In Remembrance

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					Cover Photo
        San Felipe de Neri Church, located on the north side of Albuquerque’s famed Old Town Plaza,
is the oldest surviving building in the city. The structure is a symbol of the rich architectural and
cultural traditions of New Mexico to be discovered by blinded veterans and their families attending the
62nd National Convention August 14-18. Photo courtesy of

In This Issue
Legislative Update
 by Tom Zampieri

President’s Page
 by Larry Belote

Old Southwest
Says “Bienvenida”
  by Christina Hitchcock

62nd Convention
Schedule of Events

Vital Reminders
For 62nd Meeting
   by Brigitte Jones

New Ideas, Perspective
Highlight K.C. Training

Around BVA

Auxiliary’s View
 by Joyce Thornton

Of Note

Letters to the Editor

In Remembrance

Final Thought
Legislative Update
by Tom Zampieri

Annual Testimony,
Paired Organ Bill

        Soon after our last Update we entered into still another stage of extremely hectic legislative
activity. The work began with our annual testimony, submitted in written format and delivered orally
by National President Belote on March 8 before a joint session of the House and Senate Committees
on Veterans Affairs.
        We then had great success with passage of H.R. 797, the Dr. James Allen Blinded Veterans
Equity Act of 2007. This bill passed a vote in the House Committee one week following our testimony
on Capitol Hill. Referred to as the Paired Organ Bill in my previous Updates, the legislation seeks to
define service-connected legal blindness for veterans who are blinded in one eye and later develop
blindness in the other nonservice-connected eye. The Veterans Benefits Administration’s new
definition of blindness would be 20/200 or less, compared with the current standard of 5/200.
        In a most unusual and ironic turn of events, H.R. 797 was sent to the House Floor as a stand-
alone piece of legislation on March 22. This occurred through the assistance and support of House
Chairman Bob Filner (D-CA-51). The bill was passed by a 414-0 margin in the 110th Congress after a
two-year struggle that included our inability to get even a hearing in the 109th session.
        In the three days leading up to the presentation of our testimony, the BVA Legislative
Committee (Neil Appleby, Dr. Norman Jones, Jr., and Dr. Roy Kekahuna) made the Paired Organ
legislation a priority. Together, we made key visits to members of the House of Representatives,
especially those on the Committee on Veterans Affairs. We specifically asked members for their
support after explaining the bill.
        Roy was able to meet and shake hands with Representative Tammy Baldwin (D-WI-2). He
thanked her for sponsoring the Paired Organ legislation and for persevering in efforts to get the bill
passed. These efforts were, in retrospect, very important. BVA sincerely appreciates Congresswoman
Baldwin’s support.
        Neil, Norman, Roy, and I also made several visits to Senate offices March 5-7. I believe that
these visits were also helpful to the Paired Organ legislation. Senate VA Chairman Daniel Akaka (D-
HI) introduced a similar bill, S. 1163, on April 19. A bipartisan group of Senators are co-sponsoring
Akaka’s bill: Veterans Affairs Committee members Sherrod Brown (D-OH), James Webb (D-VA),
and Johnny Isakson (R-GA). Co-sponsors outside the Committee are Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI)
and Chuck Hagel (R-NE).
        BVA greatly appreciates Senator Akaka’s original sponsorship of the bill. We are also grateful
for the bipartisan support of the co-sponsors. We look forward to a Senate hearing in the next month
and a possible vote in early June.

H.R. 1240

        Another exciting new bill, H.R. 1240, is the Vision Impairment Specialist Training Act
(VISTA). Introduced by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18), the legislation would authorize
the inclusion of Blind Instructors and Orientation & Mobility Instructors in the VA scholarship
        H.R. 1240 has 19 co-sponsors and has been referred to the VA Subcommittee on Economic
Opportunity. It seeks to attract new students from accredited programs to enter VA employment by
partially paying the loans of students who, in return, would work within the VA health care system for
at least three years.
         Public Law 104-262, the Eligibility Reform Act of 1996, already requires VA to maintain its
capacity to provide specialized rehabilitation services to disabled veterans. This requirement cannot be
met unless there are sufficient Blind Rehabilitation Outpatient Specialists (BROS). Since BVA was
successful last year in seeing through the passage of the bill authorizing VA to create 35 new BROS
positions, H.R. 1240 is now extremely important in providing an incentive for quality individuals to
occupy these positions. We are doing everything possible to provide Congress with more information
about the significance of this bill.

H.R. 697

        Congressman Thomas Reynolds (R-NY-26) has introduced H.R. 697, the ―Blind Veterans
Fairness Act.‖ The bill would remove the state annuity paid to blinded veterans in New York, New
Jersey, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania from Social Security offset. Being a tax issue, this bill was
referred to the House Ways and Means Committee and faces a difficult battle as it affects only the
small number of blinded veterans in those four states.
        Because members of Congress outside the aforementioned states do not have a direct interest,
moving this bill forward will be a tough challenge. There are, however, 30 co-sponsors. We appreciate
Congressman Reynolds’ efforts to exempt veterans from a state annuity being counted as additional
―taxed income‖ when the annuity is meant to be a gift by the states to help blinded veterans.

More Funding
for VA BRS

        Some of our strongest advocates in the previous session of the Senate attempted unsuccessfully
to secure and direct additional funding for VA blind rehabilitation programs. This same group
circulated a new 110th Congress ―Dear Colleague‖ letter on April 19. The letter, which contained 18
bipartisan signatures, called for $10 million in additional funds for VA Blind Rehabilitation Service
        Senator John Kerry (D-MA) was successful in adding Senate Budget Amendment 615 to the
FY 2008 budget bill. The amendment stated that support for the additional funds is a critical step in
implementing the full Continuum of Care of blind rehabilitation services in each VISN. This
amendment was accepted on the Senate floor. Kerry sent the aforementioned letter soon after. It
specifically requested that the Chairman of the Senate MILCOM/VA Appropriations Committee
include, in the FY 2008 budget, the $10 million to fund the full continuum of outpatient blind services.
        The War Supplemental being debated at press time also includes, if passed, another $10 million
for the remainder of FY 2007. As VA works on implementing the BROS bill and other outpatient blind
and low vision programs, this funding could prevent a number of unnecessary future delays.

A Constant
State of Flux

       Only recently has the media focused so intensely on health care for our returning service
personnel. Foremost were the stories on the conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
       Stemming from such publicity has been the creation of several VA and Department of Defense
commissions, task forces, and committees. Some members of Congress are already calling for changes
in the Seamless Transition of benefits, health care, and specialized programs. We will update you as
additional information becomes available.
        Because our Bulletin is published just four times annually, timely information is most easily
accessed through our Legislative Alerts, which I am now attempting to distribute on a weekly basis. If
you have still not registered to receive these Alerts, please do so immediately by sending an email to Include in the email your name, email address, postal address, and your
regional group affiliation.
        I look forward to providing even greater detail to our members, face-to-face or as a group, in

President’s Page
by Larry Belote

Significant Milestones

         Fellow blinded veterans, my term in office is winding down and I am amazed at how quickly
two years can pass.
         BVA has accomplished a great deal during these two years. I would like to recognize the
efforts of our own Legislative Director, Dr. Tom Zampieri. His relentless efforts made the new BROS
bill possible. Many new BROS will be added nationally to serve blind and visually impaired veterans
in their local communities.
         The BROS bill comes on the heels of the new VA Continuum of Care initiative, which ensures
the availability of vision rehabilitation services within every VISN and at every VA facility. The goal
is more flexibility and standardization of services in the early assistance to and rehabilitation of
visually impaired veterans long before they become legally blind.

