I was a heavy equipment mechanic and truck driver when I started having real bad eye problems that was preventing me from working and as a result lost my job and career without a formal education I didn't have insurance that covered extensive ophthalmology and retina specialist visits and testing . As a result I lost everything including my home . The BVA joined with the Lions club and I was able to get a diagnosis of an inherited retinal disease known as Retinitis Pigmentosa and the BVA's part of solving the problem was to get me enrolled and attending a blind rehab clinic and while I was attending one of the field service officers, after finding out I was homeless cut me a check for $300.00 to assist me in finding a place to stay when I was scheduled to complete the training . Due to the Generosity of the BVA I was able to focus on new career training skills like going back to school and getting employment . I would hate to think where I may have ended being un-employed and rapidly losing my eyesight and with the disease that has no known cure
My experience with BVA was life changing. Start to finish my VA Compensation Claim case was completed in less than four months. Big KUDOS to Ms. Claudia Perry and Ms. Cecilia Montenegro from BVA. They were kind, very helpful, sharp, professional, understanding, and well in-depth knowledge of VA and RP.
As the Founder and President of the Global Campaign Against Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) I can state without hesitation that BVA is perhaps the finest organization we've worked with in support of veterans and their families.
BVA's unfaltering support to our veterans, active duty and their families has been manifest in their unqualified support not only whenever we needed it, but when others called for assistance. This extends beyond the military to their help in facilitating critical information sharing of blast trauma related data and research with the private sector and first responders especially in the make of the Boston Marathon attack.
At every opportunity and without hesitation on continually point to BVA as THE benchmark for what a a Veterans Service Organization should be and how it should operate. They literally set the standard.
As a recently retired representative of the American Optometric Association (AOA), the professional society representing doctors of optometry in both the private sector and those practicing in the federal sector (military, VA PHS), I would like to voice my opinion of the Blinded Veterans Association. I have had a long-standing working relationship with BVA officials that goes back for decades and over that time I witnessed an admirable arc of maturation and growth in BVA's representation product. My experience with BVA was not centered on direct member service but rather on BVA's advocacy efforts and I can report enthusiastically on the solid reputation that BVA enjoys with Members of Congress. It is my opinion that, year in and year out, BVA has been an exemplar for Veterans Service Organizations in their advocacy efforts before Congress and the administrative agencies. BVA has led the way in securing greatly improved services for blin rehabilitation, low vision, and, more recently, in polytrauma, traumatic brain injury and its effects on vision.
Writing from the perspective of a former representative for an individual membership association, I am most sensitive to individual members' assessment of their membership association. From an association staff perspective, its our sensitivity to members' charge of:"what have you done for us recently"; and, from the association member perspective it's "we pay our dues (etc) yet we wonder about the value..." This refrain from both the staff and member perspective has always been thus; it's the vdery nature of association representation no matter the endeavor. But rest assured, there is QUANTIFIABLE evidence BVA takes a backseat to no VSO when it comes to their committment to steadfast - and sometimes even aggressive - representation for BVA's agenda. Just ask to see the record of "points on the board" BVA has compiled for its members.
David S Danielson
American Optometric Association 1975-2013
My name is Paul Davidson and I am the Federal Program Manager for Deque Systems Inc. Deque Systems is a Prime Contractor to the Veterans Administration where we test and partially remediate html content that is in the public domain as well as behind the VA firewall. Our goal is to significantly improve web accessibility for blind and disabled veterans who are dependent upon screen reader technology to interact with the agency content such as Insurance, Benefits and Career sites. Deque has had the good fortune to work with the Blinded Veterans Association as we identify use cases for these web sites. We have worked closely with BVA field staff to understand some of the challenges that blinded veterans face. BVA has outstanding staff and management that are committed to the cause and greatly benefit the disabled community and specifically our nation’s veterans.
My name is Daniel L. Wallace I am a 20 year veteran of the U.S. Army, in 2003 I was wounded by a car bomb in Iraq. After retiring I felled distant and unwilling to participate in any service organization. In May of 2013 I finally decided to attend the Hines school for the blind, it was there that I was introduced to the Blind Veterans Association. At first I thought that since I was partially blind that it was my duty to join. About a month later I was contacted by Christina Hitchcock and asked if I would like to attend the annual convention in Spokane WA as a member of Operation Peer Support. My answer was yes and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I have made in a long time. Meeting my fellow veterans rein stilled a sense of pride, camaraderie, and belonging that I have not felled in a long time. Words cannot express how grateful I am. Now it is my turn to try to help other veterans, and let them feel that they belong as well.
Daniel L. Wallace
The organization, which is one of a kind in its support of blinded veterans, has many positive aspects. Firstly, the FSP Program and the Legislative Affairs Department and their advocacy for the rights of blinded veterans are outstanding. Where the organization lacks is in the areas of funding and leadership. It is unfortunate that many of the members do not "step up to the plate" and get involved, and this includes many within the ranks of the elected Board members. It is a “Good Ole Boy network and is highly nepotistic, to put it mildly. The Board members, by the By-Laws of the organization, have to come from the ranks of the membership. Although this may be a great idea since the Officers of the organization have a firm commitment to the goals and mission of the organization, this severely limits those who can serve in leadership positions. This has resulted in a limitation of those with sound business or non-profit experience serving in key decision making positions within the organization. Additionally, the key funding source for the organization remains Direct Mail solicitations. This is a financial resource drain and the Return on Investment (ROI) for this type of funding source is less than optimal. On another note, the membership will soon be facing a major crisis, since the majority of members are from the WWII era, and the lack of recruitment of “younger” members to keep the organization a relevant voice for blinded veterans will be in jeopardy when the membership “dies out”. Lastly, when you look at the IRS I-990 reporting form, the majority of funds do not go to direct veteran services. It can be argued that the reporting is skewed and that some of the funds are not counted correctly in the direct service area, but it is still the fact that this needs to change in order to be considered or ranked higher as an organization that people want to donate to in order to provide services to blinded veterans. It is quite difficult to give to an organization with a 0 or 1 star rating when it comes to non-profits. Although the BVA is a BBB accredited organization their non-profit ranking by all of those organizations who rate non-profits, such as Great Non-profits and Charity Navigator, have the BVA ranked in the 0 or 1 star rating category. So when you look for an organization to donate to, Caveat Emptor should be the final word on where your money should go.
By far the best nonprofit organization for blind veterans. Big kudos to Ms. Claudia Perry and her staff.
To Whom It May Concern:
I would like to acknowledge how helpful and supportive the Blinded Veterans Association has been to me as a blinded veteran. They have helped me directly to get training and helped me deal with the emotional issues surrounding blindness and put me in contact with other veterans in similar situations. They have been instrumental in the training that the VA provides at their various blind centers throughout the country. The support they have provided in understanding my benefits has improved my ability to deal with my blindness. Their local chapters provide an avenue of meeting other veterans in the community in which I live with similar conditions. I would strongly recommend that if you are a blinded veteran that you contact the BVA regarding benefits that you may be qualified to receive.
James P. Huber
What can I say about the BVA? First I would like to say thank you to Claudia Perry and her staff @ the DC VA. They are a tremendous help to me in answering any questions I may have about my benefits and rights as a veteran. I use to be a member if another organization and every time I called for help with my claim itvwas always something and it would take forever to get a call back. It got to the point where I was all ready to give up about filling my claim. The day I meet Claudia and her staff was a blessing. For the first time I truly felt like I had someone in my corner helping me through the VA process. Again THANK YOU BVA!!!! My life is alittle bit more manageable because of your staff @ the DC VA.