QUALIFICATIONS FOR MEMBERSHIP, ASSOCIATE MEMBERSHIP AND HONORARY MEMBERSHIP:
Any person having been, or being, in the Armed Forces of the United States shall be eligible if he/she has sustained an impairment of sight or vision, which is defined as Central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with corrective lenses, or a Visual field restriction of no greater than 20 degrees or less in the better eye.
Life Member: Above impairment of sight or vision is determined to be service-connected (In the line of Duty) by the VA or DOD
Associate Life Member: Above impairment of sight or vision is not determined to be service-connected (not Incurred in the line of Duty) by the VA or DOD
Honorary WWII Life Membership: Meets the above qualifications and served during WWII (December 7, 1941 – December 31, 1946). Honorary Members shall have no direct voice or vote of any kind in the affairs of the Association, but may submit suggestions or recommendations for the consideration of the Association and attend meetings. Qualified Honorary Members are eligible for appointment to The National Chaplain and National Sergeant-at-Arms by The National Board of Directors.
Supporting Documentation for Eligibility Verification
1. Military Service Documentation: Branch and Service Dates
a. Honorable Discharge (DD214), Retirement or Separation Papers
b. Any Life or Associate Life Member who has died shall have his/her membership continued in memoriam unto perpetuity. A roster of perpetual Life and Associate Life Members shall be maintained at the National Headquarters.
(i) Benefit summary letter
(ii) Service verification letter
c. Visual Impairment Service Team (VIST) Coordinator letter as described below.
2. Legal Blindness:” Central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with corrective lenses, or a Visual field restriction of no greater than 20 degrees’ or less in the better eye or ICD-10-CM Diagnosis Code H54.8 “Legal blindness, as defined in USA"
a. Honorable Discharge (DD214), Retirement or Separation Papers which clearly reflect a diagnosis of legal blindness
b. Physician's letter of legal blindness (generally from an ophthalmologist
c. VBA Rating Decision for blindness
d. VIST Coordinator letter as described below
3. Service Connection documentation (Life membership only)
a. VBA Rating Decision for blindness
BVA Supporting Documentation Assistance
If you need assistance in acquiring the Supporting Documentation you may complete a VA Form 10-5345 Authorization to release information or a VA Form 21-22 (POA) Appointment of Representative for a VA claim and BVA can assist. Call the Membership Department for more information at 202-371-8880.
Visual Impairment Service Team (VIST) Coordinator Letter
While BVA has made it a policy to accept a VIST letter with an attached release of information Form10-5345, please note a VIST Coordinator is not obligated to provide this letter and under VA policy, the request must be submitted through the Release of Information (RIO) Office.
Sample VIST Letter
(Veteran Name) served in the (Branch of service) from (Enlistment Date) to (Release Date). VHA records show the veteran meets ICD-10-CM Diagnosis Code H54.8 for legal Blindness.
VIST Name & contact information