer Service to Veterans

The Blinded Veterans Association has been newly designated as a voting member of the National Advisory Council of the Department of Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service (VAVS) program. VAVS Representatives and Deputy Representatives working with BVA volunteers in their local VA facilities and within VAVS committees help develop programs and support blinded veterans at local VA Medical Centers and Outpatient Clinics.

According to Ed Eckroth, BVA Field Service Program Director, the distinction is a result of the VAVS Representatives and Deputy Representatives leadership, whom helped donate more than 41,000 hours to the VAVS program during BVA’s recent Fiscal Year 2013.  “BVA National Headquarters expresses thanks to all of its volunteers,” said Ed.

BVA’s Volunteer National Service Officers (VNSOs), he further explained, donate more than 20 hours per week at VA facilities as they provide claims assistance to blinded veterans.  “VNSOs are a great asset to both the Field Service Program and regional groups as they provide direct support to Regional groups.”

In addition to VA’s recognition of BVA as an organization that provides service opportunities resulting in quality assistance to fellow veterans, BVA in turn recognizes annually an individual volunteer whose recent efforts stand out above the rest. The David L. Schnair Award, typically presented at the national convention, is named after a revered BVA member, volunteer, and national leader on the organization’s Board of Directors whose volunteer spirit and service spanned five decades.

Carl Hytinen Receives Schnair Award at 2013 Convention

Carl Hytinen Receives Schnair Award at 2013 Convention

Honoring David L. Schnair’s legacy, BVA currently seeks nominees for the 2014 award. The recognition may be given to a BVA volunteer office, a BVA member, or a BVA Auxiliary member working in a BVA volunteer office. Candidates should have provided at least one year of consistent and outstanding service as BVA volunteers and have a solid understanding of the VA system. They should be an asset to the volunteer office and blinded veterans. Volunteers should also be involved in community activities, including the representing of BVA as spokespersons.

For an office or individual to receive the award, the maintaining of good regional group and volunteer service affiliation is extremely important. Consistency in submitting monthly reports is also essential. Activities conducted at the VA Medical Center, regional office, or within the community should also be taken under consideration.

Chiefs of Volunteer Services, District Directors, regional group presidents, Field Service Officers, and VIST Coordinators may make the nominations by writing letters of recommendation, specifically outlining the efforts taken and/or services provided to blinded veterans.  These letters should be submitted to the National Field Service Director for review but consultation will also occur with the appropriate regional group president and National Field Service Officer prior to submission to the panel for final selection.
Letters should be received at BVA National Headquarters, 477 H Street NW, Washington, DC 20001, by Monday, April 21, 2014, to be considered.

To learn more about the aforementioned awards programs, please visit http://bva.org/volunteer.html. Members wishing to become volunteers should email Edward Eckroth at eeckroth@bva.org or call 202-371-8881 and ask for the Field Service Department.

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Annual Hearing Offers Forum For BVA Legislative Priorities

Blinded veterans and spinal cord-injured veterans who are currently ineligible for travel benefits under a stipulation in the U.S. Code must pay for their own transportation to and from one of the 13 residential Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Blind Rehabilitation Centers (BRCs), BVA National President told Congressional Members and Staff of the Committees on Veterans Affairs.

Participating March 6 on a panel of nine representatives of Veterans Service Organizations, Mark urged passage of beneficiary travel legislation, H.R. 1284 and S. 633. He testified that hundreds of low-income veterans are precluded from much-needed independent living skills training because they cannot drive themselves and cannot afford the travel expenses associated with reaching a BRC.

“It makes little sense to have these outstanding blind rehabilitation services, world class in quality, when so many veterans cannot take advantage of them without financial assistance,” he said.

Representative Phil Roe (R-TN-1) welcomes Mark Cornell to Veterans Service Organization hearing. Mark testified before House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Members,  Staff, and a standing room only crowd behind him.

Representative Phil Roe (R-TN-1) welcomes Mark Cornell to Veterans Service Organization hearing. Mark testified before House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Members, Staff, and a standing room only crowd behind him.

Mark’s oral testimony, based on a more detailed written document submitted for the Congressional Record, also addressed overall funding of VA programs for blinded veterans, adequate staffing of the joint Department of Defense-VA Vision Center of Excellence, funding for combat eye injury research, and technology accessibility issues associated with VA compliance with Section 508 of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

He emphasized the importance of timelines and fulfillment of promises inherent in the implementation of legislation already passed. He said that timelines are not always created and promises not always kept.

