BVA Announces Jacksonville As 72nd Convention Site


Blinded Veterans and their families may now begin planning to attend the BVA 72nd National Convention in Jacksonville, Florida. The five-day event will convene on Monday, August 14, and culminate on Friday, August 18, 2017.

The specific site of the meetings, social activities, and learning opportunities is the Hyatt Regency in downtown Jacksonville, where the room rate for the convention week will be $91 per night.

Nestled where the St. Johns River meets the Atlantic Ocean, Jacksonville features beautiful beaches, championship golf courses, and milder summer temperatures than those found in major Florida cities to the south.

Jacksonville International Airport is located 15 miles from the Hyatt Regency, which will provide complimentary transportation. Highlights of the city also include the Budweiser Brewery, a casino river cruise opportunity, a Naval Air Station, and two U.S. Navy Bases. The Blount Island Command and the Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, together, form the third largest military presence in the United States. The city has also honors its many veterans with various monuments, including Memorial Park, completed in 1924 to honor World War I veterans. Each Memorial Day a ceremony is held at the Veterans Memorial Wall honoring those who were killed while serving in the Armed Forces.


Downtown Jacksonville is home to more than 50 bars and restaurants and an exciting night life. Photo courtesy of Visit Jacksonville and the Beaches.

Downtown Jacksonville is home to more than 50 bars and restaurants and an exciting night life. Photo courtesy of Visit Jacksonville and the Beaches.


Major events of the convention already scheduled are:
  • Education and Leadership Training—August 14-15
  • National President’s Reception and Dinner—August 15
  • Exhibit Hall—August 15-16
  • Official Business Meetings—August 16-18
  • Father Carroll Memorial Luncheon—August 17

Last year’s Exhibit Hall in Milwaukee was the largest on record with more than 50 exhibitors, including 12 companies that had never previously participated. A special invitation is being extended to all potential exhibitors and sponsors to come to Jacksonville. Blinded veterans who know of a commercial or nonprofit organization supporting the blind and visually impaired community may contact Christina Hitchcock, chitchcock@bva.org, or Chelsey Dumond, cdumond@bva.org, at BVA National Headquarters.

A primary objective for 2017 is outreach to the BVA membership. Please communicate individual and group needs so that education sessions, exhibitors, and sponsors may best suit convention attendees. If there are ways BVA can improve members’ experience at the convention, please communicate that information. Convention organizers are also looking for topics and instructors for various education sessions. Please contact Christina or Chelsey with suggestions.

Registration for the convention will open in May. Hard copy registration packets can be mailed through the United States Postal Service while electronic copies may be sent by email. Again, please contact Christina or Chelsey to communicate your preference. Chelsey can also be contacted regarding BVA merchandise that will be available for purchase prior to the convention.


Formal Official Notice


Pursuant to the provisions of Section 3b of Article IX (National Convention) of the BVA National Bylaws, all members of the Blinded Veterans Association in good standing are hereby notified that the BVA 72nd National Convention will be held at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville, 225 East Coastline Drive, Jacksonville, Florida 32202, from Monday, August 14, through Friday, August 18, 2017.

Periodic updates regarding the convention will be posted regularly to the Convention page on the BVA website.

BVA National Headquarters will host the 72nd National Convention.

BVA members in good standing who wish to vote by proxy may request a special proxy form by writing or calling the Administrative Director at BVA National Headquarters no later than 45 days before the opening day of the 72nd National Convention. Because the convention’s opening day is August 14, the deadline for requesting a proxy form is June 30, 2017.

In compliance with Section 2c of Article IX, the proxy form must be completed and returned to BVA National Headquarters (Attn: Administrative Director). To be considered valid, the envelope containing the form must be postmarked no later than 21 days before the opening date of the convention. The due date is therefore July 24, 2017.


Jones Announces Dates For Required Actions


Administrative Director Brigitte Jones has announced the following schedule of administrative actions that must be accomplished by regional groups and individuals leading up to the opening of the BVA 72nd National Convention in Jacksonville on August 14.

BVA National Headquarters distributed notices during the month of January regarding nominations for Certificates of Appreciation, the Maas and Diener Awards, and the David L. Schnair Volunteer Service Award. These actions also occurred in compliance with articles within the BVA National Bylaws.

A reminder will be mailed to regional group presidents and secretaries on March 20 regarding the due date for submission of bylaw amendments for consideration at the convention. A mailing to all BVA members in good standing and residing in Districts 5 and 6 will also occur on or before March 25 (150 days leading up to August 14). The mailing will call for nominations for District Director.

Three copies of the credentials form will also be mailed on April 15 to all regional groups.

Both regional groups and individuals should refer to the following timeline in preparing for the convention. Items listed include actions required of the Association’s national headquarters, regional groups, and individuals. Questions can be addressed by calling 800-669-7079. Asterisks indicate actions required by the BVA National Bylaws.


A downtown Riverwalk of approximately 3.5 miles welcomes visitors to explore Jacksonville. Photo courtesy of Visit Jacksonville and the Beaches.

A downtown Riverwalk of approximately 3.5 miles welcomes visitors to explore Jacksonville. Photo courtesy of Visit Jacksonville and the Beaches.


