Esteemed BVA Members, Volunteers, Friends, Partners, and Staff:
On behalf of our National Board of Directors, I wish for each of you and yours a pleasant and happy holiday season. May the season be filled with joy, peace, and hope for prosperity in the New Year!
This is the best time of year to reflect on the things in our lives that are of greatest worth and, in many instances, sacred to us. Although peace on earth and good will to others is a work in progress throughout the world for those who truly care, I hope that each of us can feel something of an inner peace during the days ahead, resolving to continue in our resilience despite the challenges facing us. The optimism in me tells me that we can and will do so, and that we will become stronger in the process. We will get through COVID challenges, economic trials, and the difficulties we face in our own families and communities.
I hope that you and your families are healthy and persevering during these trying times. For the second year in a row, the holidays look quite different for all of us, compounded now by a new COVID-19 variant. This is certainly not what any of us hoped for as the holidays approach. No matter what, however, the last nine days or so of 2021 will be a time to feel extra grateful for family and friends, openly expressing our love for them even if the connection is but virtual.
For me, this special season of the year is all about giving, not necessarily the giving of coveted material possessions but the giving of oneself through the type of service that brings healing, renewal, and greater self-confidence to those around us. The spirit associated with giving and service is something that lives year-round within our Blinded Veterans Association in every part of the country and among all our constituents—whether they be members, volunteers, corporate partners, or other financial supporters. I have felt of that spirit and seen it in action during my visits to our Department of Veterans Affairs Blind Rehabilitation Centers, at our in-person and virtual regional group meetings, when hearing of a blinded veteran who has been successful in filing a claim with the assistance of our Veterans Service Program, and in many more instances and situations too numerous to mention.
This occasion presents me with one of the best opportunities to express my thanks to our loyal partners and friends who contributed to our accomplishments in 2021. Pulling off a virtual national convention this past August, for example, was unprecedented and perhaps something many believed could not be done. None of it would have been possible without you, our network of dedicated donors, advocates, families, and friends. You are the ones who fuel our progress as an organization and who truly make a difference for the blind and visually impaired veterans we serve. We look forward to strengthening that association with you in 2022.
I feel equally grateful for our BVA members and their families, my lifelong friends with whom I have shared some of the best moments of my life. Through that friendship, you have brought greater meaning to the mission and values of the organization as I have witnessed the way you live those values.
Whatever your religious beliefs and holiday traditions, my earnest hope is that they will play a significant role in your activities and celebrations this year.
Joseph D. McNeil, Sr.
P.S. Your prior support has made the holidays and many other days brighter for our nation’s blinded veterans who struggle with the challenges of adjusting to blindness. Please consider an end-of-year, tax-deductible gift empowering blinded veterans to rise above life’s challenges after sight loss. All donations are fully tax-deductible.