Category Archives: Blinded Veterans Association

Blinded Veterans Share Stories at ARVO Conference

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Blinded Veterans Association Operation Peer Support participants Matt Slaydon, Shianti Lee, Tom Zampieri, Tim Hornik, Sean Johnson, Steve Baskis, Glenn Minney, and Don Gagliano

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Terrell Davis, former Denver Broncos running back, spoke about the impact of traumatic brain injury

In May Sean and I attended the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) national conference in Denver, Colorado. Sean was one of three veterans who represented the Blinded Veterans Association’s (BVA) Operation Peer Support on a panel addressing traumatic brain injury and vision loss.

These veterans shared their personal experiences with brain injuries sustained in Iraq and Afghanistan and how their vision was ultimately imapacted. They were joined on stage by researchers and medical professionals who have extensive experience with brain injury and vision loss.

Former Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis spoke briefly about his experience with TBI due to his injuries on the football field and the impact on his life. He encouraged participants to continue to research brain injury, especially for military service members.

Throughout the weekend we attended other sessions to learn about ground-breaking research and life-changing technology.

To learn more, folllow these links:

Brain injuries get closer look at Denver conference

http://www.thedenverchannel.com/lifestyle/health/brain-injuries-get-closer-look-at-denver-conference

Vision and Traumatic Brain Injury in Veterans and Athletes

http://www.arvo.org/Annual_Meeting/2015/Program/Vision_and_Traumatic_Brain_Injury_in_Veterans_and_Athletes/


Instant Replay

I was asked recently if it was hard to keep up with a blog…my answer was no, not if you only write one post a year 😦  Oh my goodness I’ve been slacking. I’m going to post highlights and a couple newsy pieces from the past year and call it good.

1. Cancun, Mexico

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2. Phase 1 of the RAND study on Military Caregivers was released http://elizabethdolefoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/RAND-RR-244-Embargoed-Full-Report.pdf

3. Bike Camp in Colorado

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4. In May 2013, Sean traveled to England with other members of the Blinded Veterans Association as part of Project Gemini for an educational exchange to share knowledge, insights, and friendship with their British comrades. Project Gemini is a joint effort of Blind Veterans UK of London, England, and the BVA. Melissa tagged along and spent the week touring London and Edinburgh, Scotland with her good friend Lou.

http://www.bva.org/news/?p=506

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5. In June Sean became the Commander of VFW Post 17.

6. Horses for Heroes Challenge Aspen C.A.M.O.

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7. Operation Opening Doors home remodel was completed in August.  The main floor is completely handicap-accessible with an enlarged bathroom (including walk-in shower) and new kitchen.

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Governor and Mrs. Daugaard attended our open house

Governor and Mrs. Daugaard attended our open house

8. Melissa attended The Daily Beast’s Hero Summit in DC to watch her dear friend and mentor (and boss) speak about Families on the Frontlines.  Watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMvmYGCE2s0

Brannan Vines, Senator Elizabeth Dole, and Melissa

Brannan Vines, Senator Elizabeth Dole, and Melissa

9. Melissa had the opportunity to speak before several groups this year including the South Dakota American Legion Auxiliary, SD RehabACTion State Conference, the Sioux Falls VA Family Caregivers Month Event, and a Veterans Day presentation at the South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

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10. Sean went on his annual David Feherty IED pheasant hunt with Sons of Southfork.

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11. Melissa attended the 2013 National Summit at the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving with friends and coworkers Steffanie and Brannan.

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12. Sean’s tandem bike *finally* arrived!!  Now if we only had decent weather outside so he could ride.

Medical retirement update:  In January 2013 we were informed that Sean’s records had not yet been received at Ft. McCoy (shipped from Ft. Riley in June 2012).  The records were located in February 2013 and sent to Ft. Carson.  The army required Sean to undergo multiple physical and mental health examinations (because all those he had done previously had expired).  The final evaluation was completed in May 2013.  Records were sent to the Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) in June.  In December 2013 we received what should be the final stack of paperwork to review and sign.  Fingers crossed he should be medically retired by the end of January!  (Yes, I’m counting my chickens…)


Finding Hope in a Darker World

This is a story from American Veteran written by our friend Liesel Mirelli about our friend Dorian Gardner.  We had the pleasure to meet them both at the Blinded Veterans Association Convention in Las Vegas this summer.

Finding Hope in a Darker World Story begins on page 34.