From the Field Staff
By Ed Eckroth
Remembering BVA’s 72nd Anniversary
As at least some of our Bulletin readers are aware, the 72nd anniversary of BVA’s March 28, 1945 founding is fast approaching. This issue of our publication is our last one before that historic day.
Many are probably also aware of the special recognition BVA received seven years ago as we approached the 65th anniversary of the organization. Tom Zampieri, our Director of Government Relations at the time, did considerable legwork and went the extra mile in many ways to make certain that this recognition would be possible.
On April 7 of 2010, President Obama signed House Joint Resolution 80 congratulating BVA on the 65 years of service to blinded veterans. The resolution had been drafted and introduced by then Representative Debbie Halvorson (D-IL-11) in early March and passed the House of Representatives on March 18.
With major assistance from then Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs Chairman Daniel Akaka (D-HI), the resolution was also approved in the full Senate on March 26, the day before Congress adjourned for Easter recess.
Besides acknowledging the Association’s humble beginnings and 65-year history, the resolution also calls upon all Americans to remember “National Blinded Veterans Day” on March 28 in future years.
Former VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki also wrote a letter to Tom Miller, BVA Executive Director at the time, offering “warm best wishes to you and all members of BVA on the occasion of your organization’s 65th anniversary.”
Although as an organization we have commemorated this event rather privately since 2010, we have not openly invited our fellow Americans to remember National Blinded Veterans Day on March 28. We wish to extend our outreach this year by requesting that our BVA regional groups, their chapters, VIST Support Groups, and Board members inform their communities of these unique Congressional resolutions that permanently established Blinded Veterans Day nationally.
Reaching out to the media, government officials, and the public in our local communities may well be an important key to opening the door to locating more of our blinded veterans who are in need of assistance. Some of these could eventually contribute to an increase in our membership ranks.
Stuart Nelson, BVA Manager of Communications, can share electronically or via postal mail a number of helpful resources with those who are interested in contributing to this effort. Included are the aforementioned resolutions, an outline of BVA’s historical achievements, and a sample press release. Please contact him at 202-371-8880 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.