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

Another Independence Day is upon us, a holiday that I look forward to more than any other! I enjoy the summer reunions with family and friends, and the many festivities that go along with this special day in our nation’s history. This year I have the privilege of spending the holiday in Jacksonville, Florida, as we prepare for BVA’s 79th National Convention, which kicks off this coming weekend.

I consider Independence Day, or the Fourth of July as we often prefer to call it, a true gift. It is a gift of assurance that my own sacrifices for this great country, as well as those of my fellow blinded veterans, have indeed played a role in the preservation of the freedoms and prosperity we can all now enjoy.

These sacrifices, in our case, are the eye injuries we have sustained on the battlefield or the eye diseases, often service connected, that have beset us afterward. Ironically, as we fought to defend the nations’ independence, many of us lost our personal independence but later regained it after participating in the rehabilitation programs, services, and resources available through the Department of Veterans Affairs and advocated by BVA throughout its 79-year history.

I have recently learned more about an amazing BVA member who is a testament to the reality of independence regained. Dr. Paschal Baute of Lexington, Kentucky, a 94-year-old blinded veteran turning 95 on July 12. Paschal has authored 40 books containing themes of gratitude, resilience, and wellness. He has served in uniform for more than 23 years, enlisted and commissioned, active and reserve, in all branches, the longest being as a Navy Chaplain. He earned his doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania in 1967 and was inducted into the Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame Honor Roll in the Class of 2018 for outstanding military and community service.

Paschal is doing something for BVA this month that is truly unprecedented. He describes it as follows: 

Today, at the start of my birthday month, at age 95, I am beginning my celebration of life by starting a fundraising campaign “Grit-Freedom with Blindness” for BVA, an organization which has done so much for me and my fellow blinded veterans. I am excited to start this “go for broke” project. A longtime friend of 70 years, faced with terminal cancer, recently had his “Celebration of Life” event while still able. It occurred to me that this moment, making my birthday month the beginning of this project to raise money for BVA, is the perfect celebration of life moment for me. Therefore, I am asking everyone whose life I have touched to donate to the organization I have come to love, and to which I am much indebted. You would be generous if you knew how many thousands of blinded veterans this precious organization has aided.

Paschal is offering an autographed copy of one of his books to all who donate a minimum of $29 to BVA during the month of July. Please consider making that donation here in recognition of Independence Day and in honor of Paschal’s generosity and gracious testimonial.


Donald D. Overton

BVA Executive Director

P.S. Paschal relates his life story in Episode #8 (June 1, 2024) of an Apple Podcast series entitled “Grace-Grit-Hope,” located online here.

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