VA Central Blind Rehabilitation Center Director Jerry Schutter, right, presents Braille
American flags to Operation Peer Support participants Matthew Bradford, center, and Steve
Baskis during Mexican Fiesta hosted by American Legion Post 41 in Phoenix. The presentation
was one of several moving moments at the BVA 63rd National Convention August 12-16,
highlighted in this issue of the Bulletin.
In This Issue
by Tom Zampieri
by Norman Jones
BVA Mourns Loss
of Loyal Servants
Blinded Vets Bask
in Phoenix Warmth
by Stuart Nelson
Wealth of Resources
by Anne Yeadon and Maureen Duffy
by Joyce Thornton
by Tom Zampieri
The BVA legislative agenda was an extremely busy one in the late spring and into the summer
weeks leading up to the national convention, where I presented an overview of the status of several
pieces of important legislation to both our Board of Directors and in a special forum with our
Just two weeks prior to our convention, Tom Miller, Steve Beres, and I were able to promote
the work of BVA in presentations before some 800 professionals in the blindness field who were in
Chicago for the bi-annual convention of the Association for the Education and Rehabilitation for the
Blind and Visually Impaired. We made the presentations during a BVA-sponsored general session.
Steve, an Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF, Afghanistan) veteran and a BVA member now
employed by the National Industries for the Blind, received a standing ovation after relating his own
experiences in overcoming the challenges of blindness. Tom discussed BVA’s historical
accomplishments while I focused on our current advocacy efforts with Congress and the Department of
Veterans Affairs (VA).
Newly appointed Director of Blind Rehabilitation Service (BRS) Gale Watson also joined us
on the program. Gale focused on VA rehabilitation programs for blinded veterans in her presentation.
and Funding Issues
Several new pieces of legislation were passed in the second session of the 110th Congress as a
result of the Veterans Benefits Disability Commission (VDBC), the President’s Dole/Shalala Report,
and recommendations from Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs). Because of the growing backlog
of claims, the move to change the current Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) disability system
for service-connected ratings has, in and of itself, been a large part of the legislative agenda this year.
Another high priority addressed by VSOs this year has been the need for more timely VA
appropriations. This is a problem for which VA itself, the White House, and Congress all have
responsibility. We again face the fact that in mid-September Congress had not yet passed the Fiscal
Year 2009 Military Construction and Veterans Appropriations (MILCON/VA) bill. Just as in the past
17 years, it appears that VA will not have funding for the new fiscal year when it begins on October 1.
What this means is another Continuing Resolution (CR) or set of CRs, which in turn means that
VA must forge ahead for the first three or more months of the fiscal year with funding at the previous
levels, which may or may not meet the current demand for services.
Although the notion is certainly not a new one, we continue to emphasize that sufficient,
timely, and dependable funding each year for quality VA health care and benefits is critical to ensuring
its accessibility for all veterans. Through our membership in the Partnership for Veterans Health Care
Budget Reform, which includes the nine major Congressionally-chartered VSOs, BVA is at the
forefront of a movement toward advanced funding. Our membership adopted a resolution at the
convention in support of the movement.
This is an issue that should be of great concern to blinded veterans as more than 35 VA medical
centers have now received approval and centralized funding for a variety of basic, intermediate, and
advanced blind and low-vision programs. At the same time, approval has been granted for 11 more
full-time Visual Impairment Services Team (VIST) Coordinators and 20 new full-time Blind
Rehabilitation Outpatient Specialists (BROS) in the next year. Progress in getting these programs
implemented could be delayed significantly as VA waits for FY 2009 funding.
The current budget battle could also negatively affect construction projects associated with the
new Blind Rehabilitation Center (BRC) in Long Beach, California, and the new 25-bed center in
Biloxi, Mississippi, the latter of which has been designed with components of both inpatient and
“hoptel” outpatient programs.
New Rules for
On July 30, the House passed H.R. 6445. The legislation prohibits VA from requiring co-
payments for hospital or nursing home care of catastrophically disabled veterans. It was sponsored by
Representative Don Cazayoux (D-LA-6), a new member of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.
The bill also requires VA to implement a comprehensive policy on the management of pain
experienced by veterans, encourages HIV testing, requires the establishment of as many as seven
consolidated patient accounting centers for better VA fiscal responsibility, and expands VA’s authority
to provide counseling for family members of veterans receiving nonservice-connected treatment.
“There is a small population of veterans who suffer from nonservice-connected but
catastrophically disabling injuries,” said House VA Committee Chairman Bob Filner, (D-CA-51).
“Because of the nonservice-connected nature of their injuries, they are burdened to face co-payments,
which many are ill-equipped to pay.”
If passed in the Senate, the new law could affect a number of BVA members who are
nonservice-connected but who are faced with the need for inpatient care. Many such members who are
nonservice-connected are unable to afford to enroll in inpatient BRCs because of existing co-payment
by Norman Jones
It has been just a few days since Diane and I left beautiful, warm Phoenix and headed back to
the locale in which peaches, peach cobbler, and the best of pecans all awaited us. As I look back at the
convention and review my notes of the things that occurred, the things that meant the most to me were
the reunions with old friends and the opportunity to meet those who came for the first time. We now
have a host of new friends.
The voices of those who were there still ring loud in both of my ears. I trust that all enjoyed
safe return trips home. I prayed for you all and, in addition, sent up a word of hope to see you again
next year. Ready or not, Portland, here comes the Blinded Veterans Association.
At every convention there are highlights and lowlights. I prefer here to focus on the most
noteworthy highlight, at least from my vantage point. It came on Friday at the Father Carroll Luncheon
with the address of Retired Major General Gale Pollock, who reviewed the need for continued research
in the field of vision loss for the blind and visually impaired. Anything said or written on this subject is
always good news for me.
General Pollock commanded us to be vocal. She reminded me of the old adage that the squeaky
wheel gets the grease, which in turn reminded me also of a rather dated story that perhaps everyone has
heard but which fits the context of General Pollock’s remarks better than anything else.
There was once a family of parents and an only child, a son. The young man decided to join the
Army. From the letters he received from home, he read between the lines of the loneliness that was left
by his absence. He decided to visit the pet shop and there selected a bird to send home as company for
mom and dad. A few weeks later, he called to see what difference the bird’s arrival may have made. As
he spoke with his mom over the phone, he asked how the bird was doing.
“What bird?” she asked.
“The bird I sent you a few weeks ago,” he responded.
“Oh, yes, he was delicious,” his mother declared.
Nearly fainting, the young man asked her what she meant by the statement. His mother went on
to say that, upon arrival, the bird had been taken out to the backyard by his father, where the latter
chopped off the head of the bird, cleaned him up nicely, stuffed him with delectable dressing, and then
surrounded him with ripe fruits, potato salad, and a pot of mixed vegetables, and Hawaiian punch.
“It was quite a feast,” she continued. “I even made a pineapple upside down cake for dessert.”
