Each year, Veterans Day pays tribute to all veterans in the United States, wherever and whenever they served. The holiday commemorates the fact that on November 11, 1918, an armistice between the Allies and Germany marked the end of the First World War. In subsequent years, the anniversary of that event became known as Armistice Day, changed by Congress in 1954 to Veterans Day, to include all who have served in the armed forces in World War II and beyond. Since that time, parades, cultural activities, and other events have been held each year to mark the occasion. Read more from the Veterans Authority about The Significance of Veteran’s Day for Americans. This year more than 500 free Veterans Day events will be held across the nation. And VA-recognized Veterans Day observances will be hosted by 33 communities in 25 states and in Washington DC. For more information and a full list of activities, check out these Veterans Day events and observances from every state, which includes a listing of free Veterans Day meals and other offers.
The Commitment to Veterans’ Blind Rehabilitation Training
During and following World War II also marked increased recognition of and commitment from the federal government to blinded servicemembers. In 1944, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared that “’no blind servicemen from WWII would be returned to their homes without adequate training to meet the problems of necessity imposed upon them by their blindness.’” Post-war, in 1947, President Harry Truman signed a presidential order transferring the military’s blind rehabilitation training to the Veterans Administration (VA). Subsequently, ongoing training for blind veterans emerged, first with a model program at Hines VA Hospital in Chicago and eventually with today’s 13 inpatient blind rehabilitation centers across the nation. These centers provide in-depth intensive and supportive care to restore the abilities of veterans and active military personnel to “achieve their independence, support their families, care for their homes, and integrate into their communities.” Rehabilitation training covers a wide array of services, depending on the individual’s goals and interests. The VA also provides Blind Rehabilitation Services Outpatient Clinics throughout the United States for veterans with vision loss. At these clinics, eye care providers and blind rehabilitation specialists and other support services work collaboratively as an interdisciplinary team to assist veterans and active duty servicemembers in “developing the skills needed for personal independence and successful reintegration into the community and family environment.” Learn more from the VA about the Post WWII commitment to blind Veterans here and about overall offerings about the VA’s Blind Rehabilitation Services here.
Blinded Veterans Ambassador Program: Connecting Individuals with Vision Loss with Services
More than 120,000 veterans are blind and approximately 1.1 million veterans have low vision, according to the VA Blind Rehabilitation Service (BRS). Many of these individuals are unaware about BRS and do not know that they are eligible for assistance even if their vision loss is not service related. To heighten awareness and disseminate benefits information and advocacy tips among blinded veterans, the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) Ambassador Program trains volunteers to serve at a VA Blind Center or VA Blind Rehabilitation Outpatient program. Ambassadors help veterans with vision loss make the most of their VA benefits, including access to the full range of inpatient and outpatient vision impairment services. To find out more about these services, including how to become an ambassador, visit the Blinded Veterans Association webpage on the Blinded Veterans Association Ambassador Program.