Impact of Technology

        I read the results of a recent study demonstrating that the provision of low vision aids
significantly helps prevent depression in visually impaired individuals. The essence of the study’s
conclusion was that if clinicians provide the means to restore visual functioning so that a veteran can
get back into the mainstream of activities, the self-esteem and quality of life of the individual will
        Although the study was very well done, it was not rocket science. The conclusion was, in fact,
one of which BVA and every visually impaired veteran were already aware. Because of our now 62
years of work touching this very subject, BVA is as determined as ever to have a positive influence on
the future of the services available to blinded and visually impaired veterans.
        The capacity to minimize sight loss and restore function is increasing. Science is on the edge of
sight restoration and artificial enhancement of residual vision. There are also new scientific
breakthroughs on the horizon that only a short time ago would have been purely science fiction.
        While life may seem more complicated by the introduction of technology, there are more and
more accessible individual tools available to help the blind and visually impaired. A prime example is
the cellular telephone, not long ago a technological nightmare for blind and visually impaired users.
The advent of speech technology has enabled the cell phone to evolve into a valuable tool. I suspect
that Global Positioning System (GPS) devices, smart homes, and other upcoming technological
advances will, in the future, become user-friendly in much the same manner as has the cell phone.
Blinded Vets and
Future Change

         Who are the blinded and visually impaired veterans of the next decade? This is a difficult but
still important question. I will try to answer it from my own perspective.
         Fortunately, in the next 10 years, we will still have some World War II veterans with us.
America’s Greatest Generation consists of many tough individuals who are going to live well into their
90s and beyond. Accompanying advanced age will be health challenges for many World War II
veterans. This will require improved and increased services in local communities.
         The next ten years will also bring a sizeable increase in blinded veterans from the Vietnam era.
Some will be relatively healthy but will have lost their sight to an age-related disease. Others will be
very ill. Complications like diabetes will have taken a toll over the years on such individuals. They
may face critical health complications that will severely hamper their daily life.
         The war on terrorism now provides a new generation of combat veterans who have lost vision.
Many of them will also need and seek assistance throughout the next decade. For these men and
women, the future holds great promise despite the challenges they will face.
         The key word for the future is change. Organizations such as BVA, as well as blinded and
visually impaired veterans individually and the professionals in the field, must remain open and willing
to change. This is always easy to say but very difficult to do. In the face of change, some will tend to
fall back on the methods that are best known and proven but that originated in the past. Falling into this
trap is often the very obstacle to change that must be overcome.
         In promoting the need for changes in methodology and means of reaching goals, I do not deny
that there are general principles and values that must not change. A BVA value, for example, is that
low-vision and blinded veterans who are otherwise subject to depression and low self-esteem should
not miss a beat in going on with life in a productive manner if they are provided with the appropriate
tools in the appropriate settings. Such guiding values and principles, part of the BVA success story for
62 years, must never be abandoned.
         I am coming to the end of my BVA term as National President. I am also nearing my own
professional retirement in the next few years. The changes I have seen are truly amazing and the
potential for the future is mind-boggling. May we continue to adapt to the inevitability of change while
staying true to the enduring principles that have made us an effective advocate for blinded veterans
since 1945.

Old Southwest
Says “Bienvenida”
       Preparations are in high gear at BVA National Headquarters and among regional groups across
the country as blinded veterans and their families anticipate their late summer excursion to
Albuquerque, New Mexico, for the BVA 62nd National Convention August 14-18.

A Glance at
the Week
        In addition to the usual business meetings, meals, and social functions, convention attendees
should be enticed by a number of never-before-tried activities that, at press time, are nearly all
        The week kicks off in the late afternoon Monday, August 13, with the opening of the Exhibit
        An optional tour to Jamez Mountain Trail/Los Alamos/Chimayo follows early the next
morning, courtesy of extraordinary legwork accomplished by the New Mexico Regional Group. The
tour is designed for those wishing to see and experience more of New Mexico than simply
Albuquerque. For more information or to make arrangements to participate in the tour, convention
attendees may contract directly with Destination Southwest, a private agent, at 505-766-9068. More
information is also on the BVA website and included in the pre-registration package. Please keep
foremost in mind that participation will add at least one extra night to the stay in addition to the cost of
the day trip.
        The traditional National President’s Reception that same evening will feature introductions of a
variety of invited guests and dignitaries, accompanied by the usual assortment of finger foods and
        Wednesday morning brings the opening business session, highlighted this year by the presence
of the Santa Ana Pueblo Disabled Veterans Color Guard and an Eagle dance performance. VA
Secretary R. James Nicholson has agreed to present the keynote address for the convention
immediately following the flag ceremony and traditional dance.
        Guests and spouses not participating in the regularly scheduled official business meetings may
wish to check out a fun and informative Wednesday afternoon lecture by Joe Dan Lowry, curator of
the Albuquerque Turquoise Museum. The presentation promises to appeal to all ages and levels of
interest, covering the science and geology of turquoise, including tips and advice on how to buy the
precious gemstone. Turquoise has been prized for centuries as a medical wonder, ornament, and
religious symbol.
        An actual visit to the Turquoise Museum is scheduled as part of the Meet Albuquerque Tour
offered on Thursday. The tour also includes a stop at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, a city
landmark dedicated to the preservation and perpetuation of Pueblo Indian culture, history, and art.
        From the Cultural Center the tour heads for Old Town, the original center of Albuquerque
founded in 1706. Old Town includes the San Felipe de Neri Church and many historic buildings that
form an architectural record of the city’s unique past. The additional buildings located just off the
plaza in Old Town include the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, the New Mexico Museum of
Natural History, the National Atomic Museum, and the Turquoise Museum. Coaches will shuttle
convention attendees from Old Town to these four locations.
        From Thursday through Saturday, a Native American Arts and Crafts Fair will occur at Civic
Plaza, located across the street from the Hyatt Regency. The unique event has been arranged by the
New Mexico Regional Group and sponsored by the Santo Domingo Pueblo’s Disabled Native
American Veterans Organization in special recognition of the 62nd National Convention’s presence in
Albuquerque. The fair will consist of New Mexico’s finest traditional and contemporary Indian
turquoise and silver jewelry, necklaces, earrings, pottery, drums, and other crafts. Above all,
convention attendees will be granted the opportunity to personally meet and enjoy the extraordinary
talent of the artists and craftsmen of New Mexico’s pueblos and reservations.
        A busier than usual Friday morning BVA Forum will also be a highlight of the week. On hand
as the first speaker will be a representative of the Doheny Eye Institute of the University of Southern
California to address the latest in vision research and its applications, especially in the area of retinal
implants. The presentation is being arranged by Dr. Steven Ryan, president of both Doheny and the
National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research. Dr. Joe Maino, Chief of Optometry at the Kansas City
VA Medical Center, will then discuss advances in low-vision optometry, followed by a presentation by
Dr. Alston C. Lundgren, M.D. on what has become an innovative and revolutionary treatment for
Macular Degeneration.
        The annual Father Carroll Memorial Luncheon that afternoon will feature as guest speaker Bob
Woodruff of ABC News. Woodruff joined ABC in 1996 and was named co-anchor of the network’s
―World News Tonight‖ in December 2005. Less than two months later, Woodruff was in Iraq reporting
on the activities of U.S. and Iraqi security forces when he was seriously injured by a roadside bomb
that struck his vehicle near the city of Taji. He returned to ABC 13 months later with his first on-air
report, ―To Iraq and Back: Bob Woodruff Reports.‖ The hour-long documentary chronicled the
traumatic brain injury and painstaking recovery he and thousands of American service personnel have
experienced in Iraq and Afghanistan.
        District Caucuses follow the luncheon. A Friday evening Operation Peer Support Barbecue
honoring recently blinded OIF and OEF military personnel will round out the day’s activities.
        Following Saturday’s Closing Business Session and lunch, BVA members are encouraged to
attend both a Legislative Update given by Tom Zampieri and a Field Service Program Forum
moderated by Stephen Matthews. The two activities, normally scheduled on Friday morning, were
moved to Saturday afternoon to accommodate the Friday guests. The Awards Reception, Banquet,
Auxiliary Raffle Drawing, and National Headquarters Sweepstakes Drawing will occur, as is
customary, on Saturday evening.