  • March 17* (no later than 150 days before convention): Mail call for nomination of Directors of Districts 5 and 6 to members in good standing from each of the two districts (Article VI, Section 3d, also published in March-April BVA Bulletin).
  • March 20*: National headquarters sends reminders to regional group presidents and secretaries that proposed bylaw amendments to be considered at the 72nd National Convention must be postmarked no later than 90 days before the convention (May 16).
  • April 21*: Mail credentials forms to regional group presidents, vice presidents, secretaries, and treasurer (three copies each, Article XIV, Section 12c).
  • April 21*: Nominations for BVA Certificates of Appreciation, the Melvin J. Maas and Irving Diener Awards, and the David L. Schnair Service Award all due at national headquarters.
  • May 5 (no earlier than 100 days before convention): Earliest date to mail pre-registration package and official convention notice to potential attendees. Actual 100-day mark before the convention is May 6, which is a Saturday this year, requiring a May 5 mailing.
  • Mid-May*: 72nd National Convention pre-registration package prepared and sent to printer.
  • Mid-May*: 72nd National Convention proxy forms mailed but only by request to national headquarters Administrative Director.
  • May 17* (no earlier than 90 days before convention): Earliest date to distribute ballots to Districts 5 and 6 (Article VI, Section 3d).
  • May 17 (no later than 90 days before convention): Envelopes containing proposed bylaw amendments must be directed to national headquarters and postmarked (Article XIX, Section 1b).
  • May 17 (no earlier than 90 days before convention): Earliest date to mail proposed bylaw amendments to members in good standing (Article XIX, Section 1b).
  • May 17 (90 days before convention and 60 days following original mail call referred to above): Nominations for regular elections of Directors of Districts 5 and 6.
  • June 1 (no later than 75 days before convention): Latest date to mail pre-registration official convention notice.
  • June 6 (no later than 70 days before convention): Latest date for national headquarters to mail ballots for regular elections of Directors of Districts 5 and 6 (Article VI, Section 3d).
  • June 15*: National headquarters mails annual financial report forms (three copies) to treasurers of regional groups.
  • June 30 (no later than 45 days before convention): Ballots for regular elections of Directors of Districts 5 and 6 due at national headquarters.
  • June 30 (no later than 45 days before convention): Latest date to mail proposed bylaw amendments to members in good standing.
  • July 6 (no later than 40 days before convention): Regional group meeting notices to elect convention delegates must be mailed to group members. A copy of the notice must also be mailed to national headquarters at the same time it is mailed to the group membership.
  • July 11 (35 days before convention): National headquarters counts election ballots for regular elections of Directors of Districts 5 and 6.
  • July 24 (21 days before convention): Completed delegate credentials forms and proxy forms must be postmarked no later than midnight.

Award Submissions Highlight Convention Preparations


This year marks 72 years of “Blinded Veterans Serving Blinded Veterans.” Each year BVA recognizes at the national convention those who have sacrificed and excelled extraordinarily in their lives. Awards include the Major General Melvin J. Maas Award, the Irving Diener Award, the David L. Schnair Award, and Certificates of Appreciation. These awards were established in order to recognize the honor that these individuals brought to the organization and the effort and dedication that were required to do so.

The Major General Melvin J. Maas Achievement Award was initiated by the late Baynard H. Kendrick, a renowned mystery writer and author of Lights Out, the story of a World War II blinded veteran. The award seeks to honor the individual who has contributed to the positive image of the blind community through his/her professional achievement. In honor of Maas, nominations should be individuals who have found success in their employment despite their vision loss and who have also helped other blinded veterans gain independence.

Before his death, Maas was quoted in the New York Times: “A handicapped person who lives up to his potential leads a more successful life than the so‐called normal person who uses only 50 percent of his capabilities.”

Winners of the Maas award are men and women with service connected blindness who have overcome their disability to become independent in their daily living.

The Irving Diener Award was initiated by a former member of the BVA National Advisory Committee who continuously supported BVA. As an individual, Diener sought to empower those who were dedicated to the organization. The award seeks to honor those who have made an outstanding commitment to their BVA regional group and the organization as a whole rather than for their personal achievements in rehabilitation or employment. Diener saw that by recognizing one individual annually he was motivating the membership to focus on the needs of the veterans located closest to them geographically.

World War II blinded veteran David L. Schnair was an early member of BVA and a member of the National Board of Directors for more than 40 years, including Director of District 1. During those same years he was a volunteer at the New York City Regional Office. Today, BVA continues to honor David’s volunteerism through the Volunteer Service Award. Recipients of this award should be exemplary volunteers locally and/or nationally. They should have an understanding of the VA system and serve as a spokesperson for the needs of all blinded veterans.

The Certificate of Appreciation is in place to acknowledge those who have positively influenced the blinded veteran community and the achievements of its members. To be eligible for this award, an individual may not be a BVA member or a relative of a BVA member. The award is limited to those in the field of blind rehabilitation who serve veterans with vision loss.

Nominations for each of the aforementioned awards are currently being accepted. All award nominations are due April 21, 2017. Further information as well as nomination guidelines and criteria, can be found on the BVA website.

Those selected will be honored at the convention. The venue for the Maas, Diener, and Schnair Awards is the Friday Awards Banquet, the culminating event of the convention week. The Awards Banquet also recognizes the regional groups who have earned the Gold, Silver, and Bronze Gavels for the past fiscal year.

Certificates of Appreciation are awarded at the Thursday Father Thomas Carroll Memorial Luncheon following the event’s keynote address.


Convention Resolution Raises Registration Fee


Resolution 21-16, approved by the BVA membership at the 71t National Convention’s Closing Business Session last August 26, raised the convention registration fee from $100 to $120, effective in 2017.

Additional references to the increase will be included in the upcoming convention’s registration packet and in future issues of The Bulletin.

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