red, white, and blue star with initials B V A

BVA’s Awards Program honors annually the extraordinary professional achievements of blinded veterans and the dedicated service they offer one another. The program also recognizes both the professionals and volunteers who go the extra mile in serving and supporting veterans and their families.

The Major General Melvin J. Maas Award for Professional Achievement recognizes and honors annually a blinded veteran with service-connected blindness who has attained a high level of proficiency in adjusting to life without sight, and who has achieved a high level of professional success and accomplishment in a chosen career field. The purpose of the award is the positive enhancement of the public image of blind persons and the elimination of the notion of dependence
among blinded veterans.

 

The storied career of Major General Maas, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, included service in both 20th century World Wars and 16 years in the Minnesota delegation of the U.S. House of Representatives. During the final phase of the Battle of Milne Bay at the beginning of September 1942, Major General Maas volunteered as an observer for a reconnaissance mission on a bomber aircraft. During the eight-hour flight, he helped disable enemy airdrome and participated in the dropping of food and supplies to the isolated U.S. Army outpost. For his efforts during the mission, he was decorated by the Army with the Silver Star.

 

Major General Maas suffered facial wounds in the 98-day Battle of Okinawa in 1945 that eventually left him totally blind in 1951. Shortly thereafter, he joined BVA and in 1953 was elected National Vice President. He was elected National President in 1960, serving for one year. He was a member of the President’s Committee on Employment of the Physically Handicapped for 15 years, 10 of those as Chairman of the Committee from 1953 until the time of his death in 1964.

 

Nominations must include the following:

  • A cover letter introducing the candidate and the party submitting the nomination
  • A biographical sketch of the nominee
  1. Military experience
  2. Education
  3. Work experience
  4. Honors, if any
  5. Professional organizations
  6. Hobbies/Pastimes
  7. Additional comments or amplifying data that may help in evaluating achievements
  • A detailed outline of professional activities and success (why this veteran is deserving of the Maas Award)
  1. Is the veteran totally blind or partially sighted?
  2. Are there additional disabilities?
  3. What does he/she do in an average day?
  4. How much help does the veteran receive in performing his/her work?
  5. Is the help provided of a nature specifically required by anyone performing the same job?
  6. How has the candidate excelled in the job?
  7. Was the job secured through personal effort or was the veteran placed by VA or another agency?
  8. How did the veteran obtain the training to perform the job?
  9. Outline in detail the veteran’s attitude toward the disability.
  10. Outline in detail the veteran’s attitude towards sighted people.
  11. Outline in detail the veteran’s active participation in local community life, civic organizations, etc.

An individual may receive the Maas Award only once. BVA employees, even if they are members of the Association, are not eligible for the award. There is no limit to the number of nominations a BVA member can submit.

 

Please submit nominations, postmarked on or before the final Friday in April, to:
Blinded Veterans Association
Attn: Administrative Director
1101 King Street, Suite 300
Alexandria, VA 22314

 

Apply Online

 

The recipient of the Maas Award receives a complimentary registration to the national convention at which the recognition is to be presented, as well as a modest stipend.

 

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The Irving Diener Award recognizes and honors annually the BVA member with the most outstanding contribution to the growth and development of his/her regional group apart from personal achievements or endeavors. Members throughout the country serve one another in their local areas with dedication and loyalty, often at immense personal sacrifice. Those who serve with the greatest distinction merit the recognition and honor at the national level.

 

The Irving Diener Award was first established in 1962. It takes its name from Irving Diener, a former member of the BVA National Advisory Committee who took a unique interest in BVA’s mission and members. The award has been subsequently supported by the children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren of Irving Diener, some of whom reside in the Washington, DC area near BVA National Headquarters.

 

Nominations must include the following:

  • A cover letter introducing the candidate and signed by an officer of the regional group or the individual submitting the nomination
  • A statement detailing the contributions made and the services rendered to the regional group in question
  • A biographical sketch of the candidate with data related to his/her military service,
    education, job status, family life, community service, hobbies, and pastimes

An individual may receive the Diener Award only once. BVA employees, even if they are members of the Association, are not eligible for the award. There is no limit to the number of nominations a BVA member can submit.

