REPORT OF BVA 71ST NATIONAL CONVENTION BYLAWS AND RESOLUTIONS COMMITTEE


RESOLUTION 1-16

RESOLVED, that the National President shall send letters of appreciation to those organizations and individuals contributing to the success of the 71st National Convention, as well as to those other individuals and organizations assisting and supporting the BVA during the past year.

RESOLUTION 2-16

WHEREAS, fundamental to the comprehensive rehabilitation of veterans who are severely visually impaired or blind is the development of wholesome and healthy attitudes about blindness, the acquisition of adaptive skills to overcome the handicap of blindness and reintegration into the family and community, AND
WHEREAS, the Department of Veterans Affairs ((VA) pioneered the comprehensive residential Blind Rehabilitation Center (BRC) approach to the delivery of such comprehensive services to facilitate adjustment to and acceptance of sudden and traumatic loss of vision, AND
WHEREAS, the VA BRC model has evolved to include the comprehensive rehabilitation of veterans whose visual impairment and blindness may be associated with aging, AND
WHEREAS, the VA is internationally recognized as the premier provider of comprehensive blind rehabilitation services, AND
WHEREAS, non-VA blind rehabilitation programs have recently begun to seek referral of visually impaired and blinded veterans away from VA Blind Rehabilitation Services (BRS) in an effort to obtain VA contract funding, AND
WHEREAS, America’s visually impaired and blinded veterans have earned the right to have access to the highest quality blind rehabilitation services available, AND
WHEREAS, only in rare instances would referral to a non VA BRC be appropriate, THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association in convention assembled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on this 26th day of August, 2016, request that visually impaired and blinded veterans only be referred to VA BRC’s for comprehensive residential blind rehabilitation services, THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER
RESOLVED, that should it ever be necessary to refer a visually impaired or blinded veteran to a non-VA facility, that non-VA facility should be accredited by either the National Accreditation Council (NAC) for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped or the Commission for Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), and should employ Blind Rehabilitation Specialists Certified by the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP).

RESOLUTION 3-16

WHEREAS, current law provides that service connected veterans rated less than 50 percent who retire from the Armed Forces on length of service do not receive disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in addition to full military retired pay, AND
WHEREAS, these disabled veterans must therefore surrender retired pay in an amount equal to the disability compensation they receive, AND
WHEREAS, this offset is unfair to veterans who have served faithfully in military careers inasmuch as these veterans have earned their retired pay by virtue of their long service to the Nation and wholly apart from disabilities due to military service, NOW THEREFORE BE IT 
RESOLVED that the Blinded Veterans Association in convention assembled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on this 26th day of August, 2016, supports legislation to repeal the offset between military longevity retired pay and VA disability compensation.

RESOLUTION 4-16

WHEREAS, blinded veterans referred to one of the thirteen (13) VA Regional Blind Rehabilitation Centers (BRC) 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 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 Milwaukee, Wisconsin on this 26th day of August, 2016, urges the U.S. Congress to amend Title 38 USC section on Beneficiary Travel requiring VA to pay travel for all veterans meeting the VA definition of catastrophically disabled, and that they be accepted for care in one of the VA Special-Disabilities Programs and request that VHA support this change for catastrophically disabled veterans as legislative requested to Congress in 2016.