Fainting for real the second time but then regaining consciousness, the young man said this:
“Mom, I paid $500 for that bird,” he said. It could speak five languages and carry on a
conversation in all of them.”
Strains of silence flooded the phone line, after which she replied.
“Why didn’t you say something about this before we received the bird?’
Fellow blinded veterans, we are like the young soldier when we refuse to say what we mean or
adequately explain what we need. When we visit our medical centers or regional offices, we must say
what we mean and mean what we say.
If you were unfortunately not at the convention to share General Pollock’s talk with me, at least
you now have a mental picture. Please prepare to join me and all of us next year. Until my next
writing, take care of yourselves. May God bless you and yours, and may God bless America.
Dr. Sidney Ordway
National Convention attendees reacted with surprise and sadness at the August 12 President’s
Reception announcement of the passing of BVA National Vice President Dr. Sidney Ordway in San
Antonio, Texas, just hours before.
Sid was a retired attorney with a remarkable history of honors and personal achievement in the
face of great disability and adversity.
Born in Des Moines, Iowa, Sid served three tours in Vietnam. He was a Major in the Delta
Forces of the Army’s prestigious Green Berets. During a firefight with hostile forces, he was shot in
the head. The injury caused total blindness, impaired hearing, loss of smell and taste, and an injury to
the brain. He received the Silver Star, three Bronze Stars, four Purple Hearts, a Combat Infantry
Badge, Airborne Wings, and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Gold Star.
Sid sought to overcome his sight loss through education, a decision that made him a model and
inspiration to fellow blinded veterans and sighted individuals alike. He first attended the Central Blind
Rehabilitation Center at Hines shortly after recovering from his injuries. In 1972 he received a B.A.
degree from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. A law degree in 1975 from the same institution was
next. In 1979 he received a Ph.D. in political science from UCLA.
Sid was honored for gallantry and community contributions by the city of Los Angeles in 1973.
He was the 1976 Texas Handicapped Person of the Year and received the Outstanding Veteran Award
for Texas in 1982. More recently, Sid served as President of the BVA South Texas Regional Group;
National Treasurer, Secretary, and Vice President; member of the Audie L. Murphy Visual Impairment
Services Team Advisory Group; member of the Regional Advisory Committee of the Texas
Commission for the Blind; advisor to the Low-Vision Club of San Antonio; member of the local transit
board; and member of the Ethics Committee for the Bexar County Sheriff’s Department. At the 2003
convention in Myrtle Beach, he received BVA’s highest honor, the Melvin J. Maas Award for
Sid was preceded in death by only a few months by his wife, Hannelore. He is survived by two
sons, Roland and Terry Ordway; his daughter Andrea Rand and son-in-law Ricky; and four
granddaughters and two grandsons. Funeral services were held August 20 at Sunset Funeral Home
Chapel in San Antonio.
Known among BVA ranks as Director of District 1, leadership training guru, and a true
gentleman of the finest manners, General J. Weeks passed away August 28 near his home in Dedham,
General Weeks became a member of the BVA Board of Directors in 1994 and held that
position until just prior to his passing. In addition to instituting the popular leadership training program
for regional group officers, General served on a variety of national committees during his tenure. He
was past president and treasurer of the Massachusetts Regional Group.
Born in Floyd, Virginia, and a resident of Dedham for more than 45 years, General was a
Korean War era veteran of the United States Navy. He was a graduate of both the regular rehab
program and the CATS program at the Eastern Blind Rehabilitation Center at West Haven. Prior to his
blindness, he worked as a fleet maintenance supervisor for the Coca-Cola Company.
In addition to his duties with BVA, General also served on the board of directors for the
Massachusetts Affiliate of the Foundation Fighting Blindness, the governing board of directors of
Boston Aid to the Blind, the Dedham Disability Commission, the district advisory board for the
Massachusetts Commission for the Blind and the board of directors for St. Luke's Lutheran Church. He
was also a member of the American Legion Post 18 in Dedham. General was also a little league
baseball and football coach.
General is preceded in death by a daughter, Julie. He is survived by his wife, Sheila, of 52
years; sons Donald, Robert, and William; his daughter, Mary E. Czyras; and three grandchildren. He
will also be missed by his guide dog, Brady.
Funeral services were held September 3 at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Dedham. Mary
McManus, a dear friend of General and Sheila and his former VIST Coordinator at the Boston VA
Medical Center, penned and then offered the following tribute at the funeral:
The day that I first met you,
some 20 years ago
I thought you were a general
"That's my name," you'd let me know.
I was a worker at the VA,
and you were “newly blind”
And with every challenge you would face
Great courage you would find.
You were a champion at bowling,
though the pins you couldn't see
And a champion for veterans
BVA's own deputy.
Despite those chronic headaches
and the weakness and the pain
You'd travel and do all the work
And rarely would complain.
A devoted, loving husband,
kind in spirit-gentle touch
Adoring father, son and grandpa
Family always meant so much.
Although our hearts are aching,
Your Spirit now flies free
To be a guardian angel
For all eternity.
And although you’re not a general,
I salute you from my heart
Feeling blessed for having known you
As from this world you now depart.
Your family will go forward,
knowing you are now at peace
All the suffering that you endured
Now at last can cease.
God bless you on your journey,
we will miss your gentle voice
It was time for God to call you home
We know you had no choice.
Your legacy of character,
humble faithful true
Shall endure for generations
A light that's shining through.
Henry “Hank” Bloomberg worked for BVA as a Field Service Representative, was an
accredited National Service Officer, and served in a variety of voluntary capacities on behalf of
blinded veterans in the Pennsylvania Regional Group.
Hank was born in Patton, Pennsylvania, and served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.
His first love was diesel truck mechanics. After losing his vision and hence his truck inspection license
through disease, he subsequently retrained for a new career and graduated from Bowling Green
University with an M.S. degree, specializing in Rehabilitation Counseling.
Following his stint as a BVA Field Rep, Hank worked for the Pennsylvania Bureau of
Blindness and Visual Services in Erie. He served as president of the BVA of Pennsylvania for 10
years, president of the Clearfield-Jefferson County Chapter of the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind,
president of the Northwest Pennsylvania Blind Golfers Association, and held a seat on the
Pennsylvania State Veterans Commission. He also represented BVA on the Advisory Council of the
Pennsylvania Soldiers and Sailors Home.
In recognition of his volunteer service, Hank received two Pennsylvania Commendation
Medals from the Pennsylvania governor. BVA of Pennsylvania also presented him with its Jules
Schick Award for his selfless service on behalf of blinded veterans.
Hank is survived by his wife, Sandy; sons David Abbey, Randy Yarwasky, Toby Yarwasky;
daughters Kathy Abbey and Debbie Sutkoff; eight grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.
Funeral services were held September 1 at the Goble-Baronick Funeral Home in DuBois,
Pennsylvania. Full military honors were accorded from the funeral home by the members of the
DuBois Area Honor Guard.