Left to right, Representative Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8), Mark Cornell, and Glenn Minney. Prior to her election to Congress in 2012, Duckworth served as VA Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs (2009-12). A disabled Iraq War veteran, Duckworth is a longtime advocate for veterans and their issues, having also served as the Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs from 2006 until 2009.

Left to right, Representative Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8), Mark Cornell, and Glenn Minney. Prior to her election to Congress in 2012, Duckworth served as VA Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs (2009-12). A disabled Iraq War veteran, Duckworth is a longtime advocate for veterans and their issues, having also served as the Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs from 2006 until 2009.

“We appreciate, for example, the fact that both of these Committees have requested VA briefings and required updates on the status of its efforts to comply with 508 access requirements,” he said. “This lack of accessibility problem, however, has still not been fixed within the Veterans Health Administration and the Veterans Benefits Administration as some 184 Information Technology barriers came to light in 2012 testing.”

The testimony is an annual event typically held in late winter and made possible by BVA’s Congressional charter established in 1958. The charter designates the Blinded Veterans Association as the exclusive representative of blinded veterans before Congress.

Joining Mark at the witness table were National Presidents, National Commanders, and Government Relations leaders from the National Guard Association of the United States, the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs, Vietnam Veterans of America, Jewish War Veterans of the USA, AMVETS, Military Order of the Purple Heart, The Retired Enlisted Association, and the Military Officers Association of America.

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VA Seeks Greater Efficiency in Claims and Benefits Processing

The VA is working to make applying for benefits an easier and faster process through an initiative known as eBenefits. Although paper documentation will still be accepted, electronic submissions will result in quicker and more efficient responses for both veterans and the services officers who represent them.

It is becoming more important for veterans to obtain an eBenefits account, which allows them to submit their own claims or work with a Veterans Service Organization that can submit claims and all needed evidence electronically on their behalf. BVA’s Field Service Officers can work with veterans on their claims in this way. The claims are dated from the time they are submitted. This eliminates “lost in the mail” problems. Once submitted, veterans can check on their claim or appeal status easily without waiting on the phone for hours to talk with someone via the VA toll free number.

Veterans with computer access can secure an eBenefits account by visiting the following website: https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits-portal/ebenefits.portal Veterans without computer access may apply for an account by calling toll free 1-800-827-1000.

There are two levels of access: Level 1 and Level 2. The basic access, or Level 1, allows veterans to access only the information they have provided.  Level 2 allows them to access VA and DoD records, obtain a copy of their military records such as the DD-214, apply for claims, and check the status of such claims.  Education benefits and insurance information are also linked into the eBenefits system along with applying for changes in direct deposit and requesting Certificates of Eligibility for VA loans.  An abundance of informational topics can also be accessed and researched.

The Veterans Benefits Administration and Veterans Health Administration have joined forces to train staff within the VA Medical Centers to better assist veterans as they apply for Level 1 and 2 eBenefits and secure their personal “My HealtheVet” accounts.

Please speak with the “My HealtheVet” staff at your facility to become enrolled with eBenefits.  BVA recommends enrollment for all veterans. We also recommend that our blinded veterans speak with a Computer Access Training instructor at the nearest Blind Rehabilitation Center to express interest in being trained to use eBenefits.

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BVA Mourns Loss of Stalwart Member and Advocate

Buddy Brown Spivey, longtime active supporter and member of the Blinded Veterans Association, passed away January 9, 2014 in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

His obituary was published in the January 13 edition of the Arkansas Online newspaper.

In 1973, Field Service Representative for the Midwestern Region Buddy Spivey, second from left; National Field Service Director Dr. Dennis R. Wyant, far left; Western Representative Robert Utley; and Northeastern Representative Don Garner. Photo courtesy of Dr. Dennis Wyant, Gainesville, Florida.

In 1973, Field Service Representative for the Midwestern Region Buddy Spivey, second from left; National Field Service Director Dr. Dennis R. Wyant, far left; Western Representative Robert Utley; and Northeastern Representative Don Garner. Photo courtesy of Dr. Dennis Wyant, Gainesville, Florida.

Born December 31, 1941 in Washington D.C., Buddy was considered a true American hero by all who knew him, including a wide circle of friends within the national BVA organization, the regional groups to which he belonged, and the countless blinded veterans he counseled and assisted as a BVA Field Service Representative during 1973-83. He became the first blinded veteran to serve as an Assistant State Director for Veterans Employment in Arkansas. For his distinguished professional accomplishments he was awarded BVA’s highest honor, the Melvin J. Maas Award for Professional Achievement, in 1989.

