March 28 commemorates the 72nd anniversary when approximately 100 World War II blinded Veterans banded together and declared their independence. These heroes came together at Avon Old Farms Army Convalescent Hospital, where war blinded received therapy to cope with sight loss. The assembly established the Blinded Veterans Association and commenced advocacy efforts for the establishment of what we now call the Department of Veterans Affairs Blind Rehab Services.
President Obama and the 111th Congress recognized the importance remembering March 28th as National Blinded Veterans Day by signing Public Law 111-156. Governor Sam Brownback validated the service of blinded Veterans by issuing the Heartland Regional Group with its own proclamation. “Today and every subsequent March 28th, I know the American people will remember the sacrifices of the thousands of Veterans who live with a visual impairment, thanks to our day,” remarks Timothy Hornik, the Vice President of the heartland Regional Group of the Blinded Veterans Association. The Heartland Regional Group offers blinded Veterans various services from peer support to recreational programs.
General Omar Bradley, VA Administrator in the late 1940s, appointed BVA to be the first official representative for blinded veterans for the filing of claims and appeals to VA, making it only the eighth Veterans Service Organization to receive such authorization. In 1958, BVA received its congressional charter as a Veterans Service Organization.
Blinded Veterans continuously encourages their peers, families, and friends to do more than live with blindness but thrive. National Blinded Veterans Day represents more than a time to remember our Veterans services and sacrifices, but a day when we proudly announce our presence throughout the country. These actions aid in accomplishing our goals to regain independence, confidence, and self-esteem. It matters not if a Veteran’s blindness stems from military service to natural causes, since we all are Veterans living with a visual impairment.