BVA To Meet With UK Ministry of Defense Surgeon General (5/17/2018) 

BVA To Meet With United Kingdom's Ministry of Defense Surgeon General

On Monday, May 21, senior executives from the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) will have the honor of meeting with Surgeon General of the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence, Major General Martin Bricknell, at the British Embassy in Washington DC.

This visit is part of BVA’s ongoing Project Gemini goals of fostering continued relationships between the allied nations highlighting vision rehabilitation services, military eye trauma management, and research. Project Gemini reflects our efforts as two non-governmental non-profit veteran service organizations supporting our visually wounded service members, veterans, and their families started in May 2011. This meeting will be the third time BVA members have had an opportunity to meet with the UK Surgeon Generals since May 2012.

Maj. Joe Bogart, BVA Executive Director, Melanie Brunson, Director of Public Relations, and Col. Don Gagliano MC. (Ret. USA.) who is an honorary BVA board member and Chairman BVA Medical & Research Committee will all meet with SG Bricknell to discuss future joint cooperation on military eye injuries.

Four American blinded veterans will be in Wales, May 20-27, 2018 for a six-day educational exchange to share knowledge, insights, and friendship with their British war blinded comrades as this exchange continues in Wales for the 8th Project Gemini exchange. The international recognized initiative, known as Project Gemini, successfully began in May 2011 as a joint venture of Blind Veterans UK and the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA), headquartered in Washington, DC. In late May 2011, six veterans made a similar trip with some of the same activities that awaited the 2012 group.

Tom Zampieri, Project Gemini Coordinator, stated that “As result of Project Gemini, which is an outgrowth of Operation Peer Support, a BVA program begun in 2006 that brings together veterans of recent conflicts with those who have lost their sight in Vietnam, Korea, or during World War II, we now have this great international partnership.” The objective of the initiatives and Project Gemini program said Zampieri, “Is to provide veterans who have lost their sight recently with opportunities to interact with men and women who have led happy and prosperous lives despite their blindness and who can serve as role models and mentors.” The cornerstone of this is to build cooperation on supporting our eye wounded or injured service members in the transition from the military into veteran status.

In 2008, BVA sponsored the participation of three service members from across the Atlantic at its 63rd National Convention in Phoenix. Project Gemini returned the favor with the 2011 trip to England. St. Dunstan’s was founded in 1915 shortly before the outbreak of World War I. BVA traces its beginnings back to March 28, 1945 when a group of war-blinded servicemen met at Avon Old Farms Convalescent Hospital near Avon, Connecticut. BVA appreciates the support and donations that have made this Project Gemini such a big success.

 Blind Veterans UK to Host U.S. Veterans May 20-27 in United Kingdom (5/16/2018) 

Blind Veterans UK to Host U.S. Veterans 20-27 May in United Kingdom

Four American combat blinded veterans from the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) will share knowledge, insights, and friendship with five British blinded comrades and two South African war blinded in the United Kingdom. The exchange will take place in Manchester, England and Llandudno, Wales, 20-27 May. Known as Project Gemini, the exchange is now in its eighth year.

Joining this year’s exchange, as part of the week activities, will be two American internationally known ophthalmologists who will be guest speakers at a second public “Life Beyond Sight Loss” seminar on Wednesday, May 23 being hosted at the University of Manchester. They will discuss veterans’ rehabilitation, eye trauma, Traumatic Brain Injuries vision conditions, and vision trauma research as special Project Gemini initiative.

Blind Veterans UK's CEO Major General Nick Caplin (Ret. UK) strongly supports the growing focus of the exchange to include expert researchers in the Wednesday public TBI seminar. Joining this year’s exchange will be two Ophthalmologists, Dr. Randy Kardon neuro-ophthalmologist TBI researcher Iowa City VAMC, and professor at University Iowa, and Col. Robb Mazzoli MC (Ret. USA) the Director DOD Trauma Education for the Vision Center Excellence (VCE) as speakers for the four-hour public vision injury seminar, along with three UK vision researchers; Professor Stuart Allan, Research Domain Director, Neuroscience & Mental Health, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, The University of Manchester; Dr. Karla Greenberg, Clinical Director of March on Stress and King's Centre for Military Health Research, King's College London; Dr. Simon J. Clark, MRC Career Development Fellow, Division of Evolution and Genomic Sciences, The University of Manchester, UK.

Project Gemini was initiated in May 2011, named for the transatlantic cable that connects the United States and the United Kingdom, is a joint initiative between the nonprofit organizations BVA, Blind Veterans UK, and St. Dunstan's, South Africa. Expanding with the educational research to include training sessions with officials of the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, Moorfields Eye Research Center, and UK Defense military officials.

During the exchange, both groups of veterans will also share helpful hints about coping with blindness and the “war stories” that are part of their personal adjustment to blindness and subsequent rehabilitation. Participants from the US include Army SFC Scott Carruthers (Ret.), Vietnam War Era Specialist 5 Lawrence Carlin (Ret.), and Iraq War era veterans, Corporal Brian Harris (Ret.), and LTC.Ken Horn (Ret.). Maj. Tom Zampieri (Ret.), coordinator of the BVA OPS Committee Board of Director, will accompany the veterans.

