On October 3rd, Blinded Veterans from the Topeka and Leavenworth VA Visual Impairment Services Team support groups will meet each other for the first time during a tour of the Topeka Capital. This event is being hosted through a joint venture between the Heartland Regional Group of the Blinded Veterans Association, Blind Not Alone LLC, and the VIST coordinator at the Topeka and Leavenworth VA. The Topeka and Leavenworth chapters of the Disabled American Veterans, Kansas Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired, and the Kansas Commission on Veterans Affairs are supporting the trip by transporting the blinded Veterans, providing educational and peer support opportunities, and securing spaces for the group to learn more about Kansas blindness and Veteran resources. Special guests includes potential visits by Lt. Gov. Collyer and other elected officials during the lunch or afternoon.
The group consists of approximately 45 participants, with the main focus on the 24 blinded Veterans and their caregivers. The remaining individuals consist of Veterans from the DAV, VA Blind Rehab Services from the Eastern Kansas and KC VAMC, and KABVI members. Blinded Veterans possess several identities, being blind, a Veterans, and in many cases having other disabilities. The multiple identities enables each individual to access a variety of programs and services empowering them to live fulfilling and independent lives.
By uniting the two support groups, the trip aims to instill a sense of belonging amongst the Veterans. Traveling between Topeka and Leavenworth imposes a severe barrier for these two support groups to meet. Thanks to the volunteerism and camaraderie from our fellow Veterans and blinded Kansans makes this meeting possible. This is the goal of our organizations, bridge the divides between each other through community development.