When asked how he was doing, Buddy always responded with an emphatic “OUT-STANDING!” His life story and character were remarkable. As a member of the United States Marine Corps, he was severely injured by an explosion in Vietnam on December 7, 1967. Most of his unit originally believed he had died that day.

He spent 18 months in the Philadelphia Naval Hospital. Although he was totally blind, lost his right leg, and suffered brain damage, he never lost his spirit and lived a full and fun-filled life after his injury.

Buddy earned two Purple Hearts and retired from the Marines at the rank of Captain.

After years of physical and blind rehabilitation, he returned to his beloved Alma Mater, the University of Arkansas, where he earned a Master’s Degree in Counseling (1971) and an Education Specialist Degree (1972).

Buddy worked a full career until he retired in 2007 as a VIST Coordinator at the Little Rock VA Medical Center. He served as a BVA Field Service Representative for ten years, traveling alone across 14 states counseling and helping other blinded veterans. He later worked as a counseling psychologist and social worker at the VA Hospital in Little Rock. Buddy rarely missed a day of work.

He was also an active member of the Disabled American Veterans Association.

Buddy was the DAV “Outstanding Disabled Veteran of the Year” in 1975. The award was presented to him by President Gerald R. Ford in the Oval Office and at the DAV National Convention in Hawaii. He received the DAV Department of Arkansas Achievement Award the same year.

In 1976, he received the Tau Kappa Epsilon National Achievement Award. He received the “No Greater Love Award” for Vietnam Veterans presented by Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt in 1977. He was an Outstanding Young Men of America honoree in 1981. He also served as a board member for the State of Arkansas Division of Services for the Blind from 1975 to 2006.

Buddy was a gifted artist and musician. He was one of the all-time great Razorback fans. He loved telling people that he played in two Cotton Bowls and two Sugar Bowls during his time at the University of Arkansas. Most times (but not always) he would later admit that he actually played as a member of the Razorback Marching Band, which he affectionately referred to as, the “Stumbling 100.” He was a talented saxophone player.

Buddy loved being a part of something bigger than himself, whether it was the marching band, the Marine Corps, the Disabled American Veterans Association, the Blinded Veterans Association or even the Edsel Owner’s Club. He was also a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon, the American Legion, the First Marine Division, the Third Marine Division, the Marine Corps League, the Retired Officers Association, the National Order of Trench Rats, the Arkansas BVA Razorbacks Regional Group, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, and the First United Methodist Church in North Little Rock.

Buddy’s obituary recounts that as a person he was truly larger than life. He was the biggest personality in the room, regardless of his company. People were drawn to him–not only because of his personal story, but because of the way he told stories, and because of the way he loved and listened to others. He always wanted to know about other people and to hear their stories. He remembered every detail from them.

He knew “everything (pronounced by him EV-ry-thing) about tomato pie!!” from his days in Philadelphia, where his father, Joseph Spivey, worked as an FBI agent. Buddy danced on American Bandstand as a teenager. He loved cars and knew all about them. He collected hundreds of model cars. He lived in big cities like Washington D.C., Cleveland, and Philadelphia growing up, but he spent considerable time visiting in Arkansas, where his grandparents lived, and then made the Razorback state his permanent home.

Buddy attended the University of Arkansas and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Commercial Art prior to his military service. His artistic talents were broad. He painted remarkable portraits, landscapes, and abstracts. He also excelled at technical and commercial drawings. He loved designing cars. After graduation, instead of designing cars, he volunteered for the United States Marine Corps. As much as anything else, Buddy was a Marine.

Buddy was an immaculate dresser. He wore his suit and tie to work long after the rest of the world had moved to business casual. He was at times a flashy dresser. He loved bright colors with lots of flare. He enjoyed standing out from the crowd–as if he needed any help doing so.

He was a Methodist and devout Christian. He prayed for others all day, every day. He always told his friends and family how much he loved them and how proud he was of them. Buddy had unlimited compassion for others but never felt sorry for himself.

Buddy is survived by his wife, Jeanne Spivey; his son and daughter-in-law, Patrick and Elizabeth Spivey of Little Rock; his step-daughter, who Buddy thought of as a daughter, and son-in-law, respectively Michelle and Andrew Nichols of Oceanside, California; two grandchildren, Audrey and Adeline Spivey of Little Rock; his uncle, Calvin Spivey of Rogers, Arkansas; his aunt, Adeline Spivey of Rogers; and numerous cousins, all of whom Buddy loved dearly.