Flight Reservations

         BVA recommends the following airline carriers to reach Albuquerque:
         AMERICAN AIRLINES: Nonstop service to Chicago and Dallas-Fort Worth with
connections to Albuquerque. A 5 percent discount is available on American Airlines one-world tickets
only. Please state Booking Code A2187AE when making reservations, which should be arranged more
than 30 days prior to departure. Call 800-433-1790 for information and reservations.
         FRONTIER AIRLINES: Nonstop service to Denver with connections to Albuquerque. The
Meeting Identification Number is 98VRXT to receive a 10 percent discount on all published round trip
tickets. Call for reservations at 800-908-9068 or go to
         NORTHWEST AIRLINES: Nonstop service to Minneapolis-St. Paul with connections to
Albuquerque. Northwest offers 5 percent off lowest published fares and 7 percent off lowest published
fare if ticket is purchased at least 30 days in advance of scheduled departure. Certain routes may
qualify for an even greater percentage discount. For reservations, call 800-328-1111. The Booking
Code is NMB4P.
         SOUTHWEST AIRLINES: No file number exists for Southwest. Although this carrier no
longer offers travel contracts for large groups, the rates are very competitive and discounts are
frequently available. At press time, Southwest offered a senior fare of $129 one way from any location
in the continental United States. Please call 800-435-9792 or 800-433-5368. Reservations can also be
made online at

Ground Transportation

        The Hyatt Regency is located 5.5 miles, or approximately 10 minutes, from the Albuquerque
International Airport (officially called Albuquerque International Sunport with airport code ABQ).
Although the hotel does not offer a complimentary shuttle, Sunport Shuttle is an inexpensive and
efficient mode of ground transportation. A ride to the Regency Hyatt costs $9.00 one way or $16.00
round trip on Sunport Shuttle.
        The Sunport Shuttle check-in counter is located inside the airport on the baggage claim level
across from Southwest Airlines’ Baggage Carousel 3. For more information, call 505-883-4966 or go
        A second option, still relatively inexpensive, is a service called Airport Shuttle. For more
information, call 505-765-1234.
        A one-way trip by taxi to the hotel will cost approximately $35.

Hyatt Regency

        The Hyatt Regency Albuquerque is the only four-diamond hotel in Albuquerque. The hotel is
conveniently located in the heart of downtown among a variety of restaurants, theaters, bars, and clubs.
Several unique retail shopping outlets and galleries are located nearby.
        Each guest room features basic amenities such as a coffee maker, iron and ironing board, in-
room movies, and voice mail, as well as standard high-speed Internet access and daily newspaper
delivery. The Hyatt has two dining facilities, McGrath’s and Bolo’s Salon.
        Reservations are secured by calling toll free Reservations 800-233-1234, or through the hotel
website, www.hyattregency/albuquerque. Individuals making reservations must remember to state
their affiliation with the Blinded Veterans Association in order to receive the negotiated $70.00 rate.
Participants are urged to reserve rooms as far in advance as possible with July 12, 2007 being the final
date to secure the convention rate.

Convention Pre-Registration

        The BVA Board of Directors has again determined that pre-registration packets should be sent
to each active member of the Association. The packets were mailed in mid-May. BVA members or
other individuals interested in attending the convention who did not yet receive a packet should call
me, Christina Hitchcock, at 800-669-7079.
        The pre-registration fee is $90 for adults and $55 for each child 12 years old and younger if the
registration form reaches BVA National Headquarters by Tuesday, July 31. After that date, the
respective fees become $100 and $65.
        Pre-registration includes completion of the form in the official convention packet. Mail the
form, along with a check, money order (payable to BVA National Convention), or credit card
information (Visa, MasterCard or Discover only) in the self-addressed envelope provided. You may
also visit the BVA website to download the registration package and additional registration forms.
        Pre-registered attendees may later discover that they cannot attend the convention. Such
individuals can receive a full refund if they notify BVA National Headquarters no later than noon on
July 31. The only exceptions to this policy will be medical emergencies.

Remember These Dates

        Thursday, July 12 – Deadline for receipt of hotel reservation form or phoning in reservations at
the Hyatt Regency Albuquerque Hotel.
        Tuesday, July 31 – Deadline for mailing pre-registration fees to BVA National Headquarters.
        Wednesday, August 1 – Deadline for cancellation of pre-registration in order to receive a full
Sculptor, BVA Member
Donates Valued Piece

         Michael Naranjo, world-renowned sculptor and a member of the New Mexico Regional Group,
has donated ―Freedom Eagle‖ to support the BVA 62nd National Convention. The sculpture will be
sold and the proceeds donated to activities of the convention that may not otherwise be possible.
         ―This is a donation with no strings attached,‖ said Michael, who is totally blind. ―I wish to
simply help out my fellow veterans and support this monumental occasion here in my home state.‖
         ―Freedom Eagle,‖ which measures 12.5 inches high, 11 inches wide, and seven inches in
diameter, is the second in a series of ten produced by the sculptor, who always retains for himself the
last in a series. The piece retails for $3,900.
         Michael, a former recipient of BVA’s Melvin J. Maas Award for Professional Achievement
(1972), was raised in Santa Clara Pueblo in northern New Mexico. He was drafted into the Army in
June 1967 and went to Vietnam shortly thereafter with the 9th Infantry Division. During an ambush in
the Mekong Delta in January 1968, he was wounded by a grenade explosion that left him totally blind.
         Following his discharge, Michael attended the Western Blind Rehabilitation Center in Palo
Alto. During his stay, he received tools for carving. Three months later, he was sculpting, holding his
first show in March 1969 at the Albuquerque VA Medical Center.
         A long series of honors and awards from government officials began in 1971 when Michael
served on the Board of the New Mexico State Arts Commission. He presented ―Dance of the Eagle‖ to
President Richard Nixon at the White House in 1973. He also received the New Mexico Governor’s
Award for Sculpture in 1976. In 1979 he received the Outstanding Vietnam Veteran Award from
President Jimmy Carter.
         The New Mexico Vietnam Veterans Association presented Michael with the Profiles in
Courage Award in 1982 while the American Indian Resources Institute honored him with its
Distinguished Achievement Award in 1990. In 1996, President Bill Clinton named him to the Board of
Trustees of the Institute of American Indian and Alaskan Native Cultures and Art Development.
         Michael creates his sculptures entirely by touch and experiences the art of others in the same
way. Many of his pieces have appeared on display at BVA national conventions, VA creative arts
festivals, a blinded veteran art exhibit held in Chicago, and at the 50th anniversary celebration of VA’s
Blind Rehabilitation Service at VA Central Office in 1998.
         The accompanying photo of Freedom Eagle was taken by Dan Barsotti and made available to
BVA courtesy of Michael and Laurie Naranjo.

