Services and Support for Blind and Visually Impaired Veterans
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The face of the blinded veteran is changing. Until recent years, the average age of blinded veterans presenting to the Veterans Administration for services was 73. The primary eye condition treated was Macular Degeneration. As a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines are returning in record numbers with traumatic brain injuries that result in vision impairment. Unfortunately, this is the highest rate for any American war in the past 100 years.
It has been PAB’s experience that the transition back into the home and community, following significant vision loss is especially difficult for veterans, individuals whom have often thrived upon stalwart principles of strength and independence. Activities of daily living, leisure pursuits, education, vocational and social interactions are now interrupted. The President’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors submitted its final report “Serve, Support, Simplify” on July 30, 2007. The report is the result of a six month comprehensive scrutiny of the system of care for the returning veterans. The Commission clarifies in its report that “While the quality of the medical care provided to the veterans has often been excellent, problems in coordination and continuity of care are common and become obstacles in accessing need services.
Recognizing the need to provide this kind of continuum of care for blinded veterans in Pennsylvania, the PAB and the Blinded Veterans Association of PA met jointly in 2008 to address this issue. The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the Vision Impairment Services Teams of the Veterans Administration facilities serving Pennsylvania joined us in this effort. This resource directory is a result of that collaboration.
The PAB and the VA are working together to ensure that the men and women who have given so much to our country will be well-served for the rest of their lives. This is, to our knowledge, the only such collaboration in the nation.
Blinded Veterans Initiative -The Hadley School for the Blind is pleased to announce a new Blinded Veterans Initiative, officially unveiled on Veterans Day 2011. The goal of this new initiative is to educate and inspire blind or visually impaired veterans to pursue their personal and professional goals and help support their families. Visually impaired veterans, through Hadley’s Adult Continuing Education Program, and their family members, through the Family Education Program, can enroll in the school’s distance education courses tuition-free, thanks to the generous support of Goldman Sachs Gives.