Blinded Vets Bask in
by Stuart Nelson
“We have brought them here to be our guests and to hopefully inspire them to pursue higher
possibilities, but what has happened is the exact opposite—they have lifted and inspired us ,” said Tom
Miller as he welcomed BVA convention attendees and many VA BRS employees to the Tuesday
evening President’s Reception.
Tom was referring specifically to the 14 Operation Iraqi Freedom service members from
throughout the United States and the United Kingdom who had recently lost their vision and who were
attending the convention with a spouse, parent, or sibling.
“Having listened to their stories last night, I can attest to their courage and spirit of
determination to move forward with their lives in the face of considerable adversity,” he continued. “I
hope all of us will make a special effort to get acquainted with them this week.”
Tom’s remarks and a subsequent welcome by Norman Jones set the tone for an activity-filled
and sometimes emotional BVA 63rd National Convention. During the same remarks, Tom announced
that he had learned of Sid Ordway’s passing just moments prior to the reception.
A total of 288 individuals registered for and attended the convention, of which 140 were BVA
members. An additional 91 individual exhibitors in 45 booths and 28 presenters were also present for
at least a portion of the week. The gathering was without regular attendees such as Bob Routh and
Larry Grant, who passed away during the past year. Otis and Elizabeth Scott; General and Sheila
Weeks; and Bill and Betty Orr were also missed. Many of the BVA faithful also asked about twice-
proclaimed BVA Sweetheart Dawna Johnson, who was recovering from recent surgery.
Operation Peer Support
Blazes Yet New Trails
The Convention hosted 11 U.S. service members recently blinded in Iraq as part of BVA’s
three-year-old Operation Peer Support initiative. The BVA family also began a new tradition in
welcoming three of their counterparts from the United Kingdom as special guests.
The service members and one guest companion from “across the pond” spent two days in
Washington, DC, prior to their trip to Phoenix. Hosted by BVA Director of Government Relations
Tom Zampieri, the tour began with welcoming visits at the British Embassy and the office of DC
Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton. They then visited and ate lunch at the National Headquarters of the
Veterans of Foreign Wars followed by stops at Arlington National Cemetery, the Kennedy Center for
the Performing Arts, and many of the memorials and monuments of the Nation’s Capital.
“It was another rewarding convention week and a step forward in our efforts to connect OIF and
OEF service members who have recently lost their vision with our blinded veterans from World War
II, Korea, and Vietnam, said Tom Zampieri. “This year we were able to come up with more activities
and opportunities for interaction than ever before.”
Operation Peer Support activities in Phoenix included all of the major convention business,
instructional sessions, and social functions in addition to group-specific meetings on education,
employment, and technology. Participants also attended a clinic coordinated by U.S. Association of
Blind Athletes Executive Director Mark Lucas and instructed by Paralympic athletes Jennifer
Armbruster and Tim Willis. The clinic focused on the sport of goalball and sighted-guide competitive
running. Following the clinic, they toured a newly-constructed warehouse and office building of
Arizona Industries for the Blind.
“Our greatest desire is that the Operation Peer Support initiative provide the means by which
those who have experienced loss of vision recently can connect with both one another and also with
those who traveled the same challenging road years ago,” said Tom Zampieri. “We hope that this year
we took advantage of the unique opportunity to strengthen the bonds of friendship with our brothers in
Great Britain—to whom we as Americans owe so much for their support and sacrifice in time of war.”
U.S. participants were Mark Strand of Mesa, Arizona; Matthew Slaydon of Avondale, Arizona;
Jerry Abney of Miami, Florida; David Kinney of Deland, Florida; Steve Baskis of Golconda, Illinois;
Matthew Locricchio of Clinton Township, Michigan; Dexter Durrante of Fayetteville, North, Carolina;
Gilbert Magallanes of Clarksville, Tennessee; Alan Babin of Round Rock, Texas; and Matthew
Bradford of Mosinee, Wisconsin; and Matthew Mogi of San Diego, California.
Participants from The United Kingdom were Simon Brown of Morley, West Yorkshire; Craig
Lundberg of Liverpool; and Ben Shaw of Linburn.
Operation Peer Support activities have been made possible by the generous support of several
corporations and individuals. At the top of this year’s list of supporters are Health Net, National
Industries for the Blind, Genentech, and the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Peake Visits with Servicemen,
Speaks at Opening Session
“Care for blind and visually impaired veterans fits absolutely into the context of our priority
patients,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake in his keynote address at the
convention’s opening business session.
“This includes those with service-connected disabilities, those with special needs, and those
who might otherwise fall through the safety net that is now established to locate and help many like
you who are in the audience today,”
Secretary Peake credited technological advances and their integration into new systems of care
for doing more than simply adding some convenience to a veteran’s life.
“These are more than tools,” he said. “They constitute life changes that make the slogan ‘be all
you can be’ more than just a slogan but a reality for many veterans.”
He also praised the individuals who help make such life changes possible. “What a great
experience to see the dedication and the caring of our professionals up close and personal, and to hear
from the veterans themselves of how these professionals are making a difference in their lives.”
Secretary Peake also met privately and spoke personally with each Operation Peer Support
participant and accompanying family member prior to his speech.
Following the address, on behalf of BVA, Past National President Neil Appleby presented Dr.
Kara Gagnon with a plaque of appreciation for her dedicated, compassionate help to blinded veterans
at the Eastern Blind Rehabilitation Center over a period of 13 years. Neil emphasized Dr. Gagnon’s
leadership in the area of Traumatic Brain Injury and its visual consequences.
Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and The Honorable Arizona Supreme Court Justice Michael D.
Ryan, a medically retired, combat-disabled Vietnam veteran himself, then welcomed convention
attendees to Phoenix.
Exhibitor Totals Surpass
A record 45 companies featuring the latest in exciting technology and aids for blinded veterans
exhibited their products at the BVA 63rd National Convention. Many of them also offered financial
support for a number of convention functions.
“Our exhibitors have always been a vital component of our convention and it is especially
significant that they are here at the same time as VA’s BRS conference,” said Tom Miller.
New Possibilities Envisioned
at Friday Forum Sessions
Four separate educational sessions relating to emerging technology and cutting-edge resources
for blinded veterans comprised the Friday morning agenda.
“I’m hearing things we never would have dreamed of even a short time ago, which makes these
forums the best-kept secret of our conventions,” said Jack Shapiro, New York Regional Group. “If our
members came to the conventions just to hear the fascinating advances in science, technology, and
what is now available to us, it would still be well worth their time and money.”
“I’m very grateful for Father Carroll’s book (Blindness: What It Is, What It Does, and How
to Live with It) because, as a nurse, we don’t get much exposure to people who are blind or visually
impaired and don’t know much about them,” she said. “I’m appalled by this and hope to make a
difference in changing this phenomenon in the future.”
General Pollock related her role in helping the Department of Defense recognize and account
for a larger than previously acknowledged number of combat eye injuries occurring in Iraq and
Afghanistan. She also mentioned her passion for the establishment of an eye trauma center of
excellence and BVA’s role in the legislation that will eventually bring about its inception.
