by Dale Stamper
This past Veterans Day I again had the good fortune of traveling to Washington, DC to represent BVA at a major event. Cora and I arrived at the White House early in the morning for a breakfast given for the invited leaders of the Veterans Service Organizations. We had our photo taken with President Obama.
Following the breakfast, we were transferred in a shuttle to Arlington National Cemetery for the Presidential wreath laying ceremony. This is always a powerfully moving ceremony and a great honor to be a part of. Most members of the general public were already seated in the Amphitheater waiting for the program to begin while we were led behind it near the President as he presented his own wreath.
With the wreath presentation completed, Cora left me so that she could sit with BVA staff members in the box seats that had been assigned to our organization. I was guided to the stage with the other VSO national leaders.
An amazing thing happened while the President was giving his speech. As background, Cora and I have a friend named Jessa from the Philippines. Jessa works for a nongovernmental organization and is currently stationed in Kurdistan, Iraq. During the speech, I was seated on the dais positioned slightly behind President Obama. Cora was in the BVA box when she received a text from Jessa. Watching the events live on the local CNN affiliate in Iraq, Jessa asked Cora: “Is that Pastor Dale seated on the platform behind the President?” Cora was shocked to receive a text message from someone so far away who was viewing the event in real time.
Technology has most certainly changed all of our lives. Things can be viewed as they take place and comments made about those events just as quickly. I am still amazed at the changes that have taken place in my short lifetime.
In this issue of the BVA Bulletin there is an entry in the Around BVA section about my elk hunting experience (see “Stamper Marksmanship Shortens Weeklong Elk Hunt in Idaho”). I have lived in Idaho much of my adult life and have often eaten elk meat. I have heard many a hunting experience during my time but until recently could enjoy these experiences only vicariously.
Now, however, thanks to a device called an “iScope,” I have had the same experience as other hunters. I literally used my iPhone to make it all possible—lining up a shot accurately and then pulling the trigger.
The iScope patented smartphone scope adapter allows hunters to attach their smartphone directly to the eye piece of their rifle scope. From what I’m told, it allows sighted hunters to look at a targeted area without squinting in one eye and allows use of both eyes. This affects a blind hunter who is depending on a sighted guide who is using the iScope.
Using their smartphone’s camera, sighted guides can see a full screen view of what they would normally see through their scope. This new full screen view allows for easier, safer shooting, better accuracy, and the option of filming a hunt from the eye of the shooter.
The iScope fits the majority of scopes that are sold on the market today. It connects to the scope’s eye piece, up to 48 millimeters, with four felt-tipped screws for a secure mount that won't harm the scope. The iScope is said to be great for rifles, shotguns, pistols, crossbows, Airsoft, and BB guns. It should work with virtually anything that has a scope.
Thanks to the iScope, hunters do not necessarily have to wait to get home in order to see their latest adventure. They can now use their smartphone to aim, shoot, and film their hunts. With the ability to view and share footage filmed directly from the smartphone, social media can be created live in the woods. Hunts can literally be posted online right on the spot.
The iScope is an example of a technological innovation that was not necessarily created for the blind and visually impaired but which we can certainly utilize and from which we can benefit. So it is with so many other advances in the modern world.
I often encourage our younger blinded veterans to take advantage of the benefits and services we have today, compared to the 1960s when I lost my vision. Most of them are already familiar with the latest devices. For older veterans who are not, there is documentation out there that we can still learn what they are and how to use them! Doing so is the road map for making our life experiences more extraordinary than ever before.
As we approach a time of the year that is meant to be joyous and uplifting, I wish for all of our blinded veterans and their families that very enhancement of their quality of life. May we be enriched by innovations such as the iScope but also by the things in life that matter most and which are permanent—our family relationships and our associations one with another through the Blinded Veterans Association. May we enjoy them and treasure them. I wish each of you the best of health and prosperity in the New Year. I wish the same for our beloved BVA.
Dale Stamper, right, and Joe Parker stand with representatives of other VSOs and their organizational wreaths near Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknowns.