Panel of Blinded Veterans to Address TBI and Vision Loss at Denver Conference
Three blinded U.S. military veterans affiliated with the Blinded
Veterans Association’s Operation Peer Support initiative will share
their stories of vision loss as a result of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
suffered in combat situations as part of a special presentation and
panel discussion May 2 in Denver, Colorado.
The session is free of charge and open to the public. Scheduled for
the Colorado Convention Center’s Mile High Ballroom 1CD, the discussion
is a preliminary event of the annual meeting of the Association for
Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), the largest eye and vision
research organization in the world.
The ARVO conference is the largest international gathering of eye and
vision researchers, attracting more than 11,000 attendees from
approximately 75 countries. Official dates of the conference are May
Panelists are Navy Chief Petty Officer Glenn Minney (Ret.), current
Director of Government Relations at the Blinded Veterans Association
(BVA) National Headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, severely injured in
2005 when an Iraqi mortar exploded 30 feet in front of him; Army Staff
Sergeant Sean Johnson (Ret.), injured in the line of duty by a mortar
blast in 2006; and Army Sergeant Shianti Lee (Ret.), injured in 2005
when the vehicle in which she was riding was hit by explosives while
accompanying Special Forces on a mission in Taji, Iraq.
Following panelist participation and their stories of vision loss, a
question and answer period will be open to participation by all
attendees. Retired National Football League running back Terrell Davis,
Most Valuable Player in Super Bowl XXXII (1998), a game in which he also
experienced a concussion and temporary blindness, will be in attendance
and present closing comments at the end of the session.
Each of the panelists is legally blind while retaining a minimal
degree of vision. All experienced Traumatic Brain Injury among their
multiple injuries. BVA first became acquainted with them and their
stories when inviting them to attend a BVA national convention as part
of Operation Peer Support, an initiative connecting combat-blinded
veterans of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam with newly blinded veterans
wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, most often by improvised explosive
devices or sniper fire.
The session will open with presenters Ann C. Mckee, MD of Boston
University (Retinal Pathology in Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy);
Randy H. Kardon, MD, PhD of the University of Iowa (Visual Sensory
Impairments and Progression Following Mild Traumatic Brain Injury);
Glenn C. Cockerham, MD, PhD of the Palo Alto Veterans Health Care System
(Afferent Visual Function in Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury); and
Lee E. Goldstein, MD, PhD of Boston University (Traumatic Brain Injury
and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in Athletes, Combat Veterans, and
Experimental Models of Impact and Blast Neurotrauma: Implications for
Ophthalmology and Vision Research).
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 70 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, www.bva.org.