“You need to know that there are very, very committed men and women across all of the
services who are working on this and many other issues affecting vision and who would really like to
push the edge of the envelope,” she said. “There is work going on but, as an impatient person, I’m
looking at all of the other things going on out there in the world that hold even greater possibilities.”
General Pollock also outlined some of her most significant life experiences at a young age that
motivated her: first, to become an Army nurse; second, to never back down when there is opposition;
and, third, to possess the passion she now has about issues related to vision.
“Too many people with vision impairment retreat from the world and, as a result, the world
doesn’t see them, she said. “Until the world knows that our issues even exist, we are not going to make
General Pollock challenged the convention body to confront and teach those who are often
afraid to interact with the blind and visually impaired because they do not know how to do so.
“I am going to challenge all of you to continue to be out there, to be vocal, and to be visible to
those who can’t even imagine what your lives are like.”
Following the speech, Steve Matthews presented Robie MacLaughlin, Massachusetts Regional
Group, with a plaque of appreciation for his four years of voluntary service as the Region I Field
Service Representative in Boston. His assistant, Jan Cormier, was also recognized for outstanding
Delegates Elect Officers,
Approve Bylaws and Resolutions
Voting members of BVA and regional group delegates in attendance approved two bylaw
amendments and 44 total resolutions.
On Wednesday, the Bylaws and Resolutions Committee considered 47 resolutions and
recommended that the first 38, still pending from last year, be passed as a block. An additional nine
resolutions were considered in greater detail by both the Committee and by the general membership at
the Closing Business Session. Six of the nine resolutions passed and were added to the 38 approved as
a block, totaling 44.
Elections for six positions on the Board of Directors were held either during the months leading
up to the convention or at the convention itself. All six of the elections—for National President,
National Vice President, National Secretary, National Treasurer, and Directors of Districts 5 and 6—
had a single candidate. Each one ran unopposed.
District Directors elected for full three-year terms were:
Director of District 5—Dr. George Stocking
Florida Regional Group
Director of District 6—Mark Cornell
South Texas Regional Group
National Officers elected for one-year terms were:
President—Dr. Norman Jones, Jr.
Georgia Regional Group
Vice President—Dr. Roy Kekahuna
Silver State Regional Group
New York Regional Group
South Texas Regional Group
The election of Mark Cornell as National Treasurer created a vacancy in the directorship for
District 6. The National Board of Directors accordingly appointed Roy Young of Trinity, Texas, as the
interim Director of District 6. The Board also appointed David VanLoan of Moosup, Connecticut, as
the interim Director of District 1.
Additionally, the National Board of Directors re-appointed Reverend Neftali Sanchez of the
Silver State Regional Group for his 30th year of service as BVA National Chaplain and Charlotte
Noddin of the Oregon Columbia Regional Group as the National Sergeant-at-Arms.
Young Garners Maas
and Diener Awards
Roy E. Young made BVA history as the first blinded veteran ever to receive both the Major
General Melvin J. Maas Award for Professional Achievement and the Irving Diener Award in the same
A Vietnam veteran, Roy was nominated for both awards for having dedicated every aspect of
his life to helping others during the past dozen-plus years.
Roy’s accomplishments and service to blinded veterans as a man of both action and
compassion comprise a list that seems endless. The list is filled with act after selfless act, many of
which grew into major campaigns, projects, and events that required months and even years of
organization and coordination before they fully blossomed.
Such activities include an outreach program that features exhibits, Gumbo cook-offs, Lions
Club turkey shoots, motorcycle rallies, auto races, NASCAR rides, picnics, gifts from local
professional sports teams, parade participation, mammoth Christmas parties, advocacy efforts to bring
a new VA rehabilitation program to Houston, development of relationships with the local media, and a
special focus on service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Hazel Powell Honored
“There is no way to measure the amount of effort and positive effect that Hazel Powell has had
on the Northern Arizona Regional Group, both in its daily operations and from a long-range
perspective,” wrote current Regional Group President Karen Oswald.
An active Auxiliary member for 15 years, Hazel was most recently the president of the regional
group Auxiliary, a past National President of BVAA, and elected again as National President at the
“As a support to her late husband, Harold ‘Doc’ Powell, as he fulfilled the responsibilities of
his position as NARG president, this convention here in Phoenix is the fulfillment of a dream both of
them had,” said Tom Miller as he introduced Hazel as the 2008 David L. Schnair Award Volunteer
Service Award recipient.
Hazel has inspired not only blinded veterans but all who have witnessed her spirited
perseverance. She was instrumental in securing office space for the regional group in the eye clinic at
the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center. She then made certain that the space was occupied by
adequate staff and supplied with sufficient resource materials, even it meant that she and Doc would
spend hours far beyond their fair share at the facility.
Regional Group Recognition
Reflects Commitment, Sacrifice
Norman Jones praised, congratulated, and handed off honorary gavels to two BVA regional
groups at the Awards Banquet. The gavels awarded represent the groups’ exceptional results in their
attempts to increase membership. The winners are:
2008 Gold Gavel Award
Rio Grande Regional Group
(largest numerical increase—62 new members)
2008 Silver Gavel Award
San Diego Regional Group
(largest percentage member increase—9.2 percent)
Bill Case was on hand to accept the Gold Gavel for the Rio Grande Regional Group and Bill
Montgomery accepted the Silver Gavel for the San Diego Regional Group.
What and where would a BVA National Convention be without Margarine Beaman?
Oops, perhaps better not to even contemplate an answer to that question or to imagine how the
event would come together without the kindest, most personable volunteer who returns year after year.
She is the one volunteer who insists on 24-hour shifts for seven consecutive days, who serves as the
convention lost and found, concierge, bank, personal confidant, secretary, phone operator, elevator
operator, security guard, tour guide, meteorologist, meal hostess, and more.
BVA thanks Margarine for another amazing performance by a corps of effective volunteers.
Special recognition is again extended to Assistant Convention Coordinator and Chief Troubleshooter
Larry Martinez and to Elena Martinez, Renee Johnson, Cora Stamper, Alicia Perry, and Anita Ayoob
for their work at the registration desk. Sam Ayoob was again impeccable in the Hospitality Suite while
Gulf War blinded veteran Don Overton provided special assistance to Operation Peer Support.
Co-chairs Mike Kanitsch and Karen Oswald, supported by Tom Hicks and Norene Spar,
deserve extra kudos for the mostly-behind-the-scenes planning they did for the better part of two years.
Gladden 63rd Winners
One of the distinguishing features of this year’s sweepstakes drawing at the end of the
convention Awards Banquet was that none of the four winners, all male, were actually present to hear
their names announced. If they didn’t receive the news through the grapevine shortly thereafter, they
did receive a congratulatory telephone call from Tom Miller a few days later.
The grand prize sweepstakes winner was BVA member Lawrence Freeman, a Vietnam War era
veteran from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Lawrence received approximately $4,300 in winnings, or 50
percent of the prize pool.
