Milwaukee Convention Hosts Vision Technology, Rehabilitation, Consumer Protection Experts (8/26/2016) 
   Blinded Veterans Association BVA Milwaukee Convention Hosts Vision Technology, Rehabilitation, Consumer Protection Experts

Milwaukee Convention Hosts Vision Technology, Rehabilitation, Consumer Protection Experts


Four leading authorities on emerging vision rehabilitation, consumer protection of veterans, retinal research, and other technological advances affecting the blind and visually impaired spoke in a forum setting on Thursday, August 25 at the Hilton Milwaukee City Center Hotel in downtown Milwaukee.

The forum, which ran from 8:30 a.m. until Noon in the hotel’s Regency Ballroom, is one of several educational components of the Blinded Veterans Association’s 71st National Convention. The August 22-26 gathering features organizational business meetings, social events, and an Exhibit Hall open to the public.

Forum speakers were The Honorable Dr. David J. Shulkin, Under Secretary for Health for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; Thomas B. Connor, Jr., MD, professor of ophthalmology and a retinal specialist at the Medical College of Wisconsin Eye Institute; Tony Camili of the Consumer Financial Protection Board; and Kelly Egan, Customer Relationship Manager for Sprint focusing on services and telecommunications technology to the blind and low-vision community.

BVA’s membership of 8,500 includes blinded veterans from the BVA of Wisconsin Regional Group, one of 52 groups nationwide. All BVA members share a common bond as legally blind veterans. They resolve to help one another understand and receive the rightful benefits they earned through their service. The Association also represents the interests of its members before the legislative and executive branches of government and encourages all blinded veterans to participate in VA blind rehabilitation programs.

BVA was established in March of 1945 when a small but close-knit group of World War II blinded veterans gathered together in Avon, Connecticut. The founders hoped to help newly blinded veterans adjust to life without sight and to regain their confidence and independence. This dedication has continued for 62 years.

Eligibility for assistance does not require that a veteran’s blindness be service connected. There is no charge for any BVA service and membership is not a prerequisite for assistance. For further information, call BVA at 800-669-7079 or visit the organization’s website at bva.org.


 High Tech Visual Aids Exhibit Highlights Blinded Veteran Convention (8/22/2016) 
   Blinded Veterans Association BVA High Tech Visual Aids Exhibit Highlights Blinded Veteran Convention

High-Tech Visual Aids Exhibit Highlights Blinded Veterans Convention

Devices that allow Internet surfing by speech, low-vision simulators, audible money identifiers and scanners, medical alarms and two-way emergency communicators, video magnifiers, mobility aids and guide dogs for independent living, and audible Global Positioning System products all take center stage in an exhibit hall at the Milwaukee Convention Center August 23-24.

The high-tech displays, located in Room 102 of the Convention Center, will reveal both old and new adaptive devices for both the totally blind and the visually impaired. The exhibit hall is among the most anticipated events and features of the 71st National Convention of the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA), which runs August 22-26 at the Hilton Milwaukee City Center Hotel and Convention Center.

Advances in technology continue to offer the blind and visually impaired opportunities to enjoy a higher quality of life, helping them live and work independently in increasingly innovative ways. During visits to the exhibit hall, BVA members, blind rehabilitation specialists from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the general public will have opportunities to see, feel, and test the new equipment. Representatives from the various industries, which also include several companies offering guide dog services, will answer questions and provide detailed explanations and demonstrations.

Hours of the exhibit hall are 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. on both August 23 and 24. The public is invited and encouraged to attend with no admission charge. Additional information about the Blinded Veterans Association and its services to blinded veterans is available at bva.org.


 Blinded Veterans to Gather at Milwaukee Convention August 22-26 (8/16/2016) 
   Blinded Veterans Association BVA Blinded Veterans to Gather at Milwaukee Convention August 22-26

Blinded Veterans to Gather at Milwaukee Convention August 22-26

Blinded veterans from across the country will come together August 22-26 at the Wisconsin Center and Hilton Milwaukee City Center for the 71st National Convention of the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA). The Association is a congressionally chartered Veterans Service Organization exclusively dedicated to serving the needs of America’s blind and visually impaired veterans and their families.

