The Blinded Veterans Association (BVA), the only Congressionally chartered Veterans Service Organization exclusively dedicated to promoting the welfare of the nation’s blinded veterans and their families, will commemorate 70 years of such service on March 28.
Veterans blinded during World War II established the Blinded Veterans Association at Avon Old Farms Army Convalescent Hospital just outside Avon, Connecticut, on March 28, 1945. The founders of the new organization hoped to help newly blinded veterans adjust to life without sight and regain their confidence and independence through education, rehabilitation, and camaraderie. Through BVA’s advocacy during its 70 years of service, blinded veterans enjoy unprecedented access to world-class Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) residential rehabilitation programs, technology, and the benefits and compensation that they have rightly earned as a result of their service.
Since 2010, the Association and its constituents and friends have referred to March 28 as Blind Veterans Day. The designation stems from House Joint Resolution 80 of the 111th Congress, authored by then Representative Debbie Halvorson of Illinois. The resolution, which acknowledged the Association’s humble beginnings and called upon all Americans to remember blinded veterans on March 28 in future years, was also passed by the Senate on March 18, 2010 and signed by President Barack Obama on April 7 of that same year.
All BVA members share a common bond as legally blind veterans. As members, they resolve to assist others in understanding and receiving the rightful benefits they earned by virtue of their service and to learn how to live and work independently. BVA also represents the interests of all legally blind veterans before the legislative and executive branches of government and encourages them to participate in VA rehabilitation programs.
BVA’s Field Service Program provides emotional support and counsel to blinded and visually impaired veterans. It also links them with VA benefits and serves as an advocate for them in the VA claims process. Eligibility for assistance is not dependent on service-connected blindness. Loss of sight may result from macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, or other conditions of the eyes.
Recent VA research estimates that there are now approximately 132,000 legally blind veterans in the United States. BVA seeks to locate the more than half of these men and women not yet identified or enrolled in VA Health Care programs.
There is no charge for any BVA service and membership is not a prerequisite for assistance. For further information, call BVA at 800-669-7079 or visit the BVA website at www.bva.org.