Sweepstakes Update

        As of May 16, the sweepstakes total revenue stood at $17,285 and the total prize pool was
valued at approximately $7,500. After mailing expenses associated with distributing tickets, half of the
funds generated through the sweepstakes will be awarded as prizes and the other half will be used to
help finance the convention.
        Continue sending the tickets to BVA National Headquarters! The larger the donations, the
greater will be the value of the winnings to the four individuals whose tickets will be randomly
selected at the convention’s Awards Banquet. For additional tickets, contact Keleeba Scott at 800-669-
7079. The final deadline for returning the completed tickets is Tuesday, July 31.
                       BVA 62nd National Convention
                             Hyatt Regency Hotel
                           Albuquerque, New Mexico

                         Preliminary Schedule of Events
Date/Time                Event                                     Location

Monday, August 13
  8:30 am-5:00 pm        BVA Convention Office                     Boardroom East
  8:30 am-5:00 pm        Nurse’s Station                           Pavilion Office 2
  8:30 am-4:00 pm        BVA Registration                          2nd Floor Lobby
  8:30 am-11:30 am       Exhibitor Set Up                          Grand Pavilion IV
  8:30 am-5:00 pm        BVA Board of Directors Meeting            Enchantment A
  8:30 am-5:00 pm        BVA Field Service Meeting                 Sierra Vista (19th Floor)
  8:30 am-5:00 pm        BVA Auxiliary Auction Set up              Fiesta 1
 12:00 pm-5:00 pm        Exhibits Open                             Grand Pavilion IV
   5:00 pm-6:30 pm       Exhibitor Wine/Cheese Reception           Grand Pavilion IV
  All Week as Needed     Volunteer Desk                            Lobby

Tuesday, August 14
  8:00 am-5:00 pm        BVA Convention Office                     Boardroom East
  8:30 am-5:00 pm        BVA Registration                          2nd Floor Lobby
  8:30 am-5:00 pm        Nurse’s Station                           Pavilion Office 2
  8:30 am-12:00 pm       BVA Board of Directors Meeting            Enchantment A
  8:30 am-5:00 pm        BVA Field Service Meeting                 Sierra Vista (19th Floor)
  8:30 am-5:00 pm        BVA Auxiliary Silent Auction              Fiesta 1
  8:30 am-5:00 pm        Exhibits Open                             Grand Pavilion IV
  9:00 am-4:30 pm        Tour by Destination Southwest             Lobby
 10:00 am-12:00 pm       BVA Auxiliary Board Meeting               Fiesta 1
   3:30 pm-4:00 pm       BVA Rules Committee Meeting               Enchantment A
   4:00 pm-4:30 pm       BVA Credentials Meeting                   Enchantment A
   7:00 pm-9:00 pm       President’s Reception (BVA and VA)        Sendero Ballroom

Wednesday, August 15
  8:00 am-5:00 pm        BVA Convention Office                     Boardroom East
  8:30 am-5:00 pm        Nurse’s Station                           Pavilion Office 2
  8:30 am-4:00 pm        BVA Registration                          2nd Floor Lobby
  8:30 am-5:00 pm        Exhibits Hall                             Grand Pavilion IV
  8:30 am-11:45 am       BVA Opening Business Session              Sendero Ballroom
                                Keynote Speaker:
                                The Honorable R. James Nicholson
                                Business Meeting
   9:30 am-5:00 pm       BVA Auxiliary Meeting                     Fiesta 1
  12:00 pm-1:30 pm       Box Lunches (first come, first served)    Exhibit Hall
  1:00 pm-5:00 pm         BVA Field Service Meeting                    Sierra Vista (19th Floor)
  3:00 pm-5:00 pm         BVA Bylaws and Resolutions Meeting           Sendero Ballroom
  3:00 pm-5:00 pm         Lecture on Turquoise Museum                  Enchantment A
  5:00 pm-10:00 pm        Sandia Casino (shuttle)
  To Be Announced         Hospitality Suite                            To Be Announced

Thursday, August 16
  8:00 am-As Needed       BVA Registration/Information                 2nd Floor Lobby
  8:30 am-4:40 pm         BVA Day Trip                                 Downtown and Old Town
  To Be Announced         Hospitality Suite                            To Be Announced

Friday, August 17
   8:00 am-5:00 pm        BVA Registration/Information                  2nd Floor Lobby
   8:30 am-5:00 pm        Nurse’s Station                               Pavilion Office 2
   8:30 am-5:00 pm        Auxiliary Silent Auction and Pick-Up          Fiesta 1 and 2
   8:30 am-12:15 pm       BVA Forum                                     Grand Pavilion I
       8:30 am-9:45 am            Leadership Training
       9:45 am-10:00 am           Break
      10:00 am-10:45 am           Presentation I: The Latest in Vision Research
      10:45 am-11:30 am           Presentation II: Advances in Low vision Optometry
      11:30 am-12:15 pm           Presentation III: Innovative treatment of Macular Degeneration
  12:30 pm-2:00 pm        Father Carroll Luncheon                       Grand Pavilion IV
   2:30 pm-5:00 pm        BVA Field Service Meeting                     Sierra Vista (19th Floor)
   2:30 pm-5:00 pm        District Caucuses
                                  District 1                            Enchantment A
                                  District 2                            Enchantment B
                                  District 3                            Enchantment C
                                  District 4                            Enchantment D
                                  District 5                            Enchantment E
                                  District 6                            Enchantment F
  7:00 pm-9:00 pm                 BVA Barbecue                          Grand Pavilion IV

Saturday, August 18
   8:00 am-5:00 pm        BVA Convention Office                        Boardroom East
   8:30 am-1:00 pm        BVA Closing Business Meeting                 Grand Pavilion I
                                 Bylaws and Resolutions
                                 Updates on Future Conventions
   9:00 am-12:00 pm       Auxiliary General and Election Meeting       To Be Announced
  12:30 pm-2:00 pm        Post Board of Directors Meeting/Lunch        Sierra Vista (19th Floor)

  1:30 pm-2:30 pm         Field Service Officer Forum                  Grand Pavilion I-III
                            and Legislative Update
   6:00 pm-7:00 pm        Awards Reception                             Grand Pavilion Court
   7:00-10:00 pm          Awards Banquet                               Grand Pavilion IV-VI
  10:15 pm                Hospitality Suite                            To Be Announced
Vital Reminders
for 62nd Meeting
by Brigitte Jones

Official Notice

        Pursuant to the provisions of Section 3b of Article IX (National Convention) of the BVA
National Bylaws, all members of the Blinded Veterans Association in good standing are hereby
notified that the BVA 62nd National Convention will be held at the Hyatt Regency Albuquerque
Hotel, 330 Tijeras NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102, from Tuesday, August 14, through Saturday,
August 18, 2007.
        Periodic updates regarding the gathering will continue to be posted on the Convention page on
the BVA website.
        BVA members in good standing who wish to vote by proxy may request a form by writing or
calling the Administrative Director at BVA National Headquarters no later than 45 days before the
opening day of the 62nd National Convention. Because the convention’s opening day is August 14, the
deadline for requesting a proxy form is June 30, 2007.
        In compliance with Section 2c of Article IX, the proxy form must be completed and returned to
BVA National Headquarters (Attn: Administrative Director). To be considered valid, the envelope
containing the form must be postmarked no later than 21 days before the opening date of the
convention. The due date is therefore July 24, 2007.

