Travis' Story

 

Travis Fugate

Travis is one of the many blinded veterans BVA has been helping since his devastating injury when he was hit in the face with an IED, while on a routine mission south of Baghdad in 2005. He still had some remaining vision one eye. According to Travis, “I could still see colors, shapes, large print and shadows. I could see which girls were pretty and which ones weren’t.”


He had enrolled in classes at community college in his home state of Kentucky, and he was active with many disabled sporting events and programs. He also had the chance to meet other injured Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans at BVA’s national convention in August 2007, and the experience left an imprint on him.

 

Travis was also among the blinded veterans who came to BVA headquarters in Washington, DC in November 2008. Travis was deeply honored by the gesture and all the Veterans Day events he attended in Washington.  He returned home to Kentucky in great spirits, inspired by his visit to BVA and by the national outpouring of support for veterans like him.


Unfortunately, later that year he developed a frontal sinus infection above his left eye. His sinus symptoms worsened, and he reported his vision was getting worse, too.  At some point, Travis lost all remaining vision in his left eye, leaving this young former soldier completely blind in both eyes.

In January of 2009, Travis called Blinded Veterans Association and told us what had happened with his left eye. BVA urged him to immediately fly to Walter Reed Medical Center for assessment, which, thankfully, he did. The day after admission, Travis underwent five hours of retinal surgery to correct a detached retina.


Then in February, Travis returned from two weeks at home, and had another retinal detachment that required further surgery, and in March he had more emergency retinal surgery.


Now that Travis has no vision in either eye, the first thing BVA did was help him apply for and obtain blind rehabilitation.  He went to the Hines VA Blind Center in Chicago in 2009, for a several-week-long intensive program that taught him how to do everything all over again, starting from scratch.  Every blinded veteran who has undergone blind rehabilitation has said it made a huge difference in their lives, and it did the same for Travis.


And despite all he has suffered, Travis still says that he would do it all over again – from enlisting in the Army National Guard to serving in Iraq.