 

Please submit nominations, postmarked on or before the final Friday in April, to:
Blinded Veterans Association
Attn: Administrative Director
1101 King Street, Suite 300
Alexandria, VA 22314

 

Apply Online

 

The recipient of the Irving Diener Award receives a complimentary registration to the national convention at which the recognition is to be presented, as well as a modest stipend.

 

Download Description (PDF) (DOC)

The David L. Schnair Award recognizes and honors the outstanding contributions of committed volunteers. BVA established the award in 1994 in memory and in honor of World War II veteran David Schnair, a member of the BVA Board of Directors and a Volunteer National Service Officer for nearly five decades.

 

Although he was not a founding member of the organization, David Schnair pioneered BVA’s efforts beginning in the 1950s. He was both a longtime Director of District 1 and a dedicated volunteer of the New York Regional Group in the Manhattan VA Regional Office. His efforts greatly contributed to the success of what was formerly known as the Association’s Field Service Program. His commitment has been recognized by BVA and other organizations.

 

A true role model, David was known for his passion for assisting blinded veterans to obtain the benefits they had earned through their military service. For that reason, he was a wealth of knowledge and information for those needing his expertise. He was well connected in both the veteran and blindness communities, thus enhancing his effectiveness in serving blinded veterans. He was recognized for his outstanding work by VA, other organizations serving the blind, and the State of New York.

 

The criteria for nominating candidates for the David L. Schnair Award consist of the following:

  • The candidate must be a BVA member or a member of the BVA Auxiliary with at least one year of consistent and outstanding service as a BVA volunteer.
  • The candidate must understand the VA system.
  • The candidate must be an asset to the BVA volunteer program and blinded veterans.
  • The candidate must be affiliated with VA Voluntary Services.
  • The candidate must demonstrate a presence in community activities and successfully
    represent BVA as a spokesperson.
  • The candidate must demonstrate consistency in submitting monthly reports.

Chiefs of Volunteer Services, Visual Impairment Service Team Coordinators, District Directors, Regional Group Presidents, and fellow ambassadors may nominate individuals for the Schnair Award with a letter highlighting their volunteer service and its results. The letter should also include the approximate total number of VA volunteer lifetime hours the candidate has logged.

 

Please submit the letters, postmarked on or before the final Friday in April, to:
Blinded Veterans Association
Attn: National Service Director, Veterans Benefits & Policy
1101 King Street, Suite 300
Alexandria, VA 22314

 

Apply Online

 

The National Service Director, Benefits & Policy, will review the nominations and consult with candidates’ Regional Group Presidents prior to submission to the panel for final selection.

 

The recipient of the David L. Schnair Award receives a complimentary registration to the national convention at which the recognition is presented as well as a modest stipend donated by the New York Regional Group.

 

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Certificates of Appreciation recognize individuals, groups, and employers who have provided outstanding services to blinded veterans and their families, or to BVA at the national level. These services could include the creation of greater awareness of blinded veterans, their abilities, and their achievements. Typical recipients are, but are not necessarily limited to, VA employees or individuals and agencies engaged in blind rehabilitation. BVA members, their family members, and Association employees are not eligible for Certificates of Appreciation.

 

Nominations must include the following:

  • A letter of support by the person or group responsible for submitting the nomination
  • A brief biographical sketch of the individual or group
  • A recommendation setting forth detailed justification of the outstanding service rendered by the individual or group being nominated

Nominations may be made by the following:

  • Individual members of the Board of Directors
  • Executive Director
  • Director of Public Relations
  • National Service Director, Veterans Benefits & Policy
  • National Service Officers
  • Regional Groups in Good Standing

The Certificate of Appreciation is presented at the National Convention when the recipient is present. The time and place of the presentation during the Convention is left to the discretion of the Board of Directors. The citation for the recipient who is unable to attend the Convention will not be read unless a designated representative is present to receive the award on behalf of the recipient.

 

Please submit nominations with three copies, postmarked on or before the final Friday in April, to:
Blinded Veterans Association
Attn: Administrative Director
1101 King Street, Suite 300
Alexandria, VA 22314

 

Apply Online

 

BVA will provide the annual recipient of a Certificate of Appreciation with a complimentary
convention registration.

 

Download Description (PDF) (DOC)