BVA Mourns Passing of Prominent Arkansas Member (1/18/2017) 
   BVA Mourns Passing of Prominent Arkansas Member

BVA Mourns Passing of Prominent Arkansas Member


ALEXANDRIA, VA (January 18, 2017) -- The Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) National Headquarters and its membership at large throughout the country extend condolences to the family and loved ones of longtime BVA Life Member and Army veteran George W. Myers of St. Vincent, Arkansas. He passed away January 12, 2017.

In addition to his service to the BVA Arkansas Regional Group in several capacities, he participated in local school and community events as a representative of the Association, often making financial contributions to such events on behalf of the national organization and regional group. George was also a mainstay at BVA national conventions, having attended each of the gatherings during the past 11 year. He was continually expressing thanks to staff members for their work with kind words and other tokens of generosity.

Born February 26, 1947, in Morrilton, Arkansas, he was the son of the late Henry M. Myers and Catherine E. Beck Myers. George worked as a telecommunications agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation before multiple tours in Vietnam. Following his Army service he worked as a Cable Splicer for Southwestern Bell. George was a member of St. Mary Catholic Church and a 4th degree Knight of Columbus.

Survivors include his sons, Timothy "Timmy" Cody Myers and wife Eleise Wood Myers of Conway, and George William "Billy" Myers II of Conway; brother, Harold (Debbie) Myers of St. Vincent; sisters, Terrie King of Jacksonville, Kathy Mayhew of Crossett, Edna (Ronnie) Hill of Morrilton; granddaughter, Penelope Kate Myers of Conway; his son's mother, Betty Jo Myers of Conway. Other than his parents he was preceded in death by a son, Anthony "Tony" Coby Myers and a brother, Henry Michael Myers II.

Funeral mass was January 17 at St. Mary Catholic Church with Deacon Steve Mallett and Father Jim Burnie officiating. Burial was at St. Mary Cemetery by Harris Funeral Home of Morrilton.


 National Blinded Veterans Day March 28 Recognizing 72nd Anniversary (1/18/2017) 
   National Blinded Veterans Day March 28 Recognizing 72nd Anniversary

National Blinded Veterans Day March 28 Recognizing 72nd Anniversary


Warm Greetings and Happy New Year to BVA Regional Group Officers, Staff, Board Members, and Chapter Officers.

On April 7 of 2010, President Obama signed House Joint Resolution 80 congratulating BVA on its 65th anniversary. The resolution had been drafted and introduced by then Representative Debbie Halvorson (D-IL-11) in early March and passed the House of Representatives on March 18.

With major assistance from then Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs Chairman Daniel Akaka (D-HI), the resolution was also approved in the full Senate on March 26, the day before Congress adjourned for Easter recess.

Besides acknowledging the Association’s humble beginnings and 65-year history, the resolution also calls upon all Americans to remember “National Blinded Veterans Day” on March 28 in future years.

Former Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Eric K. Shinseki also wrote a letter to Tom Miller, BVA Executive Director at the time, offering “warm best wishes to you and all members of BVA on the occasion of your organization’s 65th anniversary.”

Secretary Shinseki continued: “On behalf of the Department, and as a fellow veteran, thank you for your service from a grateful nation and for the inspiration your membership has given to all who serve in the defense of freedom. Happy Anniversary and best wishes for many more years of success representing blinded veterans.”

Although as an organization we have commemorated this event from within and rather privately since 2010, we have not invited our fellow Americans to remember National Blinded Veterans Day on March 28. We wish to extend our outreach this year by inviting our BVA regional groups, their chapters, VIST Support Groups, and Board members to inform their communities of these unique Congressional resolutions that permanently established Blinded Veterans Day nationally on March 28, the day of our founding in 1945.

Please click here to find attached a number of supporting documents to assist in this effort, among them Blinded Veterans Day March 28 Proclamation.docx. This is perhaps the most significant of all of the documents as it provides specific suggestions to you, our members and constituents, with a sample resolution that could be issued or passed by a local legislative body anywhere in the country. We have also included a sample press release with an open paragraph filled with “x’s” in which local information can be inserted, copies of both the House and Senate resolutions passed in 2010, and two documents that outline BVA’s achievements. Although both of the achievement documents communicate similar ideas, one of the two documents lists BVA’s accomplishments in bullet form and the other document is a narrative history. If the press release is used, local groups may wish to use a local contact rather than Stuart Nelson.

Thank you very much for your collaboration in this effort to celebrate and commemorate BVA’s long history of service to our Nation’s blinded veterans. Please contact any one of us if you have any questions.


Paul Mimms, National Secretary

Dr. Thomas Zampieri, Director District 6

Stuart Nelson, Manager of Communications


 Blinded Veterans Look Forward to New Progress at VA Under Shulkin (1/11/2017) 
   Blinded Veterans Look Forward to New Progress at VA Under Shulkin

Blinded Veterans Look Forward to New Progress at VA Under Shulkin


Alexandria, VA (January 11, 2017)—Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) Executive Director Al Avina today responded to the appointment of Dr. David J. Shulkin, current Under Secretary for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), as he assumes his role as the newly appointed Secretary of the cabinet-level department.

“Dr. Shulkin has most certainly demonstrated a thorough knowledge of and commitment to the veteran disability community, including that of the full continuum of care through VA services for veterans with vision loss,” Avina said. “BVA looks forward to continuing its already successful relationship with Dr. Shulkin in his new leadership role as we collaborate on additional issues, and on perhaps new levels of understanding, in support of America’s blind and visually impaired veterans.”