Second prize went to Henry Spence of Virginia Beach, Virginia. Henry won some $2,100, which
was 25 percent of the prize pool.
The third-place winner was Clifford McGilvrey, a World War II veteran and resident of San
Antonio, Texas. Clifford collected $1,300, or approximately 15 percent of the prize pool. Clifford’s
lucky ticket was not a first for him. He also took fourth-placed proceeds at the 60th National
Convention in Miami Beach just three years ago.
Larry Hall of Augusta, Georgia, was the name drawn for fourth place. His winnings were
approximately 10 percent of the prize pool, amounting to about $800.
on BVA’s Horizon
Mark your calendars for the 64th National Convention at the Doubletree Hotel in Portland,
Oregon, August 18-22, 2009. According to Oregon Columbia Regional Group President and
Convention Chair Frank Armstrong, the group is working feverishly on fundraising and social
activities to make the event both enjoyable and affordable.
“It is going to be one helluva ball,” he said, “and it won’t cost our members an arm and a leg
either. We are planning and arranging things that will make this a one-of-a-kind convention that no one
will want to pass up.”
Frank referred to the Lloyd Center, the largest covered mall west of the Mississippi River and
located directly across the street from the Doubletree. The Center, he explained, features more than
200 shops, movie theaters, and eateries, and is one of countless shopping stops in which convention
attendees can take advantage of Portland’s “no sales tax” law.
Also within short walking distance of the hotel are the Rose Garden Arena, the Portland
Convention Center, and Memorial Coliseum. Nearby attractions are the Riverplace Esplanade,
Washington Park Zoo, and The Pearl Historical District.
The 15-floor, 476-room Doubletree offers views of the city skyline or the Cascade Mountains. It
houses a well-equipped fitness facility, wheelchair access throughout, a tennis court, and a full-service
business center. Also on the property are two restaurants: Multnomah Grille (American cuisine and
Northwest specialties) and Eduardo’s Mexican Grill and Cantina. Room amenities include refrigerator,
mini-bar, and free newspaper.
Doubletree rates for the gathering will be $106 plus a 12.5 percent room tax that brings the total
per night to $119.25. There is a free hotel shuttle to and from the single-terminal airport and for trips
within a five-mile radius of the Doubletree. The MAX light rail system is also available from the
airport and for trips throughout the area. Parking per day will be $9 with in/out privileges.
Delegates to the 63rd National Convention voted to select Washington, DC, as the city in which
BVA will commemorate its 65th year of service to blinded veterans. The Puerto Rico Regional Group
had also submitted a bid to host the anniversary convention.
Dates and hotel for the 65th gathering will be August 24-28, 2010 at the Crystal Gateway
Marriott in nearby Arlington, Virginia. The hotel is located some three miles across the Potomac River
from the Nation’s Capital, less than five miles from BVA National Headquarters, and about a mile-
and-a half from Arlington National Cemetery.
Wealth of Resources
By Anne Yeadon and Maureen Duffy
Are You “AWARE”?
Today, loss of sight doesn’t mean losing sight of life’s pleasures and ambitions. If you’re a
veteran who is blind or has low vision, there is a wealth of vision rehabilitation resources you can
access (at no or very low cost). Please check out www.VisionAWARE.org.
VisionAware is a “Self-Help for Vision Loss” website that includes regular newsletters,
interviews, and questions/answers on a wide range of vision rehabilitation topics, including eye
diseases and disorders, home management, home modification, reading and writing, personal care and
grooming, recreational activities, crafts, Braille, computers and technology, and a range of services and
The site demonstrates how the totally blind and partially sighted can surf the web,
communicate via email, read electronic books, and access daily newspapers independently through the
use of computers equipped with specialized hardware and software that provide speech capability and
If you want to learn about more vision rehabilitation skills independently, as many people do, there
is a wealth of additional vision rehabilitation self-help and self-study options for you.
CIL Publications and Audiobooks offers self-study audiotapes and audiobooks. Subjects include
indoor mobility, personal management, and sensory development. The E.A.R.S. for EYES Program
provides free self-study audiotapes that teach adaptive daily living skills, including kitchen techniques,
eating skills, indoor mobility, and personal grooming. The Hadley School for the Blind offers
distance education courses at the high school level, GED preparation, Braille and communication
skills, independent living, recreation and leisure, and assistive technology.
The VisionAWARE Bookstore contains descriptions of, and links to, publications on blindness
and low vision, including biographies and autobiographies of people who have successfully coped with
vision loss. The VisionAWARE "My Story" series provides real-life interviews with men and
women who are blind or have low vision.
Vision Rehabilitation Services
The field of “Vision Rehabilitation” includes a wide range of professional services that can
restore everyday functioning after vision loss. Services of specially trained personnel include Low
Vision Therapists (LVTs) who teach the use of low-vision optical devices, non-optical devices, and
assistive technology, and can help determine the need for environmental modifications in your home
They also include Vision Rehabilitation Therapists (VRTs) who teach adaptive
independent living skills such as home management, home mechanics, financial management, reading
and writing, assistive technology, and personal grooming.
Orientation and Mobility Specialists (O&Ms) teach the skills and concepts needed in order
to travel independently and safely in your home and community such as the use of human guides,
mobility canes, and electronic travel aids and devices.
Another prime resource for veterans is, of course, VA Blind Rehabilitation Service. The
mission of BRS is to coordinate a health care service delivery system that provides a continuum of care
for blinded veterans extending from their home environment to the local VA facility and to the
appropriate rehabilitation setting. These services include adjustment to blindness counseling, patient
and family education, benefits analysis, comprehensive inpatient training, outpatient rehabilitation
services, the provision of assistive technology, and research.
BRS programs are of particular importance when considering the numbers of blinded and low-
vision veterans throughout the country that remain unaware of the services available to them. VA
estimates 165,000 blinded veterans and more than a million with low vision. Fewer than 45,000 of
these men and women have enrolled for VA care.
Employment with Blindness
or Low Vision
You can learn more about employment resources and information, legal rights, workplace
assistive technology, and employment support groups at a page on the VisionAware site entitled
Employment and Workplace Adaptations for Adults Who Are Blind or Have Low Vision.
For more information on self-help options, locating vision rehabilitation specialists, vision
rehabilitation services, adaptive devices and products for independent living, and a wide range of
other activities, click on www.VisionAWARE.org.
Anne Yeadon is the Executive Director and Maureen Duffy is the Editorial Director of
VisionAware. For actual web-based links to the aforementioned bolded resources, refer to the
online version of this article at www.bva.org/sum08bulletin.html.
Shine in Indy
Eight BVA members and five other veterans from the Boise, Idaho, VA Medical Center won a
stunning 26 medals at the VA Golden Age Games in Indianapolis August 20-24.
“The ‘Spudinators’ literally wowed the crowds,” said VIST Coordinator and Coach Valerie
Events in which the Spudinators won medals were their traditional specialty of bowling
(visually impaired and ambulatory), nine ball, horseshoes, shuffleboard, and cycling. They also
participated in swimming, dominoes, discus, and wheelchair shot put.
