OPERATION PEER SUPPORT PROGRAM
TOGETHER WE CAN!
Operation Peer Support (OPS) is a program that was designed by the Blinded Veterans Association to support the hundreds of men and women that were returning to the United States blinded or experiencing significant visual impairment in connection with their service fighting the Global War on Terror, Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). However, over the years our program has widened its participation to all eras of visually impaired veterans. These events have significantly impacted many veterans’ lives by assisting them with accomplishing and overcoming challenges thru rehabilitation.
OPERATION PEER SUPPORT COMMITTEE
MONACA GILMORE, CHAIRMAN
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
2020 STEAMBOAT STARS SKIING, JANUARY 22-26, 2020
2020 TEAM RIVER RUNNER KEY LARGO KAYAKING CLINIC, FEBRUARY 2-8, 2020
2020 CONGRESSIONAL ADVOCACY & VISION RESEARCH CONFERENCES FEBRUARY/MARCH TBD
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT
MONACA GILMORE, OPS CHAIRMAN @ (252) 822-3486
PARTICIPANT OF THE MONTH Calvin Poole
Mr. Calvin Poole, President of Tennessee Regional Group, joined the U.S. Navy in 1976 and completed his enlistment in 1982 as part of the U.S Navy Construction Battalion, “The Fighting Sea Bees.” Selected as the Recruit Chief Petty Officer, Mr. Poole led his company to win the Brigade Award for the Most Outstanding Company. Currently, Mr. Poole is the President for the BVA’s Tennessee Regional Group where he is dedicated to getting blinded veterans and other citizens involved in adaptive sports and arts and crafts by partnerships with other nonprofit organizations. Some of the areas Mr. Poole assists the veterans consist of the following: North Mississippi, Eastern Arkansas, and West Tennessee. Mr. Poole credits the BVA for being instrumental in his personal and professional growth. Mr. Poole encourages Blinded Veterans to do the following: become members of the Blinded Veterans Association, remain active members in their local Regional Groups, and experience the BVA’s Operation Peer Support Program.
STORIES OF PAST EVENTS
2019 HEROES NEW HOPE DEER HUNT
To end the 2019 season of events for the Operation Peer Support Program, three of our blinded veteran members took part in a partnership event with the Heroes New Hope Foundation in Sullivan, Indiana. This deer hunting clinic allowed members Darryl Goldsmith, Zachary Tidwell, and Nate Harrison to learn effective deer hunting techniques along with vision loss. We are proud that all three members were able to succeed at hunting a deer and enjoyed the camaraderie of learning from one another as blinded veterans. Thanks HEROES NEW HOPE.
2019 MAJOR ROB SOLTES GOLF TOURNAMENT
Along with our National BVA President, Dr. Thomas Zampieri were BVA members Brian Harris and Adam Rowland to participate in this years Major Rob Soltes Golf Tournament. This annual fundraising event for the BVA’s Operation Peer Support Program gave these blinded veterans the opportunity to memorialize Major Rob Soltes optometry efforts for the veterans and to promote the awareness of the Blinded Veterans Association. With continuous support from BVA’s volunteer Tom Clark another successful year of funding was raised for the Operation Peer Support Program in order to further assist blinded veterans of the BVA.
2019 BAT II APPALACHIAN TRAIL MARCH
With major support from the U.S. Army Mountain Ranger Association members of the Blinded Veterans Association hiked over 80 miles of the North Carolina Appalachian Trail. BVA participants consisted of the following: Daniel Wallace, Lonnie Bedwell, and Ken Horn. During this event the veterans hiked over 12 miles a day, camped out overnight, and survived off rations of food similar to sustainment as an Army Ranger. Joe Amerling, BVA Honorary Member, along with BVA member Ken Horn established support and obtained sponsorship for this event. The participants accomplished the mission, impacted many veterans lives to keep striving through rehabilitation with vision loss, and brought awareness to the Blinded Veterans Association.
Four BVA members and sighted guide had the opportunity to collaborate with our BVUK veterans during Project Gemini Birmingham, AL. Participants for this event were Marlene Davis-Lilly, Raquel Welch, Adrian Mohammed, and Lonnie Bedwell. During this exchange program participants learned coping mechanisms from one dealing with vision loss, the resources for the visually impaired through Department of Veteran Affairs, and engaged in adaptive sports at the Lakeshore Foundation. Additionally, the veterans had the opportunity to tour local attractions such as the following: Birmingham Civil Rights Museum, Southern Museum of Flight, Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind, and Eyesight Foundation of Alabama/Callahan Eye Foundation at UAB. This event was fortunate to have many sponsors for meals and we were very appreciative for BVA’s Honorary Member, Joe Amerling, for obtaining a donation from the Southern Veterinarian Partners towards the Operation Peer Support Program.