REPORT OF BVA 61ST NATIONAL CONVENTION BYLAWS AND RESOLUTIONS COMMITTEE
RESOLVED, that the National President shall send letters of appreciation to those organizations and individuals contributing to the success of the 61st National Convention, as well as to other individuals and organizations assisting and supporting BVA during the past year.
WHEREAS, the Visual Impairment Service Team (VIST) approach to service delivery was established in 1967 to provide much needed outreach services to blinded veterans, AND
WHEREAS, because of staffing and funding problems, these services have not been provided to all eligible blinded veterans, or in equal proportions, AND
WHEREAS, the VIST Coordinator is the TEAM member responsible for initiating aggressive outreach activities and the timely delivery of comprehensive services, AND
WHEREAS, in several stations, VIST Coordinators have other responsibilities in addition to the VISTs, thus precluding the provision of needed services to all eligible veterans, AND
WHEREAS, the quality and quantity of services are directly dependent upon the amount of time that the Coordinator has to devote to this assignment and upon that person's knowledge and motivation to provide the needed services, AND
WHEREAS, in some stations these services have been even further eroded by decisions made by supervisors regarding the selection, placement and changing of Coordinators, AND
WHEREAS, it is understood that direct funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs Central Office has been provided to such programs as: alcohol abuse, drug abuse, day treatment centers, spinal cord injury centers, etc., AND
WHEREAS, more efficient and timely services could be provided to eligible blinded veterans if a similar approach was taken to the funding of Full-Time Coordinators for VISTs, THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Buffalo, NY on this 19th day of August, 2006, hereby strongly urges the Department of Veterans Affairs to take prompt, positive action to provide funding for Full-Time Coordinators of all remaining VISTs presently not so funded in the Department of Veterans Affairs system, AND BE IT FURTHER
RESOLVED, that the Director of Blind Rehabilitation Service, Department of Veterans Affairs Headquarters, should concur in the selection, placement and assignment of staff personnel filling the positions of VIST Coordinators.
WHEREAS, visual impairments are the third most prevalent factor in limiting the activities of individuals, AND
WHEREAS, the prevalence of visual impairments of those aged 65 and over is eight times the rate for those under 65, and 50 percent of all visually-impaired persons in the United States are over the age of 65, AND
WHEREAS, 70-80 percent of individuals over age 65 currently classified as legally blind can be helped to perform daily living functions by low vision or vision rehabilitation services, AND
WHEREAS, financial resources are often a key factor in receiving such assistance, AND
WHEREAS, under current law, vision rehabilitation services and aids for the blind are excluded from coverage by Medicare or Medicaid, THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in Convention Assembled in Buffalo, NY on this 19th day of August 2006, supports coverage under Medicare and Medicaid programs of vision aids for visually-impaired persons eligible for Medicare and Medicaid.
WHEREAS, federal funding for stipends and fellowships for students in personnel training programs to be teachers of the visually handicapped, orientation and mobility instructors, rehabilitation teachers, and counselors for the blind have been reduced each year since 1976, AND
WHEREAS, the reduction of funding has caused many professional preparation programs to reduce faculty positions, has closed many programs, and has frustrated development of high caliber personnel, AND
WHEREAS, these reductions in funds have forced the programs to reduce the number of students accepted, and the reduction in stipends has made it difficult to recruit applicants for study in numbers equal to program capacity, AND
WHEREAS, the incidence of blindness and visual impairment is expected to dramatically increase over the next 15 years, while the number of qualified graduates continues to decrease, AND
WHEREAS, the shortage of qualified professionals in work with blind persons has in some instances caused a shift to service provision by persons with general education who have no knowledge of the unique needs of blind persons, AND
WHEREAS, the only certain means of assuring stipends and fellowships for students to alleviate the shortage is through categorical funding, THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Buffalo, NY on this 19th day of August, 2006, urges the U.S. Congress to enact legislation to fund categorical programs for professional preparation of education and rehabilitation personnel serving people who are severely visually impaired and blind, AND FURTHER BE IT
RESOLVED, that BVA encourage the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Academic Affairs to explore partnering with University Preparation Programs to assure an adequate supply of professionally trained Vision Rehabilitation specialists.
WHEREAS, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in July 1990, AND
WHEREAS, blind and visually impaired individuals historically have experienced extreme difficulty in finding meaningful employment or advancing beyond entry level positions when employment is found, AND
WHEREAS, the provisions of ADA require reasonable accommodations for disabled persons, AND
WHEREAS, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employs disabled people, many of whom are blind or severely visually-impaired, THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Buffalo, NY on this 19th day of August, 2006, urges VA to insure that all visually impaired and blind employees have reasonable accommodations, including necessary training on essential access technology, AND FURTHER BE IT
RESOLVED, that VA establish an aggressive outreach program to hire more disabled individuals, especially disabled veterans.
WHEREAS, currency is used by virtually everyone in everyday life including blind and visually-impaired persons, AND
WHEREAS, the currency of the United States is, at the present time, impossible to identify without vision or electric device, AND
WHEREAS, most blind and visually impaired persons are therefore required to rely upon others to determine denominations of such currency, AND
WHEREAS, this constitutes a serious impediment to independence in everyday living, AND
WHEREAS, electronic means of bill identification will always have more potential for fallibility than purely tactile means, AND
WHEREAS, readily identifiable currency is consistent with the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act, AND
WHEREAS, a suitable method of visual identification has been introduced for visually-impaired persons, AND
WHEREAS, no tactile means of identifying currency has yet been developed or introduced; THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Buffalo, NY on this 19th day of August, 2006, strongly supports efforts to make currency of the United States tactually identifiable within a reasonable period of time.
WHEREAS, members of the Armed Forces of the United States of America are on duty 24 hours a day and may be subject to multiple hazards, hostile environments and unknown health conditions as a matter of course during their tours of duty in the Department of Defense, THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, the Blinded Veterans Association in Convention assembled in Buffalo, NY on this 19th day of August, 2006, that these veterans shall not be innocent victims of indiscriminate budget-cutting efforts by attempting to change the method for service-connected compensation for injury or disease to performance of duty; AND BE IT FURTHER
RESOLVED, that the current line of duty approach shall remain as the standard applied to veterans claims.
WHEREAS, nonpayment of both retirement pay and veterans disability is an injustice to the veteran, AND
WHEREAS, retirement pay is for the time served in any military branch, AND
WHEREAS, veterans disability compensation is for a disability or injury while on active duty, NOW THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, the Blinded Veterans Association in Convention Assembled in Buffalo, NY on this 19th day of August, 2006, strongly seek appropriate legislative change to permit veterans’ simultaneous receipt of disability compensation and military retirement pay without reduction of the retirement pay.