Several hundred delegates and other convention attendees, among them veterans who have recently experienced vision loss from injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan, will set BVA’s course for its upcoming fiscal year and participate in a variety of information sessions.

Highlights of the convention will be:

Exhibit Hall in the convention center open to the public August 23-24, featuring Internet surfing by speech, low-vision simulators, audible money identifiers and scanners, mobility aids and guide dogs for independent living, audible Global Positioning System products and more.

Luncheon on Thursday, August 25, with remarks by BVA of Wisconsin Regional Group President John Carter. John Carter is a Vietnam veteran whose career as a Milwaukee cop was cut short by a shotgun blast that cost him his eyesight. He later graduated from Marquette University Law School and became a distinguished attorney, highly respected by local lawyers and politicians.

A complete schedule of events can be found here.

A key financial supporter of this year’s gathering is Vanda Pharmaceuticals, a leading researcher into the causes and treatment of Non-24, a circadian rhythm sleep disorder. Other major sponsors of the BVA convention are NuEyes, America’s VetDogs, National Industries for the Blind, Eschenbach, En-Vision America, Uber, LS&S, and Sprint.

BVA’s membership of approximately 8,500 and convention attendees include blinded veterans from the state of Wisconsin. All BVA members share a common bond as legally blind veterans. They resolve to help one another understand and receive the rightful benefits they earned through their service. The Association also represents the interests of its members before the legislative and executive branches of government and encourages all blinded veterans to participate in VA blind rehabilitation programs.

About VISIT Milwaukee:

VISIT Milwaukee markets Greater Milwaukee to tourists, and convention and meeting planners, both nationally and internationally. VISIT Milwaukee has approximately 650 members, including hotels/motels, restaurants, attractions, services and area businesses. Total business sales related to tourism amounted to $5.1 billion in Greater Milwaukee in 2015 and supported more than 50,000 local jobs. The City of Wauwatosa, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino and the Wisconsin Center District are strategic partners with VISIT Milwaukee, providing funding support for conventions and tourism programs. For more information call 1-800-554-1448 or visit www.visitmilwaukee.org.

Thanks from VISIT Milwaukee!


 Commission on Care Releases Report (7/18/2016) 
   BVA News Commission on Care Releases Report July 2016

Commission on Care Releases Report


In Section 202 of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014, Congress established the Commission on Care, charging it to examine veterans’ access to Department of Veterans Affairs health care and to examine strategically how best to organize the Veterans Health Administration, locate health resources, and deliver health care to veterans during the next 20 years.

The final report of the Commission on Care is now available and can be downloaded below, in both .docx and .pdf formats.


 U.S. Blinded Veterans To Host British Comrades At VA Blind Rehabilitation Center (6/17/2016) 
   Blinded Veterans Association BVA U.S. Blinded Veterans To Host British Comrades At VA Blind Rehabilitation Center

Blinded Veterans Association BVA U.S. Blinded Veterans To Host British Comrades At VA Blind Rehabilitation Center


Eleven Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF, Afghanistan) combat blinded American veterans will spend “Technology Week” June 19-26 with six British blinded veteran comrades establishing new friendships, sharing knowledge of adaptive technology for the blind and visually impaired, and exchanging insights and personal experiences regarding their adjustment to blindness.

The veteran members of the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) and its counterpart organization in the United Kingdom, Blind Veterans UK, will gather at the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Central Blind Rehabilitation Center in Hines, Illinois, just outside Chicago, one of 13 such residential centers nationwide. The Hines facility is the oldest of the VA blind centers, its history dating back to 1948 as a training facility for blinded World War II veterans.

The advocacy efforts of BVA in the late 1940s were responsible, in large part, to the establishment of the Hines Center.

Transportation for the week to various Chicago area visits is being supported by the Cook County Sheriff’s Department under the direction of Sheriff Thomas J. Dart. Travel support to the British participants from London to Chicago is provided by British Airways. American Airlines will provide tickets for participants to see Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs take on the St. Louis Cardinals on the afternoon of June 22 at historic Wrigley Field. The airline will also provide a pizza dinner at the renowned Giordano’s following the game.