Help Hospitalized Veterans, a co-sponsor with VA of the event, gave Coach of the Year honors
to Valerie for her roles and responsibilities, according to Games Director Dewayne Vaughn, as
Spudinator coach, travel agent, chaperone, wardrobe coordinator, mentor, fund raiser, and cheerleader.
The Spudinators competed in their first Golden Age Games in 2004 in Fresno, California. Five
blinded veterans, two spouses, and two coaches attended that year. By 2008 the group had grown to 13
participants, two coaches, two support staff, three spouses, one other family member, and one friend.
The group reached a new goal in fundraising for 2008, raising $16,000 while organizing raffles,
root beer float sales, bake sales, preparation of a breakfast at VFW Post 63, and a Christmas bazaar.
Several service organizations also helped the Spudinators reach their goal.
The group nicknamed itself “Spudinators” several years ago to publicize itself as a force to be
reckoned with, said Valerie. Each year the team has received Idaho potato lapel pins from the Idaho
Potato Commission to distribute at the games.
“Over the years, the pins have become a much sought-after keepsake for other veteran
participants, volunteers, VA staff, airline personnel, and many others,” said Valerie. “Everyone wants
to be pinned or, as we call it, ‘spudinated’.”
The Idaho Potato Commission has deemed the Spudinators their “goodwill ambassadors.”
Band of Brothers
India Company 3/7 “Band of Brothers 1st Marine Division” will hold a reunion November 7-12
in Washington, DC. The reunion will include Veterans Day activities in the Nation’s Capital.
For additional information, contact reunion chairman Roger Villareal, 4201 Ember Lane, Deer
Park, TX 77536, Home Phone 281-930-8161, Cell 832-573-7382, or via email address
Illinois Vet Nets
Rick Olson, Illinois Regional Group and President of the Hines BRC Alumni, took top honors
for catching the largest fish on the last day of the fourth annual PFC Geoffrey Morris Memorial
Governors Cup Fishing Tournament on Lake Michigan.
The mutant head brown trout measured some 34 inches in length and weighed approximately
16 pounds. It was the largest fresh-water fish Rick had ever caught.
“Believe it or not, there are actually some advantages to fishing without vision,” said Rick.
“Because I go by feel and cannot see the bending line, I tend to be more patient and to refrain from
fighting the fish while the sighted sometimes panic.”
Rich is a “semi-experienced” fisherman, having taken his family to sail fish outside Cancun,
Although the fishing tournament as a whole took place over several days as a charity benefit
tournament to help the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund, the 44 active duty military and medically
retired veterans did their fishing on June 29.
Also participating in the tournament was Illinois Regional Group President Johnny Williams.
The tournament benefits the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund. It was named for Marine
Private 1st Class Morris from suburban Chicago. Morris was killed in combat in Fallujah, Iraq, in 2004
during some of the most intense fighting in the region.
for Silver State RG
A unique fundraising event on May 30 at the Italian-American Club in Las Vegas drew a big
crowd and a greater likelihood of future enthusiasm among Nevada blinded veterans.
“It may have been a run-of-the-mill spaghetti dinner, but the entertainment is what put it over
the top,” said Regional Group President Jim Kvool.
The evening’s hits for the 80-plus in attendance consisted of the Sun Country Cloggers, Three-
of-a-Kind, and organ music supplied by the Keith Jorgensen Music Center from nearby Henderson.
The three entertainment enterprises generously donated their time and talents in order to provide a fun
and relaxing evening for the regional group. A full-sized sheet cake decorated with the Blinded
Veterans Association’s name and a large U.S. flag was also popular.
“The biggest crowd pleaser, though, was an impersonation of Tina Turner,” said Jim.
He also said that regardless of the money that comes from fundraising efforts, the most
important benefit is that families can enjoy food, entertainment, and social interaction together.
“Our goal is to entice more members to become active, attend our regional group meetings, and
participate in all of our activities.”
Special Forces Men
Army Captain Ivan Castro, Operation Peer Support participant and two-time national
convention attendee, completed a triathlon event July 26 at the 2008 State Games of the West in
Colorado Springs, Colorado. Retired Master Sergeant Gilbert Magallanes also completed the event and
snared a gold medal in the javelin throw.
Operation Peer Support 63rd National Convention attendees viewed an inspirational video
produced by Visionalist Entertainment Productions that highlighted the effort of the two athletes. By
that stage of the convention, viewers of the video were already familiar with their enthusiasm,
determination, and effectiveness as spokespersons for service members who have recently lost their
Ivan’s run, swim, and bicycle ride came to a successful close with an exclamation that his first
triathlon would not be his last one. He hopes one day to compete in the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii.
Both Ivan and Gilbert completed each event with the assistance of a different guide, one of which
paired Ivan with the aforementioned USABA Executive Director Mark Lucas in the swimming
Ivan was injured after mortar hit the rooftop where he was providing fire support to fellow
soldiers during a battle with insurgents in Iraq in September 2006. He lost vision in both eyes and
suffered a fractured arm, broken nose and cheekbones, collapsed lung, and amputated finger. He
remained at Walter Reed Army Medical Center heavily sedated for six weeks barely able to stand and
support his body weight at first. Little more than a year later, Ivan ran the Army 10-miler and the
Marine Corps Marathon.
Gilbert served with the 5th Special Forces Group at Fort Campbell and was one of the first
Americans to be deployed in Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks. He was injured in
December of that same year when an American 2,000-pound bomb fell on his unit, which was in a
convoy escorting Afghan President Hamid Karzai in his travels. Members of his unit were killed and
Gilbert was critically injured, spending 30 days in a coma and enduring a broken neck and back, loss
of two fingers, a hole in his head the size of a golf ball, permanent kidney damage, and loss of most of
Lauded for Service
Add the name Clyde Jackson, chaplain of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Group, to the list of BVA
members who voluntarily give much of their time, means, and energy to serving others who so often
desperately need them.
Clyde was recognized on May 2 at the Richmond VA Medical Center’s annual volunteer
recognition luncheon for the 3,750 hours of voluntary service he had accrued as of September 30,
According to Janet Langhorne, Chief of Voluntary Service, Clyde is not only the designated
VA Voluntary Service (VAVS) representative but also serves on the medical center’s VAVS
Executive Committee, elected by his peers to this board of volunteer leaders.
“Clyde is a pleasure with whom to work, day in and day out!” said Langhorne.
Ships BVA Calendars
Florida Regional Group member Bill Geden and his wife, Nancy, Citrus County Coordinators
for Operation Shoebox, arranged for 2,400 BVA calendars for 2008 to be sent to U.S. troops stationed
in Iraq and Afghanistan in late 2007. They plan to do the same later this year with the 2009 edition.
The couple made two separate deliveries of the calendars from their home in Hernando to The
Villages, an upscale retirement community located about two hours away. One delivery consisted of
800 calendars shortly before Christmas while the other shipment in early February contained 1,600.