Important Dates

       1. May 31 (no later than 75 days before convention) -- Latest date to mail pre-registration
          package and official convention notice from national headquarters.
       2. June 5 (no later than 70 days before convention) -- Latest date for national headquarters to
          mail ballots for regular elections of Directors of Districts 3 and 4.
       3. June 15 -- National headquarters mails annual financial report forms (three copies) to
          treasurers of regional groups.
       4. June 30 -- Ballots for regular elections of Directors of Districts 3 and 4 must be postmarked
          no later than midnight.
       5. June 30 (no later than 45 days before convention) -- Latest date to mail proposed bylaw
          amendments to members in good standing.
       6. July 5 (no later than 40 days before convention) -- Regional group meeting notices to elect
          convention delegates must be mailed to group members. A copy of the notice must also be
          mailed to national headquarters at the same time it is mailed to the membership.
       7. July 10 (35 days before convention) -- National headquarters counts election ballots for
          regular election of Director of Districts 3 and 4.
       8. July 24 (21 days before convention) -- Completed delegate credentials forms and proxy
          forms must be postmarked no later than midnight.
Good Standing

        Article XIV of the BVA National Bylaws outlines the criteria by which regional groups are
deemed in good standing for national conventions. Groups must accordingly accomplish the following:
        1. Meet at least once during the BVA fiscal year July 1-June 30 and submit a copy of the
minutes to national headquarters (Attn: Administrative Director) within 60 days of such meetings
(Section 13a).
        2. Submit an annual financial statement to the Administrative Director on forms provided for
that purpose no later than September 30 (three months following the end of Fiscal Year 2006).
        Regional group officers should review the status of their groups to ensure that the above
requirements have been met. Doing so will ensure that all BVA delegations will be appropriately
seated at the BVA 62nd National Convention.

Delegates, Alternates,
Credentials Forms

        Article XIV of the BVA National Bylaws specifies that all regional groups intending to send a
delegate to New Mexico must also hold a meeting to elect and instruct the individual.
        Groups must inform all of their members in good standing, in writing, of the date, time,
location, ad purpose of the meeting, which must be held no later than July 5, 2007. Notice of the
meeting must be distributed to the regional group members no less than 10 days before it is to be held.
        A copy of the notice must be forwarded to BVA National Headquarters (Attn: Administrative
Director) at the same time the notice is distributed to the members. Failure to do so will render the
group’s delegation unable to receive seating at the convention.
        A set of official BVA credentials forms, mailed in triplicate on pink paper to all regional group
officers on April 4, must also be completed in triplicate, dated correctly, signed by the regional group
president, and authenticated by the regional group secretary. One copy should be provided to the
elected delegate. A second copy must be mailed to BVA National Headquarters (Attn:
Administrative Director) and postmarked no later than 21 days before the opening of the national
convention (July 24, 2007). A third copy should be placed in the regional group files.
        Regional groups must also elect specific alternate delegates to the national convention at the
same meeting. It is a violation of the BVA National Bylaws to designate ―any other members attending
the national convention,‖ or words to that effect, in the space provided for the alternate delegate on the
official credentials form.
        Each regional group to be represented at the national convention should elect a representative
to the Bylaws and Resolutions Committee. The representative’s name should be placed in the
appropriate blank at the bottom of the second page of the credentials form.

New Ideas, Perspective
Highlight K.C. Training
        Looking to more effectively serve other blinded veterans and their families within their
respective regional groups, 26 BVA members with leadership potential convened in Kansas City April
19-21 for the annual spring Leadership Training Conference.
        ―It was a great honor to be here,‖ said Lee Martin, Indiana Regional Group. ―I enjoyed the
education and inspiration I have obtained from all present, and I am sure that I will now be a more
productive member and advocate for our organization.‖
        Several of the 26 blinded veteran trainees, most of which were from the host District (2), were
accompanied by their spouses. The total also included three veterans from Michigan (District 1).
National President Belote, Director of District 1 and Conference Chairman General Weeks, Director of
District 2 Bob Campbell, and Region IV Field Service Representative Bob Malak each gave
presentations regarding their areas and positions of responsibility. Also on hand as a presenter and
active participant for the full two days was Bob Damon, VIST Coordinator at the Ann Arbor,
Michigan, VA Medical Center.
        ―I was pleasantly surprised that I learned as much as I did,‖ said Ed Bergin, Nebraska Regional
Group. The question now is: How will I put the new ideas, principles, and perspectives into practice
and then make them part of my habits?‖
        As is customary, the conference began with an informal Thursday evening social hour.
Components the following two days included an historical overview of BVA, duties and
responsibilities of Field Service Representatives and their relationship to regional groups, BVA
national/regional public relations efforts, government relations, the VA VIST and BROS programs,
recruiting new members, bylaws, volunteer programs, fund raising, technology, and the function of
regional groups and their elected officers.
          ―The two days we spent together were very enlightening and informative,‖ said Russell
Slauson, President of the Iowa Regional Group. ―Although I’ve been shocked to learn that you can
have a big responsibility right away if you just open your mouth, I feel like I now have at least some of
the tools I need to help people right away.‖
        General Weeks wrapped up the sessions with his own impressions about leadership training,
especially as the concept relates to BVA and its regional groups.
        ―This is my 21st leadership training conference and I learn something new to help me in my
responsibilities each time we hold one,‖ he said. ―I probably gain more than anyone else from these.‖
        The next conference is scheduled for approximately the same dates in 2008. It will be hosted by
and within the geographic limits of District 3.

                           2007 Leadership Conference Attendees
Illinois Regional Group
Johnny Williams (Renee)                                 Michigan Regional Group
                                                        Harry Arquette
Indiana Regional Group                                  Scott Randolph
Freddie Edwards                                         Gilbert Sanchez
John McAllister
Lee Martin                                              Minnesota Regional Group
                                                        Eugene Evans (Joanne)
Iowa Regional Group
Charles Grammer                                         Nebraska Regional Group
Clyde Ray                                               Ed Bergin
Russell Slauson
                                                        Ohio Regional Group
Kansas Regional Group                                   David May
Roger Elliott (Miriam)                                  George Pyle
OKI Regional Group                                       BVA Board of Directors
Dave Fox (Carol)                                         Larry Belote
Charles Kuhnwald (Emily)                                 Bob Campbell
James Vallo                                              General Weeks

Oklahoma Regional Group                                  BVA National Staff
Bob Charlesworth (Betty)                                 Bob Malak
Bill Orr (Betty)                                         Stuart Nelson
Robert Woodard (Margret)
                                                         VA Blind Rehab Services
Wisconsin Regional Group                                 Bob Damon
Gary Traynor