Funeral services for Buddy Spivey were scheduled for January 17, 2014, at the First United Methodist Church in North Little Rock at 11:00 a.m. Visitation was to be held at Griffin Leggett – Rest Hills in Sherwood Thursday, January16, 2014 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. He will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made in Buddy’s honor to the Blinded Veterans Association, 477 H Street, Northwest Washington, DC 20001-2694 (www.bva.org); or the Marine Corps League Foundation at P.O. Box 3070, Merrifield, Virginia 22116-3070 (www.mclfoundation.org). See obituary and tributes at http://glhr.tributes.com/our_obituaries/Buddy-Spivey-97751021.

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Glenn Minney Named to BVA Government Relations Post

Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) Executive Director Al Avina has announced the appointment of Glenn Minney as the organization’s Director of Government Relations.

In his new role, effective January 6, Minney serves as BVA’s primary legislative liaison between blinded veterans nationally and the U.S. Congress. He will prepare legislative testimony, produce correspondence to elected representatives and senators, direct the Association’s research on legislative issues affecting blinded veterans, and represent BVA in advocating for blinded veterans at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Central Office. He will also participate in legislative policy development and analysis at BVA national conventions.

“Glenn brings to BVA a passionate desire to meaningfully serve his fellow veterans,” Avina said. “His many years of military service, coupled with the vast knowledge and skills he acquired during his employment with VA, make him a welcome addition to our headquarters staff and an effective representative of America’s blinded veterans.”

Glenn Minney, BVA's new Director of Government Relations

Glenn Minney, BVA’s new Director of Government Relations

Minney has most recently worked as a Patient Advocate and Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom Program (OEF/OIF) Specialist at the Chillicothe, Ohio, VA Medical Center. In this position he advocated for veterans rights and helped veterans secure the medical care and educational benefits they earned as a result of their service. He retired from the VA system after 20 years of service in several capacities.

A graduate of Adena High School in Frankfort, Ohio, Minney entered Naval Boot Camp at Great Lakes, Illinois, just months after his graduation. He attended Hospital Corps School in Great Lakes and the Naval School of Pharmacy in Portsmouth, Virginia. He was later assigned to the Naval Hospital in Newport, Rhode Island.

Minney served 21 years in the Navy on both Active and Reserve Duty. During his tenure, he attended the Cold Weather Mountain Survival School in Bridgeport, California; Navy Basic Dive School in Panama City, Florida; and the Israeli Counter Terrorism School in Israel.

Operations in which he was assigned include Operation Just Cause in Panama, Operation Desert Storm and Desert Shield in the Persian Gulf, and most recently Operation Iraqi Freedom. While serving with the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment’s Lima Company of Columbus, Ohio, he was assigned as Battalion Senior Corpsman in Haditha, Iraq.

A mortar explosion at the top of Haditha Dam on April 18, 2005 just 28 days before his planned retirement resulted in being sent by medevac to Germany, where he underwent five eye surgeries. The injuries left him totally blind in his right eye with severely limited vision in the left eye due to lattice and macular degeneration. The impact of the explosion also caused severe Traumatic Brain Injury with a loss of 25 percent of his optical lobe and parietal lobe.

“Working with and advocating for individual veterans one at a time at the VA Medical Center was very rewarding, but I believe that I can now as Director of Government Relations help a greater number of veterans at the same time,” Minney said. “This position has the potential to be 100 times more rewarding due to the new challenges set before me.”

Following his recovery, Minney was a participant in BVA’s Operation Peer Support initiative. He first became acquainted with the Association and its mission while attending the BVA 62nd National Convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 2007. His activities at the convention included a tandem skydive.

At BVA’s invitation, he also presented oral testimony on a number of occasions before the House and Senate Committees on Veterans Affairs, emphasizing the link between Traumatic Brain Injury and vision loss among OEF and OIF veterans and service members.

Minney is the recipient of the following military awards and honors: Purple Heart, Navy Commendation with “V”, Combat Action, Sea Service, Over Seas Service, Navy Unit Commendation, Marine Unit Commendation, Presidential Unit Commendation, FMF Ribbon, Iraqi Campaign, GWOT, Kuwait Liberation, Good Conduct, Expert Pistol and Rifle, and Fleet Marine Force Warfare Breast insignia.

He is a life member of BVA, American Legion Post 4, Disabled American Veterans Post 18, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 104, AMVETS Post 4, and the Masonic Lodge 309 of Frankfort, Ohio. He is the father of two daughters currently enrolled in college.

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