Anticipation Surging for Jacksonville Gathering

by Chelsey Dumond

The BVA 72nd National Convention slated for August 14-18, 2017 is fast approaching. As always, numerous details are needed in order for our attendees to begin planning their trips and weeklong stays in the great city of Jacksonville, Florida.

First and foremost, the member registration packet is currently available for download on the BVA website. It can also be sent by postal mail by request using BVA’s toll free 800-669-7079. The deadline to register is Friday, July 14.

The room rate at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront for BVA members is $91 per night, plus tax. Rooms are filling up quickly. Please reserve yours by calling 904-588-1234. The BVA rate is being offered August 11-21 based on availability.

Several education sessions to be held Monday, August 14, and Tuesday, August 15, are entirely new. We are especially pleased to have BVA members leading these sessions. National Secretary Paul Mimms, for example, will be leading a discussion on Home Automation while Mark Armstrong from the Georgia Regional Group will share his knowledge on Deaf-Blind Communication Skills and Technology. Larry Bustetter of the Southern California Regional Group will lead three intriguing sessions: Dealing with Change to Vision Impairment, Overcoming Communication Challenges for the Visually Impaired, and the ABCs of Strategic Planning for Regional Groups.


Waterway transit via St. John’s River Taxi provides downtown transportation to and from the Hyatt Regency Riverfront Hotel, Friendship Fountain, and the Stadium. The service runs continuously and loops every 30-35 minutes. It also offers cruises. Photo courtesy of Ryan Ketterman for Visit Jacksonville and the Beaches.

Waterway transit via St. John’s River Taxi provides downtown transportation to and from the Hyatt Regency Riverfront Hotel, Friendship Fountain, and the Stadium. The service runs continuously and loops every 30-35 minutes. It also offers cruises. Photo courtesy of Ryan Ketterman for Visit Jacksonville and the Beaches.


The Exhibit Hall, sponsored this year by LS&S and Freedom Scientific /Ai Squared/Optelec, will be open August 15-16. We have several exciting exhibitors already lined up for this year. Designs for Vision will be returning along with Eschenbach Optik, Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the National Library Service, Polara, Sprint, the VA Office of Research and Development, and Wicab. We also welcome a brand new exhibitor, Tampa Lighthouse for the Blind.

For blinded veterans and their families who have contemplated obtaining a service dog, Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, Guide Dogs for the Blind, and Guiding Eyes for the Blind will all be in attendance.


Convention attendees in search of a mix of historic neighborhood homes, quaint shops, and unique dining options may wish to visit the Avondale neighborhood along the banks of the St. Johns River. Photo courtesy of Greg Downing for Visit Jacksonville and the Beaches.

Convention attendees in search of a mix of historic neighborhood homes, quaint shops, and unique dining options may wish to visit the Avondale neighborhood along the banks of the St. Johns River. Photo courtesy of Greg Downing for Visit Jacksonville and the Beaches.


BVA National Headquarters will once again have a convention claims office onsite Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday to check the status of VA claims, assist with new ones, and provide guidance on gathering the necessary information in order to file them. We wish to provide extra service to you and expand our one-stop shop for your convenience. We will be accepting appointments before the convention. If you are interested in making one, please contact Wade Davis at wdavis@bva.org or call him at 202-371-8880, Ext. 308.

Planned offsite trips include a baseball game to see the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, the Double-A Southern League affiliate of the Miami Marlins, and a tour of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. We encourage family members and guests to take an airboat ride with Josh Schrutt of Crazy Fish Tours as recommended by Mike Taylor of the Florida Regional Group. The Jacksonville area also offers great opportunities for a round of golf or exploration of the city through the JAX Ale Trail to sample the local breweries.

Advertisements are still being accepted for the 2017 BVA convention program booklet that will be provided to each convention attendee. Regional groups, other Veterans Service Organizations, and organizations of and for the blind are encouraged to place an ad. Individuals can also share a personalized message with their fellow blinded veterans. Program ads are a great way to show your support and encouragement for all those attending the convention.

Regional groups will receive a special discounted rate of $100 on all full-page ads. In addition to the print version, we intend to offer the booklet in an electronic format this year with Voiceye so that it can be emailed or downloaded from the website for use after the convention. When creating your advertisement, please keep in mind that it will need to be produced in 14-point font or larger with a minimum half-inch margin around the border. Ads may also be created by BVA National Headquarters for an additional fee.

For a full list of advertising and sponsorship opportunities, visit bva.org or contact BVA National Headquarters to receive information via postal mail. All advertisements are due by June 14 and should be paid for in the form of a check made out to the BVA 72nd National Convention. If you have any questions or are interested in purchasing advertisement space in the convention book, please contact Christina Hitchcock (chitchcock@bva.org) or Chelsey Dumond (cdumond@bva.org).

Send in your registration and make your hotel reservations today! We are excited to see you and celebrate together 72 years of blinded veterans helping blinded veterans.


2017 Convention Schedule


Please note that changes may occur prior to the convention.

Monday, August 14

  • Welcome Session
  • Volunteer Service Officer Training
  • Education Sessions
  • Leadership Training
  • Evening Trip to Baseball Game

Tuesday, August 15

  • Welcome Agenda Review
  • Volunteer Service Officer Training
  • Education Sessions
  • Leadership Training
  • Exhibit Hall - Open to All (10am-6pm)
  • Rules & Credentials Committee Meeting
  • BVA President's Reception (included in registration fee)

Wednesday, August 16

  • Opening Session with Keynote Speaker and VA, State, and Local Officials
  • Opening Business Meeting
  • Exhibit Hall -Open to All –(10am-6pm)
  • Field Service Update
  • Legislative Update
  • Bylaws & Resolutions Meeting
  • Special Interest Group Meetings (Service Dog Users, Golf, Women Veterans)

Thursday, August 17

  • BVA Forum
  • Father Carroll Lunch (included in registration fee)
  • Officer Candidate Speeches
  • District Caucus Meetings

Friday, August 18

  • Closing Business Meeting, Bylaws and Resolutions, Elections, Updates on Future Conventions
  • Afternoon Trip to Anheuser-Busch Brewery
  • Leadership Training
  • Awards Banquet

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