Around BVA
Outreach Program
Making Inroads

         BVA’s initiative to reach out to service personnel blinded in Iraq and Afghanistan continues to
enjoy increased progress and momentum.
         According to Director of Government Relations Tom Zampieri, Operation Peer Support’s
mission to connect combat-blinded veterans of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam with newly blinded
veterans has been the subject of both media coverage and interest from organizations who wish to
support the program financially.
         ―The connections have occurred in a number of ways and settings, from conference calls and
visits at Walter Reed and Bethesda to actually hosting these brave Americans at our national
conventions,‖ said Tom.
         Seven veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and one from Operation Enduring Freedom
(Afghanistan) participated in the 61st National Convention last August. Tom hopes that the number
can be more than doubled in Albuquerque, a feat that appears more realistic than ever with financial
assistance already provided by Health Net Federal Services, Genentech, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer
Global Pharmaceuticals, the American Optometric Association, the American Academy of
Ophthalmology, and the Allergan Foundation.
         ―We are working feverishly to again raise funds from individuals, organizations, businesses,
and corporations to bring 16-20 individuals and a companion to our 62nd National Convention,‖ he
said. ―This is probably our next big step in taking Operation Peer Support to the next level.‖
         In addition to the connections that will naturally be formed as a result of their attendance, Tom
said that BVA is working to expand the range of activities available to the newly blinded military
         ―We hope to include speakers on employment opportunities, technology, and new medical
treatments for blindness and low vision.‖
         Operation Peer Support began in response to the physical and emotional isolation that often
occurs for those who have only recently lost their sight. The premise is that connecting with other
veterans, who are among the few who understand what they are truly going through, will help the new
veterans understand their options.
       DoD has reported that between March 2003 and April 2006, 16 percent of the wounded
personnel evacuated from Iraq experienced serious eye injuries. BVA is attempting to locate and offer
services to as many of them as possible. Regional groups or BVA members who become aware of such
individuals, or who know of any funding sources for Operation Peer Support, are encouraged to
contact Tom Zampieri at the Association’s National Headquarters.

BVA Seeks Applicants
for Northeastern Office

         Applications are sought from blinded veterans interested in the position of Field Service
Representative for Region I, which is based in Boston. BVA members are encouraged to apply and/or
make the opportunity known to qualified blinded veterans throughout the country.
         BVA Field Service Representatives provide a range of services to blinded veterans and their
families, including benefits counseling, representation as a National Service Officer, and referral to
VIST Coordinators and other VA service points. Field reps also monitor BVA volunteer office
activities, assist regional groups, and work to promote the Association’s national programs. They also
serve as role models for other blinded veterans. Some travel is required.
         Applicants must be veterans and at least legally blind. They must possess a B.S. or B.A. degree,
preferably in the social sciences, and have good mobility skills. They should also demonstrate superior
written and oral communication and interpersonal skills. Past experience or association with VA BRS
and VA in general is desirable.
         The position is a career opportunity with potential for advancement. BVA offers a salary
commensurate with education and work history, a benefits package, and opportunities for travel and
         For further information or to apply, please call Stephen Matthews, National Director of the
Field Service Program, at 202-371-8880 or 800-669-7079. Resumes may be mailed to BVA National
Headquarters, 477 H Street NW, Washington, DC 20001, or faxed to 202-371-8258.

Bob Gold Takes Over
Region 5 FSP Duties

        Region 5 has a new Field Service Representative replacing Peter Link, who retired on
December 31, 2006.
        Dr. Robert ―Bob‖ Gold served as a Captain in the Medical Service Corps of the U.S. Army
following basic training. Upon discharge from Walter Reed Army Medical Center, he worked as an
intern at the Industrial Home for the Blind, after which he accepted a position at the Albany Medical
College. He was Chief of the Low Vision Clinic and was appointed Associate Professor of
        Bob received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1967 and became a Doctor of Optometry in
1970. While at Albany Medical College, Bob was appointed to the staff of the Albany Association of
the Blind. In 1975 he was awarded a Diplomate in Low-Vision Rehabilitation and received a similar
Diplomate in the field of Contact Lenses in 1980.
        Bob has worked as a consultant to the New York State Commission for the Visually
Handicapped and was elected to the Board of Directors of both the Albany Association of the Blind
and the Glens Falls Association for the Blind.
        Bob has authored several articles in the field of low vision. He has also written a chapter on
low vision for the textbook, ―Age-Related Macular Degeneration.‖
         Ironically, in 1994, Bob was stricken himself with low-vision optic atrophy, which limited his
ability to read, write, and work. With low-vision aids and training, he once again takes care of his
partially sighted patients. In 2005 he was elected as a fellow of the International Academy of Low-
Vision Specialists.

BVA Member Hosts
“Veterans Forum”

        PJ Scott of the Washington Regional Group currently hosts and produces a half-hour monthly
television program entitled Veterans Forum. The program can now be seen and/or listened to via the
        ―This program has never finished lower than third among the most viewed local programs,‖
said PJ, who credits the large viewership to the three Navy bases and a larger-than-average veteran
population in the Seattle-Tacoma area.
        Veterans Forum in April featured 93-year-old Legionnaire Bill Davis speaking about his
father’s military exploits during the Spanish-American War, the Asiatic Fleet, and the Great White
Fleet of Teddy Roosevelt’s Administration. Joining Davis was Retired Navy Captain George Beida of
the Bremerton, Washington Naval Museum and Ed Rasmussen, Former Deputy Commander of the
Veterans of Foreign Wars.
        In honor of Mother’s Day, PJ will be interviewing two Navy women in May. She will feature
Mike Gregoire, the husband of Washington Governor Chris Gregoire, in June.
        PJ also hosts a quarterly program entitled ―Resources for the Blind‖ in which she interviews
representatives of organizations of and for the blind. Next up will be a representative of the Lions
Club. Last year she interviewed VIST Coordinator Walt Werkhoven.
        PJ lost much of her vision when she was exposed to radiation while in the Navy. She can still
see outlines of objects and must wear dark glasses during show tapings to protect her eyes from the
bright studio lights.
        For additional information about Veterans Forum and its broadcast schedule, go to

BVA, VA Volunteers
Make Huge Mark

        Hundreds of blinded veterans nationwide continue to make life better for fellow veterans
through dedicated, selfless acts of service.
        ―To me, it’s something I enjoy immensely because I know I am making things happen that
would not otherwise get done,‖ said Charlie Franklin Smith, President of the Rocky Mountain
Regional Group. For some 12 years Charlie has made regular visits to the blinded veterans in nursing
care on the ground floor of the Denver VA Medical Center.
        Charlie also attends a regular meeting of Field Service Officers with the medical center director
in which representatives of local veterans service organizations receive briefings on hospital events
and issues.
        ―In many cases, my visits to the hospitalized veterans, accompanied by my dog, Lizabeth, are
the only ones these wonderful people receive,‖ he said. ―The visits, sometimes very emotional but still
rewarding, are a way that I can give something back to those who have sacrificed for me and my
        Charlie, fellow regional group member Charlie Watson, and some 225 other volunteers were
recognized with pins and certificates for their service during 2006 at the medical center’s annual
volunteer awards luncheon. The event was held April 14 at Denver’s Park Hill Golf Course. Charlie
Watson has logged some 5,400 volunteer hours over a 15-year span. Charlie Smith has 1,650 hours
during the past 12 years.
        The two Charlies and their impressive hours of service are matched by other BVA members in
a number of regional groups across the country. They hold true to a clause contained in BVA’s 1958
Congressional charter in which members are directed to provide mutual aid and professional assistance
to each other, one individual at a time.
        The aforementioned Denver luncheon was held in conjunction with National Volunteer Week
April 15-21. More than 88,000 volunteers at VA medical facilities worked 12.5 million hours in 2006.
The VA Voluntary Service Program is the largest volunteer program in the government and one of the
largest in the country. VA estimates the time volunteered to VA equates to nearly $225 million

