REPORT OF BVA 63RD NATIONAL CONVENTION BYLAWS AND RESOLUTIONS COMMITTEE

 

RESOLUTION 1-08

RESOLVED, that the National President shall send letters of appreciation to organizations and individuals contrib­uting to the success of the 63rd National Convention, as well as to other individuals and organizations assisting and supporting BVA during the past year.

RESOLUTION 2-08

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 VIS Teams, THEREFORE BE IT

RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Phoenix, Arizona on this 16th day of August, 2008, hereby strongly urges the Depart­ment of Veterans Affairs to take prompt, positive action to provide funding for Full-Time Coordinators of all remaining VIS Teams 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 VIS Team Coordinators.

RESOLUTION 3-08

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 Phoenix, Arizona, on this 16th day of August, 2008, supports coverage under Medicare and Medicaid programs of vision aids for visually-impaired persons eligible for Medicare and Medicaid.

RESOLUTION 4-08

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 fifteen 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 Phoenix, Arizona, on this 16th day of August, 2008, 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.

RESOLUTION 5-08

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 Phoenix, Arizona, on this 16th day of August, 2008, 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.

RESOLUTION 6-08

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 Phoenix, Arizona, on this 16th day of August, 2008, strongly supports efforts to make currency of the United States tactually identifiable within a reasonable period of time.

RESOLUTION 7-08

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 Phoenix, Arizona, on this 16th day of August, 2008, 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.

RESOLUTION 8-08

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 Phoenix, Arizona, on this 16th day of August, 2008, strongly seek appropriate legislative change to permit veterans simultaneous receipt of disability compensation and military retirement pay without reduction of the retirement pay.

 

RESOLUTION 9-08

WHEREAS, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration has been forced to operate with decremental budgets for years, AND

WHEREAS, the administration proposed in its 1998 thru 2006 fiscal year budget for VA, that Veterans Health Administration appropriations for health care be substituted for by allowing VA to retain collections from third party payers through their Medical Care Cost Recovery program, AND

WHEREAS, this action sends a clear message to the VA and veterans that VA must rely more heavily on revenue sources other than appropriations for funding veterans health care, AND

WHEREAS, the VA has proposed a demonstration project that would allow VA to be reimbursed for medical care provided to certain veterans who have dual eligibility for VA and Medicare,AND

WHEREAS, the design of the demonstration project is a win/win for both veterans and the Medicare Trust Fund; veterans would have increased choices for receiving health care and the Medicare Trust Fund would save money because the VA has agreed to provide care at a discounted rate to Medicare recipients, AND

WHEREAS, the Department of Health and Human Services has agreed to a similar opportunity for the Department of Defense to be reimbursed by Medicare, NOW THEREFORE BE IT

RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Phoenix, Arizona, on this 16th day of August, 2008, strongly urges the VA and Committees on Veterans Affairs in both the Senate and the House, aggressively pursue separate legislation, providing VA with the authority to establish a demonstration project for Medicare Subvention.

RESOLUTION 10-08

WHEREAS, blinded veterans referred to one of the ten VA Regional Blind Rehabilitation Centers (BRCs) for comprehensive residential blind rehab services must travel long distances to receive these rehabilitative services, AND

WHEREAS, certain blinded veterans because of their income level are not eligible for Beneficiary Travel Benefits, AND

WHEREAS, these same blinded veterans are required to pay the Social Security co-payment and daily per diem rates to receive VA residential blind rehabilitation, AND

WHEREAS, these veterans are required to pay their own travel to receive essential rehabilitative services, AND

WHEREAS, the expense of air transportation can be very high and serve as a strong disincentive for the veteran to take advantage of the VA BRC training, AND

WHEREAS, the Network hosting the BRC is reimbursed at the high or complex rate for these blinded veterans, THEREFORE BE IT

RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Phoenix, Arizona, on this 16th day of August, 2008, urges the U.S. Congress to amend Title 38 USC section on Beneficiary Travel requiring VA to pay travel for all veterans accepted for care in one of the VA Special Disabilities Programs.

RESOLUTION 11-08

WHEREAS, new technological improvement in products in the field of Blindness Rehabilitation appear almost daily, AND

WHEREAS, currently, there is no standardized method for BREWS to systematically evaluate, test and review emerging technology,AND

WHEREAS, it is likely that some of these technological innovations will offer benefit to some portion of the blinded veteran population, THEREFORE BE IT

RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Phoenix, Arizona, on this 16th day of August, 2008, strongly urge the Veterans Health Administration and Congress to do the following:
Instruct BRS to formulate and implement an organized method of researching and testing new technological innovations in the field of Blindness Rehabilitation using actual blinded veterans as part of the test for the viability of training and issuance of the new devices to blinded veterans.  The testing procedure should include review of usage of new technology by agencies and organizations dealing with sight loss outside the Department of Veterans Affairs,AND

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED, that VHA explore partnering with the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) Technology Center in Huntington West Virginia to achieve the goals outlined in this resolution.