Operation Shoebox, an enterprise that also sent 31,282 Christmas stockings to Afghanistan last
December, is the brainchild of Belleview, Florida, native Mary Harper. Amazingly, in 2003 Harper
suddenly found herself with four children and a son-in-law all serving in Iraq at the same time. A year
later, she had a fifth child go on active duty. Regularly, Harper started sending all of them shoeboxes
filled with items that are often taken for granted at home—granola, crackers, cookies, magazines,
toiletries, stationery packets, etc.
Email messages thanking their mother for the goodies often referred to comrades who did not
receive letters, did not have much family support, and who desperately needed the type of items she
was sending to them. With a sense of mission, Harper recruited friends and neighbors in Belleview and
later moved the operation to The Villages.
In addition to BVA calendars and the other previously mentioned goodies, packages often
contain items such as coffee, tea bags, lemonade, sugar packets, cold cereal, oatmeal, toilet paper,
clothing, blankets, pillows, coffee mugs, games, CDs, flashlights, batteries, baby wipes, cameras, and
toys for Iraqi children.
For additional information on Operation Shoebox, go to www.operationshoebox.com.
Geden to Lead
Bill Geden, mentioned previously for his work with Operation Shoebox, was unanimously
selected earlier this summer as the Honorary Marshal for the 16th Annual Citrus County Veterans Day
Parade to be held November 11.
The theme for the county’s Veterans Appreciation Week is “Honoring Citrus County’s
Disabled Veterans.” According to Parade Coordinator Curtis Ebitz, the event’s coordinating committee
selected Bill “in recognition of his dedicated service to his fellow veterans.”
As the Honorary Marshal, Bill and BVA will be featured in a special, full-page, two-sided
Veterans Appreciation Week insert of the Citrus County Chronicle.
“Mr Geden’s inspirational example and persistent determination in serving his fellow veterans
and community at-large not only merit his selection as Honorary Marshal but also reflect positively on
both him and BVA,” said Ebitz.
Greater Houston Vets
Win Gumbo Cook-Off
Three blinded veterans and their spouses from the Greater Houston Regional Group recently
discovered that vision isn’t necessarily a prerequisite for cooking.
Just ask group president Ronnie Anderson and wife, Sharon, George and Martina Boe, and
Herb and Rae Robchaux. They arrived just shortly after 8 a.m. at Clear Lake Park’s Landholt Pavilion
in Harris County, Texas, with more than a dozen of the freshest ingredients possible to compete in a
gumbo cook-off last spring. It was the first attempt at such a venture for this group.
The April 12 competition was part of the county’s Crawfish Festival to raise money for the
upcoming Independence Day fireworks. In addition to the cook-off, the festival included a crawfish
eating contest, arts and crafts booths, music entertainment, games for the children, and a silent auction.
“We started cooking the gumbo at 9:30 a.m., taking turns stirring the pot to give others a
chance to enjoy themselves, to pass out literature about BVA, or to just talk with people, said Ronnie.
“We spoke to many veterans who knew nothing about BVA and who were unaware of other benefits
that may be available to them.”
“I can honestly say that none of us really had the slightest idea what we were doing,” said
Sharon Anderson. “We had pre-planned the ingredients but not quantities. We just kept tasting and
throwing things in, all the while realizing that we were up against 14 other cooking teams, in many
cases very experienced teams.”
Sharon said that the gumbo consisted of five different types of seafood, four or five different
vegetables, and at least six spices. Before they had finished cooking, there were eight gallons of gumbo
in two different pots. At 2 p.m. the festival crowd began visiting each gumbo station for sample tastes.
Official judges also stopped by the booth.
The group was encouraged by a few native Louisiana passersby who indicated that the blinded
vet gumbo was every bit as good as anything they had eaten in their home state.
The judges’ decision did not come until 7 p.m.
“After 4th and then 3rd place were announced, I knew we’d had a fun day although we hadn’t
won anything,” said Sharon. “We all went into shock when they announced that we had taken first
Ronnie used the experience to his benefit three days later in speaking before a group of
“I showed them the trophy and told them it was proof that limits are what we place on
ourselves, he said. “I told them that there is no limit to what a blind vet can do, given the chance.”
Ohio Group Offers
Support to VIST
Members of the Ohio Regional Group recently made a donation to the Cleveland VA Medical
Center VIST program to help out with activities in three different Ohio support groups.
“This is something we like to do on a regular basis and something we feel strongly that we
should do,” said Regional Group Treasurer Dave May. “Hopefully, other BVA regional groups across
the country are thinking of ways to be of greater assistance, financially or otherwise, to VIST
Coordinators and their support group efforts.”
The donation was designated for activities in support of groups located in Akron/Canton,
Parma, and Cleveland. The check was presented to longtime VIST Coordinator Ellen Papadimoulis
just prior to her departure from the job to become the Supervisor of Outpatient Blind Rehabilitation at
the Brecksville VA Medical Center. The new Cleveland VIST Coordinator is Marianne Crego.
White Cane Walk
Scores in Ohio
Members of the Ohio Regional Group contributed to a resoundingly successful third annual
White Cane Walk fundraiser in Westlake, Ohio, last spring.
The event, held May 31, was sponsored by the Cleveland Sight Center and included both the
regional group and the West Side Visually Impaired Veterans Support Group. According to then
Cleveland VA Medical Cent er VIST Coordinator Ellen Papadimoulis, walkers were of all ages—from
children in grade school to boy scouts, high school and college students, and senior citizens.
“The Cleveland Sight Center did an outstanding job with this event!” she emphasized. “We all
enjoyed distributing BVA literature and telling visitors who came to the ‘Veterans with Vision Loss’
table what VA and BVA have to offer.”
Staff members and volunteers of the Sight Center, as well as walkers, wore White Cane Walk
tee shirts while offering enthusiastic explanations about the organization’s program and blind
rehabilitation in general. An Orientation & Mobility Specialist explained the use of a white cane to the
walkers before they were given a cane and blindfolded. He discussed how the white cane is used as a
tool to enable blind individuals to travel independently.
“A Boy Scout troop leader later remarked how hard it was to stay oriented under a blindfold
and expressed admiration for the blind and visually impaired who travel independently with a cane,”
The event, she continued, revealed the abundance of existing opportunities to share what
blindness means and to educate fellow citizens. Although veterans in her support group know VA’s
history in developing the use of the white cane and training programs for blinded veterans, most of the
sighted world is largely unaware of such history.
“Promoting awareness about blindness is always noble, especially when it comes from blinded
veterans. It was wonderful to consider how many blind persons use white canes today and how
interested the public is in bettering its understanding of sight loss.”
by Joyce Thornton
The National BVA Auxiliary once again had a successful silent auction. This achievement will
allow six deserving students to receive a $1,000 scholarship. We thank all of the Auxiliary members
who so generously contributed items and brought us these results.
