Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

Grant 1: Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) Ambassador Program

In the United States,120,000 veterans are blind and more than one million live with low vision, according to Veterans Administration (VA) estimates. Despite a multitude of programs offered through the VA’s Blind Rehabilitation Service, only a small number of those who could benefit from them receive VA services (34,000 who are legally blind and 29,000 with low vision). This disparity exists because most veterans are either unaware of the benefits and services available to them or incorrectly assume they are not eligible for assistance because their vision loss is not service connected. The Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) Ambassador Program helps to bridge the gap between these veterans and the VA. This is accomplished by recruiting a national network of trained volunteers to serve as peer mentors and advocates for veterans adjusting to vision loss. The program also provides information about benefits and services available to veterans and connects them with resources they can access through BVA, the Veterans Administration (VA), and the community. BVA requested support from RDPFS to build the program through the development of an Ambassador Success Kit with marketing and communication materials as well as the strengthening of its computer infrastructure.