Ira Tiggs

        With a little help from loyal friends and family, dedicated BVA member and volunteer Ira
Tiggs, Illinois Regional Group, recently celebrated his 90th birthday in grand style.
        The March 4 gathering was attended by some 100 well-wishers. Organized by Ira’s Church of
God congregation and held inside the church’s annex, the program featured a tribute and certificate
presentation by Regional Group President Johnny Williams. It also consisted of six musical selections
and remarks by nine additional friends.
        Ira joined BVA in 1993 and has served as his regional group’s chaplain most of the time since.
        ―This was an especially important event for me personally because of the impact Ira has had on
my life and the lives of other BVA members,‖ said Johnny. ―He was at least one of the key people who
encouraged me to join BVA and then later to run for president of our group.‖
         In addition to his wife, Aletha, and all four daughters, BVA member Henry Solomon and
VIST Coordinator Sheila Sims (Chicago Health Care System West Side Division), were also on hand
to support Ira.
        The written program highlighted a favorite Ira Tiggs saying:
        If I can help somebody as I pass along,
        If I can cheer somebody with a word or song,
        If I can steer someone right who may be traveling wrong,
        Then my living will not be in vain.‖

Board Photos, Bios
Uploaded to Website

       Digital photographs and brief biographies of each of the 11 members of the BVA Board of
Directors were recently uploaded to the BVA national website. The addition is an opportunity for BVA
members who are not able to attend national conventions to become acquainted with those who
represent them as national officers and district directors.
       To read the biographies and view the photos, go to

Auxiliary’s View
by Joyce Thornton
        Summer is nearly upon us once again, the season that we always associate with our state
conventions and most certainly the national convention.
        We are once again seeking quality items to support our Auxiliary silent auction. It is critical
that we have a particularly successful silent auction in Albuquerque if we are going to continue
offering the same scholarship opportunities.
        This is a topic that will be foremost on our agenda in August. We will need suggestions from
everyone regarding ways we can continue this important program since funds could run out within
three years. Ideas, which can be directed to National President Dora Gabe, are also welcomed before
the convention. Dora can be reached in Tucson, Arizona, at 520-290-5624 or at
        The Auxiliary donations are generating funds for only three scholarships and cash donations
are lower than in previous years. Therefore, the National Auxiliary is tapping into reserve funds to pay
for scholarships. Although these are difficult times, to be sure, we will continue to do our best to fulfill
our scholarship program obligations.
        The National Auxiliary Board gratefully acknowledges an early donation of $500 from BVA’s
Mid-Atlantic Regional Group, which is presided over by Peter Davis. The group is also generously
donating $100 for the Auxiliary luncheon in Albuquerque.
         The Florida Regional Group of BVAA has had some success with its program to contact
lonely veterans. A phone call to someone living alone can mean so much. So many veterans sit alone
and the phone never rings. Loneliness can eat away at a person’s spirit. Auxiliary members could make
a difference with a friendly phone call inquiring about a veteran’s health and welfare. Won’t YOU help
make that difference?
        Some of our loyal Auxiliary members may have forgotten to renew their memberships and
make their payment of dues current. Article VIII of our national bylaws stipulates that memberships
are in effect July 1-June 30 each year and that dues of $10 should be paid before June 30.
        If you would like to renew a membership or join BVAA for the first time, please send your
dues to Membership Chair Ann Case, 4905 Round Rock Drive, El Paso, TX 79924-1110.
        I hope to see many of you, more than ever before, at the BVA 62nd National Convention. It is
always fun and exhilarating to meet everyone again.

Of Note
NCA Benefits
Often Unknown

        Veterans and their families may sometimes be unaware of the benefits available to them
through VA’s National Cemetery Administration (NCA), according to a newly designed brochure
circulated by VA in early 2007.
        The information clarifies that burial in a national cemetery is open to all members of the Armed
Forces and veterans who have met minimum active service duty requirements and been discharged
honorably. Their spouse, minor children, and, under certain conditions, dependent unmarried adult
children, are also eligible for burial, even if they predecease the veteran.
        Members of the reserve components of the Armed Forces who die while on active duty or
while performing training duty, or who have 20 years of service in reserve components of the Armed
Forces creditable for retired pay, may also be eligible for burial.
        Burial benefits include a gravesite in any of 140 national cemeteries with available space, the
opening and closing of the grave, a government headstone or marker, a burial flag, Presidential
Memorial Certificates, and perpetual care of the grave at no cost to the family.
        NCA is responsible for 124 of the 140 national cemeteries. The National Park Service
maintains 14 while the Department of the Army maintains two, including Arlington National
        National cemeteries date back to 1862 when Congress enacted legislation authorizing President
Lincoln to purchase cemetery grounds to be used as national cemeteries for those losing their lives in
service of the country. Fourteen cemeteries were established that first year.

Compensation Facilitated
by New Claim Form

        Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC), a Department of Defense benefit providing
dual compensation for eligible military retirees, has significantly revised its claim form. The revisions
have made it easier to understand who is eligible for the compensation and what information veterans
should provide on the form.
        CRSC helps 20-year military retirees by providing a monthly tax-free compensation (full
concurrent receipt option) that supplements VA disability and military retired payments. The retired
veteran must have a 10 percent or greater VA disability rating and must be able to prove that the
disability is combat-related—i.e., training that simulates war, hazardous duty, an instrumentality of
war, or armed conflict.
        Even with the improvements in the form, veterans may still have questions. An enhanced
website,, addresses some of the questions. Once at the site, users should click on
the link labeled ―Retired Veterans‖ to obtain information on eligibility criteria, the claims process, and
answers to frequently asked questions. Claim forms can also be downloaded.
        Veterans can also call the CRSC Service Center at 866-281-3254 or send an email to

Ceremony to Commemorate
Korean War Ending

        Government officials and representatives from more than 20 nations, accompanied by military
service organizations, veterans groups, and honor guards will gather July 27 at the Korean War
Memorial in Washington, DC. The occasion will mark the 54th anniversary of the armistice that ended
the Korean War.
        The general public is also welcome to attend the 10 a.m. formal ceremony, which will be
preceded by a musical program at 9. The commemorative tradition will continue with an afternoon
memorial service at Arlington National Cemetery.
        For information about accommodations, veterans and their families should contact Jack
Cloman at phone 410-676-1388, fax 410-670-3898, or email

Task Force Evaluates,
Recommends Actions

       A presidential task force reviewing federal benefits and processes for changes that could
quickly improve veterans’ access to services and programs has completed its study.
        According to VA Secretary Nicholson, chairman of the task force, a report listing 25
recommendations was submitted to President Bush on April 19.
        The task force brought together top officials from DoD, VA, Labor, Health and Human
Services, Housing and Urban Development, Education, the Office of Management and Budget, the
Small Business Administration, and the Office of Personnel Mangement. The focus of the group was
on improvements that could be made in individual departments or agencies using existing resources,
specifically targeting health care, benefits, employment, education, housing, and outreach activities.
        The task force report is available on VA’s website,, and includes a fact sheet.

AFB Launches
"Senior Site"

        The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) has created the first-ever proactive, virtual
vision center that encourages older adults to live independently and productively with sight loss.
        The center's webpage,, seeks to assist the some 6.5 million Americans
over age 65 who are currently experiencing age-related vision problems. Over the next two decades,
rates of vision loss from diseases like age-related macular degeneration are expected to double as the
nation's 78 million baby boomers reach retirement age.
        Senior Site focuses on common sense, daily living solutions to help seniors who are beginning
to experience vision loss better adjust to their changing eyesight. It contains inspiring video
testimonials, message boards, blogs, and support group links designed to foster a sense of community
among seniors with vision loss. It can also be of help to families of those losing their vision.