RESOLUTION 5-16

WHEREAS, U.S. Military Operations in Afghanistan (OEF) and Iraq (OIF) have resulted in numerous eye injured casualties, AND
WHEREAS, DoD reports Post 9/11 197,000 worldwide eye injuries since October 2001 and VHA Office Public Health reports enrollment between Qtr. 2 of FY 2002 through FY 2015; (201,980) veterans enrolled with eye disorders/ injuries and/or TBI visual dysfunction conditions including 39,908 unique OEF/OIF/OND, AND
WHEREAS,Congress has mandated the establishment of the DOD /VA Vision Center Excellence (VCE) and that it shall include a joint Defense Veterans Eye Injury Vision Registry (DVEIVR) to be used to develop best practices, inform clinical policy, guide vision research, facilitate studies and clinical education; facilitate clinical care delivery and coordination including vision rehabilitation,AND
WHEREAS, the mandate requires compilation of a comprehensive, longitudinal, patient centered medical record for each Post 9/11 service member detailing information such as medical and surgery interventions, diagnosis, treatments, clinical outcomes, eye notes, coordinated rehabilitation services, which is to be entered into the DVEIVR by DOD and VHA credentialed personnel, and that information in the DVEIVR will be made available to DoD and VHA credentialed providers to facilitate clinical care coordination including vision rehabilitation, AND
WHEREAS, the VCE Director reported to the BVA Board in August 2016 that records for 26,000 unique service members with eye injuries and /or visual dysfunction disorders have been entered as of August 15, 2014 while VHA has entered 800 "test" veterans records into the DVEIVR, and Is now contracting for the development/upgrade of a parallel VA “Eye Injury Data Store”(EIDS) resulting in higher costs, duplication, with risk of a unique separate VHA Registry with fewer or incompatible clinical data fields, which may cause additional prolonged delays in fully developed patient centered integrated clinical registry records reflecting care received from both the DoD and VA providers in DVEIVR THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association in convention assembled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on this 26th day of August, 2016, strongly urges the DoD and VA to immediately fully implement the mandated joint VCE DVEIVR and further urges VHA to enter the medical, surgical, and rehabilitative clinical records of all OIF/OEF/OND veterans with eye injuries or with visual system dysfunction, in a manner that will ensure immediate and full interoperability with the existing VCE DVEIVR entered data to develop best practices, inform clinical policy, guide vision research, facilitate studies and clinical education, facilitate proactive clinical care delivery and care coordination including vision rehabilitation, by providing decision support and patient reports, and by providing trend analysis, population views, benchmarks and quality reporting AND FURTHER BE IT 
RESOLVED, that BVA urges the Secretary of VA to ensure sufficient funding and staffing necessary to fully support the capability of the mandated DVEIVR to meet the requirements and the intent of Congress when it established the Vision Center of Excellence.

RESOLUTION 6-16

WHEREAS, the Rehabilitation Act has been in effect since 1973, AND
WHEREAS, the Rehabilitation Act requires that agencies of the federal government make such modifications in programs and policies as necessary to allow full participation by people with disabilities, AND 
WHEREAS, this law applies to employment offered by federal agencies and requires that those agencies make reasonable efforts to accommodate people with disabilities within their workforces, 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 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 Milwaukee, Wisconsin on this 26th day of August, 2016, urges the VA to insure that all visually-impaired and blind employees have reasonable accommodations, including necessary training on essential access technology.

RESOLUTION 7-16

WHEREAS, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is currently authorized to provide transportation to VA appointments for veterans confined to wheelchair and those who require transportation by ambulance, AND
WHEREAS, Veterans Transportation Service has active plans to expand healthcare access for veterans. It has expanded the Veteran Transportation Network which is now active at eighty-seven (87) VA sites. A mobility manager who coordinates scheduling as well as identifying and joining with community partners is in place in facilities as the program expands. The program is also working closely with VA’s Office of Rural Health to improve the network of transportation services that connect rural veterans and those veterans who, because of disability or infirmity, need transportation assistance to access VA services. This service provides for continuity of care for those physically infirm or disabled Veterans who often have complex medical conditions requiring healthcare services, AND
WHEREAS, blind veterans have significant problems with obtaining transportation to VA appointments, AND
WHEREAS, the disability of blindness causes significant barriers in transportation similar to those who must use a wheelchair. VA proposed legislation to extend a recently enacted provision, 38 USC   111A that authorized VA to transport any person to or from a VA facility or other place in connection with vocational rehabilitation or counseling required by the Secretary pursuant to Chapter 34 or 35 of Title 38 or for the purpose of examination, treatment or care, AND
WHEREAS, this authority was enacted in January 2103 under Public Law 112-260, Section 202 of the Dignified Burial and Other Veterans’ Benefits Improvement Act of 2012 and expires one year after the data of enactment. This proposal is supported by BVA and would extend the VA authority for an additional five years, THEREFORE BE IT 
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association in convention assembled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on this 26th day of August, 2016, request that the VA Veterans Travel Program (VTP) in conjunction with VHA ensures that blindness be included as a justification for VA to authorize transportation to local VA appointments when appropriate by VA mobility personnel and that VA vans, public transportation, DAV vans, or other contracted services be utilized to ensure all blinded veterans have access to local VA outpatient care and services. 