Behind this year’s Technology Week is BVA’s Operation Peer Support Committee, chaired by blinded veteran and Army First Sergeant Daniel Wallace (Ret.). Hines Center Director Denise Van Koevering has overseen organization of the week’s activities. Although 2016 is the fourth year that the center has hosted Technology Week for blinded veterans, it is the first year that British blinded veterans will be among the participants. Also attending as a participant will be BVA Executive Director Al Avina.

The group will share information about electronic mobile devices and readers. During site visits in the Chicago area, veterans will also test and work with innovative instruments such as talking computers, audible money identifiers and barcode scanners, bioptic telescopes used as eyeglasses, laptop video magnifiers, hand-held libraries of audible information, mobility aids for independent living, audible health monitoring devices, and portable Global Positioning System products.

They will also tour the VA Medical Center in which the Blind Rehabilitation Center is housed, visit historic sites, and participate in blind bowling and golf.

The exchange in Chicago has its roots in a joint initiative established in 2011 by the Blinded Veterans Association, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, and Blind Veterans UK in London. Last month four U.S. blinded veterans were hosted at the Blind Veterans UK facility in Wales with five of their counterparts in the UK. Two blinded veterans from South Africa also participated.

In addition to its role as an exchange forum, Project Gemini seeks to heighten public awareness of the issues facing veterans with vision loss. The outreach of the program has widened to include sessions with officials of VA, the Department of Defense, National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research, Moorfields Eye Hospital Research Centre in London, the British Parliament, and senior UK military officials.

“The wonderful relationship BVA has developed with Blind Veterans UK has blossomed into numerous opportunities such as the upcoming Technology Week at Hines,” said BVA Director of District 6 Dr. Tom Zampieri. “It allows us to share so many of our personal ‘war stories’ related to coping with blindness and our subsequent rehabilitation.”

Blind Veterans UK is the British national charity for visually impaired ex-servicemen and women celebrating 101 years of service to blind veterans and families. Tracing its founding back to 1915 during World War I, the organization now offers free and comprehensive support to all UK blinded veterans. For additional information, visit blindveterans.org.uk.

BVA’s earliest beginnings occurred March 28, 1945 when a group of World War II blinded servicemen convened in a formal meeting at Avon Old Farms Convalescent Hospital near Avon, Connecticut, for the purpose of establishing the Association.


Recent Posts

Milwaukee Convention Hosts Vision Technology, Rehabilitation, Consumer Protection Experts

Posted on 8/26/2016
Blinded Veterans Association BVA Milwaukee Convention Hosts Vision Technology, Rehabilitation, Consumer Protection Experts

High Tech Visual Aids Exhibit Highlights Blinded Veteran Convention

Posted on 8/22/2016
Blinded Veterans Association BVA High Tech Visual Aids Exhibit Highlights Blinded Veteran Convention

Blinded Veterans to Gather at Milwaukee Convention August 22-26

Posted on 8/16/2016
Blinded Veterans Association BVA Blinded Veterans to Gather at Milwaukee Convention August 22-26

Commission on Care Releases Report

Posted on 7/18/2016
BVA News Commission on Care Releases Report July 2016

Son of Irving Diener Visits BVA Office to Make Gift Supporting Diener Award

Posted on 6/28/2016
Blinded Veterans Association BVA Son of Irving Diener Visits BVA Office to Make Gift Endowing Diener Award

From the VA: VA Secretary Provides Relief for Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injuries

Posted on 6/28/2016
Blinded Veterans Association BVA VA Secretary Provides Relief for Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injuries

U.S. Blinded Veterans To Host British Comrades At VA Blind Rehabilitation Center

Posted on 6/17/2016
Blinded Veterans Association BVA U.S. Blinded Veterans To Host British Comrades At VA Blind Rehabilitation Center

Project Gemini May 2016

Posted on 5/23/2016
Blinded Veterans Association BVA Blind Veterans UK to Again Host American Veterans in British Isles