The group will return Sunday, May 27 in conjunction with Memorial Day. Fitting that is a day we honor and remember the service men and women who have sacrificed their lives while serving in the military. Today, thanks to advances in medicine, more of our military service members' lives are being saved, but they are, nonetheless, forever changed. There is much more work to do. They survived various experiences serving during the Gulf War periods but were left with traumatic brain injuries and vision loss as result of their service.

The exchange will address the approach in treatments and policy goals between the countries in the areas of military eye trauma, traumatic brain injury, and vision research. It will further examine the common history with respect to vision rehabilitation programs for veterans from World War I to the present to recognize the U.S. WW I Centennial anniversary 1917-1918. Blind Veterans UK is national charity for visually impaired ex-servicemen and women celebrating 102 years of service to blind veterans and families. BVA’s was founded March 28, 1945 with group of World War II blinded

For more information contact Chet Curtis, (202)-371-8880, ext. 316 or

 BVA Updates Staff Directory (5/10/2018) 

BVA Updates Staff Directory

Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) has updated its Staff Directory, and in an effort to optimize customer service, a receptionist will be available between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Our main phone number remains 202-371-8880 and our toll-free number is 800-669-7070.

Names and extensions are as follows:

 Name  Extension  Position
 Joe Bogart
 304  Executive Director
 Krissi Spence-Gilbert
 323  HR Specialist
 Brigitte Jones
 330  Administrative Director
 Lindsay Ruais
 319  Development
 Yvonne Preston
 324  Bookkeeping
 Chet Curtis
 316  Communications
 Melanie Brunson
 305  Government Relations
 Dawn Jakutowicz
 313  Convention Coordinator
 Cecilia Amayo-Montenegro
 315  Membership
 Julian Sanders
 301  Receptionist
 Claudia Belk
 336  Field Services Operations
 Patrick Johnson
 333  VNSO Representative
 James Lewiski
 334  National Field Service
 Maria Ingegneri
 326  National Field Service
 Thedra Thornhill-Johnson
 602  National Veterans Claims

 First Annual Blinded Veterans Golf Tournament (3/29/2018) 
   First Annual Blinded Veterans Golf Tournament

First Annual Blinded Veterans Golf Tournament

Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) Operation Peer Support program is hosting our first annual Quail Valley Golf Tournament on Monday, April 9, 2018, and wants you to make this your next tournament. We invite players to meet our visually impaired and blinded veteran’s members while enjoying afternoon of golf activities, great food, and camaraderie. With 18 holes of championship golf, a full practice facility, and dining accommodations, we are excited to host your BVA golf tournament.

This golf tournament is way of supporting our blinded veterans and would like to request registering for the Blinded Veterans Association golf event Monday, April 9, 2018, that specifically assists our BVA Operation Peer Support Program (OPS).

I invite you to become a sponsor for the April 9, 2018 Quail Valley BVA Golf Event, as the need continues to grow to support our visually impaired and blinded veteran’s non-profit association, and for you to consider sending team to golf to register please go to

Join us for dinner with a BVA Operation Peer Support veteran speaker after great afternoon of golfing at

Your registration/sponsorship enables the BVA non-profit unique Operation Peer Support Program to; bring together new veterans experiencing vision loss with those of other generations, support a special Soldering On award international exchange Project Gemini program with the Blind Veterans UK, we also provide caregiver support, kayaking trips, sponsorship of blinded veterans in California and Boston Marathons, and help bring these veterans to other programs that build upon our peer support strength for these OPS veterans, and we also raise awareness on importance of vision trauma research.

There are 5,000 men and women that have been affected by severe penetrating eye injuries and nearly 38,000 have enrolled in the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care System with Traumatic Brain Injury visual system impairment.

These veterans have paid a high price to help secure our country’s freedom. Please register to play, be a sponsor one of our tournament opportunities, or help distribute this information. Set in Missouri City, TX in Southwest Houston, Quail Valley hosts a great driving range and practice facility for golfers with two 18 hole courses. You can see all of our opportunities to register and support BVA at The BVA veterans thank you in advance and welcome the opportunity to meet you at the April 9, 2018 golf event.

FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE VISIT or call Tom Zampieri - OPS Founder, BVA Board of Directors (301) 204 - 3291

 The Bataan Memorial Death March (3/22/2018) 
   The Bataan Memorial Death March

Blinded Veterans Association Members to Participate in the Bataan Memorial Death March

Members of the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) will participate in the 26.2-mile full marathon march through high desert terrain on 26 March in honor of the heroic service members who defended the Philippine Islands during World War II. This event will host four members of the BVA, Joe Bogart (BVA Executive Director), Mark Cornell (Past BVA National President San Antonio, TX), Carlos Pere (Florida Regional Group Central West Director, Riverview, FL), and Monaca Gilmore (BVA National Sergeant-At-Arms, Whitakers, NC).

Media wishing to interview members can contact Chet Curtis at or call 703-455-5515.

The Blinded Veterans Association is the only official voice for America’s veterans who are blind or visually impaired, successfully advocating for their needs since WWII. For more information about BVA and its services, call toll-free 800-669-7079 or visit

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