Blinded Veterans Association Ambassador Program
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Blind Rehabilitation Service (BRS) has identified more than 120,000 blinded veterans and 1.1 million veterans with low vision. A large percentage of these veterans either do not know about BRS or they incorrectly assume that they are not eligible for assistance because their vision loss is not service connected.
BVA Ambassadors are the key liaison between blind and visually impaired veterans and BVA’s Veterans Service Program. They serve in key roles in the dissemination of valuable benefits information and crucial advocacy tips to help make the most of VA benefits for blinded veterans, including access to Visual Impairment Services Teams, Blind Rehabilitation Outpatient Specialists, Vision Impairment Services in Outpatient Rehabilitation programs, Vision Impairment Centers to Optimize Remaining Sight programs, and residential Blind Rehabilitation Centers (BRCs).
BVA Ambassadors are volunteers and serve about 15 hours per week at a VA Blind Center or VA Blind Rehabilitation Outpatient program and accumulate creditable volunteer hours for BVA under the VA Center for Development and Civic Engagement (previously the VA Volunteer Service Program).
Although BVA Ambassadors are not required to be blinded veterans, the latter have certain advantages as they function in their role. The ideal BVA Ambassador candidates are blinded veterans who have successfully completed BRC training and can participate in person, either at a BRC (preferred) or at a VA Blind Outpatient program at their local VA Medical Center. The candidate must be able to set the example for other blinded veterans by functioning independently, demonstrating and applying the skills they acquired through their training.
BVA Ambassador candidates must attend and complete a 28-week training program, pass a written test, and pass a panel interview.
The 28-week Ambassador Training Program is a weekly 60-90 minute Zoom conference meeting with subject matter experts presenting on a variety of related topics, including but not limited to BVA Governance, Government Relations, Membership, Veterans Service Program, VA Compensation & Pension Benefits, VA Appeals, VA Patient Advocate Services, VA Caregiver Program, Special Adaptive Housing Grant Programs, VA Prosthetics, Section 508 Accessibility, VA Burial and Survivor Benefits, Eye Conditions, the VA Center for Development and Civic Engagement (Voluntary Service), Ethics/Responsibilities, and much more!
The panel interview is an opportunity for candidates to apply what they have learned during the training.
Trainees who pass the written test and the panel interview are awarded BVA Ambassador certification and a BVA Ambassador polo shirt. They are also recognized at the subsequent BVA National Convention.
The weekly training beginning July 5, 2022 at 2:00pm EDT is mandatory for those interested in becoming Ambassadors. Attendees from the first round of training are highly encouraged to attend. A registration form is located (HERE), and a calendar of training modules (with Zoom access details) is located (HERE). Registration is open until and including July 1.
For additional information or answers to questions, email Jim Vale at firstname.lastname@example.org.