The appointment requires confirmation by the United States Senate, which previously confirmed him unanimously as Under Secretary for Health in June 2015. As Under Secretary, Shulkin has directed the work of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the nation’s largest integrated health care system with more than 1,700 sites of care and serving 8.76 million veterans each year.

Prior to being nominated by President Obama for his VHA appointment, Shulkin served in numerous chief executive roles, including that of President of Morristown Medical Center, Goryeb Children’s Hospital, and Atlantic Rehabilitation Institute. He also served as President and CEO of Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City and as Chief Medical Officer of the University of Pennsylvania Health System, Temple University Hospital, and the Medical College of Pennsylvania Hospital.

Shulkin recently addressed members of BVA at the Association’s 71st National Convention during the convention’s traditional Thursday forum August 25, 2016. His presentation described 25 ways in which VA is leading in U.S. health care, emphasizing the well-rounded nature of VA care and the comprehensive definition of the term “health.” He also cited various research studies demonstrating that VA outperforms its private sector counterparts.

Chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1958, BVA is the only Veterans Service Organization exclusively dedicated to serving the needs of the nation’s blinded veterans and their families. The Association was founded in 1945 in Avon, Connecticut, by a group of approximately 100 World War II veterans blinded during their service.


 Veterans Inaugural Ball - Salute to Heroes (12/19/2016) 
   

42 Medal of Honor recipients will attend Veterans Inaugural Ball - Salute to Heroes


WASHINGTON, December 19, 2016 — The American Legion and the Veterans Inaugural Committee will pay tribute to 42 Medal of Honor recipients and newly sworn in President Donald Trump during the Veterans Inaugural Ball - Salute to Heroes on January 20, 2017. The evening will feature a special performance by Rascal Flatts lead vocalist Gary LeVox, joined by songwriters Neil Thrasher and Wendell Mobley, presented by Songs for Sound.

“The Price is Right” host and comedian Drew Carey, who served in the Marine Corps Reserves, will emcee the event at the Renaissance Washington DC, Downtown Hotel. Since 1953, at the request of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Veterans Inaugural Ball - Salute to Heroes has provided an opportunity for the newly sworn in commander in chief to personally pay tribute to Medal of Honor recipients.

Guests at the Veterans Inaugural Ball will also include senior military officers, elected and government officials, celebrities, corporate citizens and other members of the Armed Forces. LeVox is participating in the evening’s events as part of his support of Songs for Sound, a supporter of The American Legion that works to enrich the lives of veterans through hearing loss detection and treatment.

“The American Legion is honored to lead the efforts for the Veterans Inaugural Ball - Salute to Heroes,” said Charles E. Schmidt, National Commander, The American Legion. “We are humbled to have 42 Medal of Honor recipients in attendance to celebrate the peaceful transition of governmental power on Inauguration Day. To have entertainers like Gary LeVox and Drew Carey is very exciting for everyone.”

American Airlines is the premier corporate sponsor for the event, joined by UPS which is sponsoring the dinner. The ball is hosted by The American Legion and organized by the Veterans Inaugural Committee. The committee is comprised of 15 congressionally chartered veterans service organizations including The American Legion, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Vietnam Veterans of America, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Blinded Veterans Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the US, The Congressional Medal of Honor Society, AMVETS, The Retired Enlisted Association, Disabled American Veterans, Marine Corps League, Non Commissioned Officers Association, Reserve Officers Association, Jewish War Veterans of the USA, and American Ex-Prisoners of War. More information about the Veterans Inaugural Ball - Salute to Heroes can be found at www.Legion.org/veteransball.

About The American Legion

With a current membership of 2.2 million wartime veterans, The American Legion was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism and youth programs. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through more than 13,000 posts across the nation.


 VA and SSA Partner To Speed Up Disability Decisions For Veterans (11/9/2016) 
   VA and SSA Partner To Speed Up Disability Decisions For Vets

VA and SSA Partner To Speed Up Disability Decisions For Veterans


WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) launched a new Health IT initiative that enables VA to share medical records electronically with social security disability processors. This secure process will save time and money resulting in better service for Veterans and dependents who apply for social security disability benefits. The SSA requests nearly 15 million medical records from health care organizations yearly to make medical decisions on about three million disability claims. For decades, SSA obtained medical records through a manual process. This new national initiative puts in place an automated process to obtain Veterans’ medical records entirely electronically.

“VA’s partnership with Social Security will ultimately improve the quality of life for Veterans and their dependents by enabling Veterans to share their health information within a safe and secure health-related consumer application,” said Dr. David Shulkin, VA’s Under Secretary for Health.

The joint venture is expected to significantly speed up social security disability decisions, utilizing VA’s VLER Health Exchange under the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) Program. The VLER Health Exchange gives VA and participating community providers the ability to retrieve Veterans’ health information from each other for the purpose of treatment. Currently, VLER Health Exchange shares health data with over 79 community health care partners, representing 775 Hospitals, 427 Federally Qualified Health Centers, 142 Nursing Homes, 8441 Pharmacies and over 11,969 Clinics. The SSA now has access for the purpose of processing benefits for Veterans and their dependents.

"This SSA-VA partnership is another example of VA’s leadership in interoperability efforts among federal partners,” said VA Secretary, Robert McDonald. “Increasing federal partnerships to improve operation and resource coordination across agencies is among VA’s 12 Breakthrough Priorities for 2016.”

VA has partnership agreements with Health and Human Services (HHS), Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Treasury (DOT) among many others.

To learn more about VA health care visit: www.va.gov/health


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