Disabled American Veterans

Blind Veterans National Chapter #1

WEB SITE: www.davbvnc1.com


September/October Newsletter


Editor: Dennis OíConnell






Commander Carroll Prosser (SC)

Phone (843) 997-1981

Email: heypops43@gmail.com


Sr. Vice Cdr. James Hogan (CA)

1st Jr. Vice Cdr. Stephen Moffitt (RI)

2nd Jr. Vice Cdr. William Burgess (FL)

3rd Jr. Vice Cdr. Rick Calissi (FL)

4th Jr. Vice Cdr. Charles Brooks (FL)

Judge Advocate Dennis OíConnell (NY)
Chaplain Rev. Tony Martino (WI)
Phone 847 736 2111

Adjutant/Treasurer Paul Kaminsky (FL)

Phone 904 291-0576


Immediate Past Commander

Richard Bugbee (AZ)


PLEASE, If you know of any member who is sick or deceased inform one of the officers whose contact information is listed above ASAPP.



Donald Raies, Streetsboro, OH


Leonard Pope, Ewing NJ




I apologize for taking so long to give my thanks to everyone for their support at our national convention. It is truly an honor to serve as your commander and most of all your friend. The purpose of the national blind chapter should be to promote awareness of the blind and what each of us can do to show that even as blinded people we can still and will continue to be helpful and productive citizens. I will do my best to stand beside you and your caregivers to support programs that will be productive for each and every one of our members and other blind and visually impaired veteran and non veterans alike. Please contact me if I can be of assistance to any of you.




Disabled Navy veteran Lonnie Bedwell made history in August, becoming the first completely blind solo kayaker to paddle down the entire length of the Grand Canyon. He achieved this feat when he completed his trek down the Colorado River supported by Team River Runner on Wednesday, August 21. Bedwell, a Navy Veteran from Dugger, Indiana, was guided by three military veterans from Team River Runner who relied only on a system of voice commands to navigate him through the entire trip, including the large, difficult Class V rapids. The 16-day journey was made possible thanks to the help of numerous volunteers and fellow veterans, as well as a generous grant from Check-6 Inc., a service disabled veteran owned company that focuses on safety and training in the energy industry.

Alex Nielson, one of the three veterans who guided Bedwell, remarked on the biggest challenge the team faced on their journey: building a system of communication between Bedwell and his guides. "Once we had established a system of commands, and a method for speaking to each other in the rapids, Lonnie and I continued to work together in order to get more familiar with each other and to perfect our navigation techniques. By the time we were running the largest rapids of the Grand Canyon, I felt comfortable leading Lonnie into the crashing waves, and I also knew that he trusted me to direct him to the safest places."

Fellow veteran Mike Bradley said, "I have no words to describe how amazing it was to be a part of guiding the first blind kayaker to navigate the entire Grand Canyon. I am so honored to have been able to be with him as he accomplished such an inspiring feat, and I am humbled by his courage and perseverance. This is a true testament of Team River Runner's ability in empowering wounded and disabled veterans. As Lonnie said, "We did it!"

By kayaking the entire 226-mile length of the Grand Canyon in a solo kayak, Bedwell not only made history, but he also fulfilled a dream he has long shared with Team River Runner Executive Director, Joe Mornini. "Running the Grand Canyon was a dream for Joe and me, and now that dream has become a reality. I hope that other disabled persons will be able to share this feeling with me one day and achieve their dreams as well," said Bedwell.

Mornini, who co-founded Team River Runner, a chapter of Disabled Sports USA, in 2004 and currently serves as its Executive Director, praised the team effort that engendered this historic achievement and which continues to serve as the ethos of his organization. "No one goes down the Grand Canyon on the river and leaves the same way they entered. Lonnie's three warrior guides, and the entire group of veterans and volunteers, formed a bond that enabled healing and empowerment for all, and a truly historic achievement as a team."

"Joe Mornini has opened the doors for warriors who were wounded to find life again on the water. He is a man of singular vision and energy who saw a need and focused his sight on helping wounded veterans get back in the game," said Brian "Bru" Brurud, the founder of Check-6, Inc. "Congratulations to Lonnie and Team River Runner on a job very well done!"




From: Marc Burgess, DAV

National Adjutant/CEO


DAV and Auxiliary volunteers Dennis Krulder and Melody Angelini were honored for their outstanding service at the convention. Outgoing DAV National Commander Larry Polzin said, ďTheir support of our injured and ill veterans is a fine example of the dedication of DAVís volunteers.Ē

Employers of the Year Recognized for Veteran Hires: one tree was in an and in an

†††††††† The strong practice of hiring veterans earned ICF International of Fairfax, Va., and HELP of Cincinnati honors as DAVís Outstanding Large and Small Employers of the Year at the DAV National Convention. ICF sponsored a symposium on hiring disabled veterans, while 40% of HELPís leadership team is made up of veterans.

Transportation Network Given a New Car:

†††††††† Following a public call to help replace an aging fleet of vehicles for DAVís volunteer Transportation Network in Cicero, N.Y., Sun Auto Warehouse responded with the donation of a brand new car. Vehicles in the program often put on 80,000 to 90,000 miles per year, so contributions are always welcome.


†††††††† The VA recently made this request of veterans regarding filing service-connected disability claims: Get help from accredited claims preparers. Veterans canaccess the best trained team of VA claims experts right here from DAV!

Suicide Prevention a Phone Call Away:

†††††††† Trained professionals are on the line at the Veterans Crisis Line, the VAís confidential suicide prevention hotline. Veterans or concerned family and friends can call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, text 838255 or chat online for help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Keep the Inspiration Going:

†††††††† Like all the great feelings we take away from lifeís high points, DAV members are holding on to the energy that came out of the National Convention Ė whether they were there in person or followed the action on the Internet.

You keep DAV running strong through your own involvement, earning our deepest gratitude.

Meet DAV National Commander Joe Johnston:

A unanimous vote elected Joe Johnston as National Commander at DAVís recent National Convention. Having built a successful new life in nonprofit management after injuries ended his career as a military officer, the Army ranger brings a wealth of leadership, management and financial experience to his new role.




Government shutdown or not, DAV believes that veterans are a national priority. Thatís why weíre still on the job. Despite a partial shutdown of the federal government, including some elements of the Department of Veterans Affairs, DAV remains on duty to help. Whether in their offices or setting up canopies in public areas, our National Service Officers are ready to assist you in filing claims for veteranís benefits. And even though the shutdown may slow the claims process, it is important to file a claim to protect the effective date of any award you may receive.




In the last issue I wrote: William H. Ledbetter, Saint Louis, MO, was deceased. He had moved and neither DAV nor I had any information about Bill. Thus, as happens many times, I find that a person is deceased when I am unable to locate that member. Thankfully I was wrong this time.