RESOLUTION 8-16

WHEREAS, these veterans who utilize the services of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are blind or visually impaired, AND
WHEREAS, these veterans receive vital correspondence including, but not limited to information about their benefits, appointment reminders, surgical preparation and treatment instructions only in standard print, which they cannot read AND
WHEREAS, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, PL. 93-122, requires federal agencies to make their programs and services, including communications, accessible to people with disabilities, THEREFORE BE IT 
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association in convention assembled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on this 26th day of August, 2016, urges the Department of Veterans Affairs to insure that efforts to modernize the VA’s IT and communications infrastructure provide VA Central Office as well as VA hospitals, medical centers and other facilities nationwide with the capability to send correspondence and other currently written communications to veterans with visual impairments in accessible formats, including but not limited to braille, large print, e-mail, and audio format, AND BE IT FURTHER
RESOLVED, that this organization urges the VA to insure all web content posted by the VA and its facilities is compliant with Section 508 accessibility standards, AND FINALLY BE IT
RESOLVED, that this organization requests that the VA dedicate specific funding streams to Section 508 compliance separate from general IT operational funding and increase staffing of Section 508 compliance efforts to allow timely evaluation and technical assistance be provided to those developing and managing content for VA’s internet and intranet websites beginning with those 20 sites that have been identified by VA as used most frequently by veterans.

RESOLUTION 9-16

WHEREAS, VA is facing a potential shortage of highly qualified health care professionals as the result of the high percentage of “Boomers near retirement”, AND
WHEREAS, VHA Blind Rehabilitation Service (BRS) is also confronting the potential loss of a large percentage of its workforce, AND 
WHEREAS, the NPC positions are critical in providing education, training and oversight for full-time Visual Impairment Service Team (VIST) Coordinators and Blind Rehabilitation Outpatient Specialists (BROS), AND 
WHEREAS, many long time VIST Coordinators are retiring and many new BROS positions have been established, AND 
WHEREAS, the need for the NPC positions is even more critical, AND 
WHEREAS, Veteran Integrated Service Networks (VISN) and Facilities are reluctant to fill vacant positions, THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association in convention assembled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on this 26th day of August, 2016, strongly urge the Under Secretary of Health to require Network and Facility Directors to begin recruitment and training programs for succession for VIST, BROS, and other vision rehabilitation staff, and continue to fill the NPC positions in a more timely matter.

RESOLUTION 10-16

WHEREAS, the VA established a policy prohibiting national training programs of more than fifty personnel, AND
WHEREAS, the VA Blind Rehabilitation Service has conducted a national training program for Visual Impairment Team Coordinators (VIST) and Blind Rehabilitation Outpatient Specialist (BROS) for twenty years in conjunction with the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) National Convention, AND
WHEREAS, VA Blind Rehabilitation Service has expanded services to visually impaired and blinded veterans over those years, AND
WHEREAS, many professionals hired by the Blind Rehabilitation Service to provide high quality comprehensive services to America’s visually impaired and blinded veterans are new to the VA Healthcare system, AND
WHEREAS, national training is essential to ensure these professionals possess appropriate competencies to deliver high quality services, AND
WHEREAS, VA economically benefits from holding this national training program in conjunction with BVA’s National Convention, AND
WHEREAS, at least one third of VA Blind Rehabilitation Service professionals are eligible for retirement, AND
WHEREAS, failure to provide adequate training for new hires unfamiliar with the VA Healthcare system will result in visually impaired and blinded veterans not receiving essential services, THEREFORE BE IT 
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association in convention assembled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on this 26th day of August, 2016, urges the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs to reinstate the Blind Rehabilitation (VIST and BROS) national training program to continue on an annual basis.

Resolutions 11-21