Free Directory

        Blinded veterans needing quick directory assistance may use a service that is entirely free of
charge. The number, 800-F-R-E-E-411 or 800-373-3411, allows free directory information from
almost any telephone.
        Simply follow the recorded prompts when calling. If the computerized service does not
understand the caller’s question, a live operator will enter the line.
        Beyond being free, the only other difference between this service and nationwide 411 is that a
short, pre-recorded ad message is placed on the call before the requested information is provided.
        The service is possible through the assistance of thousands of national and local sponsors.
Advertising and technology executives who had previously pioneered successful advertising solutions
in online media were the primary founders.
        A previous attempt to inform Bulletin readers of this service in the audiocassette version of the
Autumn 2005 issue was met with some confusion when the word ―F-R-E-E‖ in the aforementioned toll
free number was mistaken for the numeral 3.

Online Bookstore
Offers Braille

        Associated Services for the Blind & Visually Impaired (ASB) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
has announced the grand opening of an online Braille bookstore.
        The new service has resulted in worldwide access to a vast collection of Braille books,
including nine categories and more than 100 books ready for immediate sale. With updates each week,
the catalog should contain more than 300 books at any one time.
       The ASB Braille Bookstore currently houses classics such as Lord of the Flies, The Call of
the Wild, Cajun Cooking and several books from popular authors like Stephen King, Clive Clussler,
Dean Koontz, and Sandra Brown.
       For more information, go to

Author Donates All
Book Proceeds

        War fiction writer Trish Edmisten, concerned about the quality of care received by veterans
returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, is donating 100 percent of the royalties from her new book,
Letters from Linc, to the country’s military hospitals.
        ―I always hoped this book would make a difference in someone’s life, and I’ve finally found
the way to do that,‖ she said.
        Letters from Linc is a love story related through a series of deeply personal letters written by a
recently deployed Marine. When tragedy strikes within the story, the two protagonists must find out if
the foundation laid by their letters was sufficiently strong to salvage their marriage and their lives.
        For additional information, go to

Letters to the Editor
Gem RG Offers
White Cane Info

        The return of our servicemen and women who may have lost their sight in Iraq or Afghanistan
make it more important today than ever before to educate the public about vision rehabilitation
programs for veterans and all citizens.
        The Gem State Regional Group (Idaho) has expanded its traditional October 15 White Cane
Day Safety activities to include events at health fairs and retirement centers. The annual Wal-Mart
Community Health Fair in the city of Meridian, Idaho, is but one example of our outreach.
        In addition, the focus of our content in the past has been limited to the issues surrounding legal
blindness. More recently, however, we have become prepared to answer questions related to all forms
of visual impairment, questions about ongoing research, and inquiries regarding where to look for
support. We are also prepared to provide information about available low-vision devices and other
exciting technology.
        We urge all BVA regional groups to participate in White Cane Day activities in their
communities. Please feel free to contact me for information about our program at 208-362-2854 or at We must absolutely share as much information as possible about the issues affecting
blinded veterans. There are far too many people out there who are totally unaware of such issues.

                                                                     Art Motz
                                                                     Boise, ID
Serving Others
Makes Difference

        I am writing an open column to fellow vets, hoping they will be inspired to do something more
than hang around and complain.
        My wife, Nancy, and I live on the west coast of Florida, where we run a modest food pantry for
honorably discharged veterans. Some years ago we joined a hungry aid homeless coalition and decided
to try helping out a few folks who were in particular need of groceries. We currently service 19
families on an as-needed basis.
        It is a slow process to effectively let others know about our desire to help out. Trust is always
an issue, but we are working on earning it from everyone concerned. Our local Citrus County Veterans
Coalition is funding this program and funds are being accepted from anyone wishing to help keep the
program going.
        The children of downtrodden vets, who are often the working poor, are the particular victims. It
is a good feeling to be able to deliver a hundred or so pounds of food to those who truly need it. Yes,
the 104-mile round trip to the food bank is a bit of a sacrifice, but it is worth it.
        Other programs in this area, such as lawn mowing for the severely disabled, have also
flourished. We need more people to get off the sofa and start serving mankind! And, yes, I am totally
blind myself.

                                                                    Bill Geden
                                                                    Hernando, FL

In Remembrance
The Blinded Veterans Association deeply regrets the deaths of the following blinded veterans.

Alabama R.G.
James E. White

Central California R.G.
Herbert Davidson

Connecticut R.G.
Cicero H. Strider

Florida R.G.
Sam Bayliss
Ignatious Camarda
Dennis Keane
Ronald Knopf
Paul W. Lunger
Virginia Lux
Leonard Majewski
Carl Marinelli
Robert Rossley
Margaret Smith
Gary J. Sykes
George L. Turner
William A. Wells

Gem State R.G.
Alphons Boxleitner
James Manos

Georgia R.G.
Thomas E. Dixon
Charles A. Fiveash
Martin Schofield

Greater Houston R.G.
Charles Dudley
Lewis L. Harvey

Illinois R.G.
William J. Ipczynski

Indiana R.G.
Chester Carpenter
Daniel L. Unverzagt

Iowa R.G.
Kenneth D. Lanphier

Kansas R.G.
Lemoyne C. Hauck
James R. Piteri

Kentuckiana R.G.
James H. Pace

Louisiana R.G.
Lawrence B. Bethea
Charles Sepulvado

Massachusetts R.G.
Harry A. Arlen
Edward S. Bristol
Roland Gagnon, Sr.
LeRoy E. Gardner
Frank K. Hirons
Charles C. Mehegan
Alfred Salie
Michigan R.G.
Royal A. Thayer

Mid-Atlantic R.G.
Latimer Glowa
Daniel B. Holloway
Joseph W. Pratt
Robert P. Thompson
William M. Weinbach, Jr.

Missouri R.G.
Ralph L. Nelson
Donald A. Timme

Nebraska R.G.
Lawrence Patlan

New Hampshire R.G.
Bruce J. Horne

New Mexico R.G.
Wilbur Hartranft
Jim Hatfield
Harry Orr

New York R.G.
Edward Hayden
Carl C. Luman
Murray Spitzer
Irving Zorback

North Carolina R.G.
Carl Fred Barnish
Leroy Hutchenson

Northern Arizona R.G.
James M. Matise
John E. Williams, Jr.

Northern California R.G.
Jimmie L. Hardy
Ernest N. Rude

Ohio R.G.
Albert Gibat

O-K-I R.G.
Herald Doehlman
Pennsylvania R.G.
John R. Acker
William F. Close
Hugh Coyle
Gilbert Lopez
McKinley Owens
William Rhinehart
Harold S. Smith

RI/S.E. Mass. R.G.
Lionel Bouchard
Edward Hyres

Rocky Mountain R.G.
Virginia A. Garrison
Tomas R. Martinez
Fred Thomason

San Diego R.G.
Thomas John Byron

Southern California R.G.
Mary T. Terry

Washington R.G.
Clarence A. Hughes

Western Mountaineer R.G.
William F. Frazier

Wisconsin R.G.
John J. Olsem
G.J. Stevens

Final Thought
       There weren’t many breaks during a fast-paced week in early March in the Nation’s Capital.
Culminating with BVA’s oral testimony on Capitol Hill, road-weary members of the BVA Board of
Directors and Field Service staff also took on several days of business meetings and appointments.
       Thanks to the foresight of Administrative Director Brigitte Jones, a brief respite late Friday
afternoon recognized those celebrating birthdays during the first quarter of the year. Recipients of the
well wishes were, left to right, Bob Malak, General Weeks, Claudia Perry, Neil Appleby, and Steve

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