New officers were also elected for the coming year. We congratulate them on being elected and
for being willing to serve. Hazel Powell is our National President once again while Pat Grant was
elected as the new Vice President. Sandy Krasnodemski will continue in her role as National Secretary
and Ann Case is the newly elected Treasurer. I am pleased to be back as the Reporter after a one-year
hiatus. I wish all of us a happy and productive year.
Helping All Our
It should not surprise any of us that our challenge for the coming year is to assist veterans in
our home areas in whatever capacity we can. Whether it is a phone call, a visit, providing a meal, or
helping with transportation, we need to let our veterans in need know that we as individuals and as an
organization are willing to help.
I must compliment Bill and Nancy Geden of Citrus County, Florida, who, on a weekly basis,
deliver food from a pantry that they maintain continually. This is done simply to make sure that
veterans do not go hungry.
Maybe you cannot do exactly what Bill and Nancy do. Nevertheless, there are a myriad of other
things that you can do in your community to add to the quality of life of a veteran, or perhaps two
veterans, or perhaps three, four, five, and on and on.
White Cane Day is coming soon. In the community of Fort Myers, the agencies serving
visually impaired persons are participating in a walkathon to celebrate the day. BVA is one of the
participants. The walkers will donate $20 and receive a tee shirt, lunch, and a chance at prizes.
Lee County is declaring October 11 as its official White Cane Day. Several service
organizations, including BVA, are participating and will benefit from an arrangement in which
donations will be shared.
I am sure many of you have creative White Cane Day ideas for your towns and cities. Please
make the most of the opportunities available to you, especially when you have the time, resources, and
good health to make a difference.
Letters to the Editor
Field Rep Praises
On behalf of our Field Service staff and all of our members, I wish to thank Fernando Rivera,
newly appointed VA Medical Center director in Washington, DC, for his innovative idea of placing
pharmacy pagers for visually impaired veterans.
The new practice was effective June 2 in both outpatient pharmacy clinics and primary care
BVA, the VIST, and the medical center staff also deserve kudos for this achievement, which is
a demonstration of the top-notch care received by our blinded veterans in the Washington, DC, area.
Silver Spring, MD
Region II Field Service Representative
New Website Design:
A Note from the Editor
Visitors logging onto BVA’s website on or after August 8 may well have been surprised and
caught off-guard. That is because the site now has a new look and feel for the first time in more than a
It was time for this face of our organization to more effectively reflect the people, activities,
and mood that make BVA what it is—an effective advocate for blinded veterans and their families
whose history now spans an amazing 63 years.
New features include a site map that makes finding things much easier, text enlargement
capability, less redundancy, and lighter colors for a more pleasing look.
Our task now, a daunting one indeed, is to make the site as dynamic and relevant as possible to
our members, friends, and supporters throughout the world. It is still a work in progress and one that
requires an undivided attention that is not always easily provided. Most challenging are decisions
regarding what, where, and how items and resources should be uploaded to the site.
The new design was conceptualized by Starfish Design of Centreville, Maryland, under the
direction of artist and webmaster Carolyn Coon. Carolyn has directed design projects for BVA’s
Department of Development and Department of Communications for more than 15 years. She is a
consummate professional who understands BVA’s mission and unique needs.
Congratulations, Carolyn, on a job very well done.
Log onto www.bva.org and check out the new design.
Stuart Nelson, Content Editor
BVA Bulletin and BVA Website
The Blinded Veterans Association deeply regrets the deaths of the following blinded veterans.
From the Connecticut Regional Group,
From the Florida Regional Group,
John M. Bulger
Keith E. Erisman
Robert P. Hector
Paul Kovarick, Jr.
Donald L. Lachowicz
John L. McCreery
Walter P. Rahn
Henry E. Reynolds
Joseph M. Russo
Carl S. Snyder
Mathias N. Steinborn
From the Gem State Regional Group,
Georgia Regional Group,
Norman E. Bowie
Franklin W. Lee
Greater Houston Regional Group,
Bernard F. Dybala, Sr.
William R. Gaddis
George J. Schaumburg
Illinois Regional Group,
James Otis Price
From the Kansas Regional Group,
Percy L. Barfield
William H. Joslin
Elden E. Miller
Kentuckiana Regional Group,
Wilbur N. Cundiff
Ronald E. Leach
Leonard E. Verbeke
Massachusetts Regional Group,
Sebastian S. Grassi
Michigan Regional Group,
John D. Teachout
Mid-Atlantic Regional Group,
Leo N. Plaskie
Stanley M. Wisnewski
Missouri Regional Group,
Leo R. Steinkoenig
From the Mountain States Regional Group,
Herbert G. Britton
Curtis B. Trent
Nebraska Regional Group,
New Hampshire Regional Group,
New Jersey Regional Group,
Lawrence A. Lorentson
John F. Stack, Sr.
New York Regional Group,
Edward R. Davis
George C. Dischinger
Robert E. James
Henry J. Kotlarz
John L. McDonald
Peter R. Newbauer, Sr.
Robert R. Oelrich
William D. Rotner
Frank J. Sarago
Francis W. Smith
Herbert T. Smith
Laverne A. Smith
William R. Snyder
David D. Ward
From the North Carolina Regional Group,
Mary A. Anderson
North Texas Regional Group,
Richard D. Critchlow
Northern Arizona Regional Group,
Stanley G. Evans
Patrick S. Green
Northern California Regional Group,
Harry Q. Sullivan
Ohio Regional Group,
James S. Bowers
Paul M. Brockington
Julius E. David
David D. Denzer
Harvey A. Holben
Floyd H. Miller
Earl E. Vermillion
From the Oklahoma Regional Group,
Pennsylvania Regional Group,
James J. Ahern
Henry E. Bloomberg
Jack R. Curtis
Harry W. Ellis
Walter R. Szwedkowski
John R. Thomas
Alvin Justin Wile
From the Puerto Rico Regional Group,
Rafael F. Tufino
Rio Grande Regional Group,
Ralph U. Overby
Rocky Mountain Regional Group,
Silver State Regional Group,
Freddie L. Anderson
Richard V. Hague
Herbert E. Keel
Clinton W. Witter
South Texas Regional Group,
Richard H. Klitch
Sidney G. Ordway
Southern Arizona Regional Group,
Southern California Regional Group,
Charles H.B. Morgan
From the Tennessee Regional Group
Clarence R. Keeton
Washington Regional Group,
Norman C. Palmer
Edward L. Ross
Western Mountaineer Regional Group,
Charles A. Edwards
James S. Koji
James G. Smith
And, from the Wisconsin Regional Group,
Franklin L. Nichols
“I was privileged to watch all of the ‘new lads’ grow in stature and confidence as a result of
Operation Peer Support activities,” said Mike Brown, who accompanied his son, Corporal Simon
Brown, to the BVA 63rd National Convention, from Morley, West Yorkshire, England.
“Above all, Operation Peer Support is about preventing isolation and supplying an ongoing
source of knowledge, experience, help, and friendship.”
Pictured here, Simon readies himself for play during a goalball clinic instructed by Jennifer
Armbruster, a Paralympian ranked among the top five players in the world.