Blinded Veterans to Gather at Reno Convention
Blinded veterans from across the country will come together August 18-21 at John Ascuaga’s Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks, Nevada, for the 69th 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.
Delegates and other convention attendees, among them 14 U.S. and seven British service members or veterans who have recently experienced vision loss, will set BVA’s course for its upcoming fiscal year, participate in a variety of information sessions, reunite with old friends, and take part in special events, including a grand finale Awards Banquet on August 21.
Convention attendees will also hear from newly appointed Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert A. McDonald and Sparks Mayor Geno Martini in the convention’s Opening Business Session on August 19. They will be favored by remarks from Bill Wedekind, the only known blind, bilateral double-amputee potter in the world and a life member of BVA, at the August 20 Father Carroll Memorial Luncheon. Wedekind was wounded in Vietnam in 1968.
BVA’s membership of approximately 11,500 includes blinded veterans from the state of Nevada, seven of whom will attend the convention. Four of the attendees are from the Reno-Sparks area. 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 69 years. Eligibility for assistance does not require that a veteran’s blindness be service connected. There is no charge for any BVA service. For further information, call BVA at 800-669-7079 or visit the organization’s website.