Disabled American Veterans

Blind Veterans National Chapter #1


November/December 2014 Newsletter

Editor: Dennis O’Connell is the new email address






Commander Carroll Prosser (SC), Phone (843) 997-1981


Senior vice Commander James Hogan (CA)

1st Junior vice Commander Terry Livingston (FL)

 2nd Junior vice Commander Charles Brooks (FL)

 3rd Vice Commander Ron Lester (AZ)

4th Junior vice Commander William Burgess (FL)

Judge Advocate Dennis O’Connell (NY)
Chaplain Rev. Tony Martino (IL), Phone 847 736 2111, email:

Adjutant/Treasurer Paul Kaminsky (FL) (also webmaster), 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.



Joseph Martone, Syracuse, NY, James Robinson, Lake City, FL,

Charlie Smith, Denver, CO

Submitted by Audiology Associates

Las Vegas — On Nov. 8, the HearStrong Foundation celebrated Jim Hogan, a veteran of the U.S. Navy as a HearStrong Champion during a special ceremony at the 2014 Academy of Doctors of Audiology Convention in Las Vegas.

“Today, roughly 60 percent of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have some degree of hearing loss,” said Ed Keller, founder of the HearStrong Foundation. “By recognizing Jim for his incredible accomplishments, we hope to inspire other veterans to seek the hearing solutions they need to help them reconnect to the people and things that matter most.”

Nominated by Audiology Associates of Santa Clarita, Hogan was diagnosed with hearing loss as a young boy and quickly began utilizing hearing devices. Determined to fulfill his dream of serving his country, Hogan enlisted in the Navy following his graduation from high school in 1966. After serving four and a half years in Vietnam combat areas, Hogan re-entered civilian life in 1973.

Ten years later, Hogan was diagnosed with Ushers II, a degenerative disease that causes vision and hearing loss. Never one to be held back, he continued to enthusiastically maintain his active lifestyle.

“My wife and I camp, bike, hike, enter parades and attend concerts,” said Hogan. “My hearing devices (and guide dog, Atticus) enable me to be more independent!”



The Department of Veterans Affairs has developed a new program to assist those veterans who think they may have been a victim of identity theft. Below are the resources the VA has put in place.

VA Identity Theft Help Hot Line: 1-855-578-5492 toll free. 8:00AM to 8:00PM (Eastern Time) Monday thru Friday


taken from The Gulf Coast Blind Rehabilitation Center Newsletter

Fighting Depression: It’s in the Doing

Erin K. McCrory, Ph.D., Blind Rehabilitation Psychologist

Depressed mood is commonly associated with vision loss. This comes as no surprise, as vision loss is typically accompanied by greater levels of disability, increased medical bills, loss of independence and difficulty doing activities one used to enjoy. Depressed mood states may be difficult for persons with vision loss to admit, particularly if they are concerned about the impact of their mood on those around them. Indeed, research consistently shows that patients with chronic medical illnesses may suppress their own feelings in order to protect their friends and family.

All levels of visual impairment place persons at risk for depression. Signs of depression include changes in sleep and appetite, disinterest, feeling hopeless, excessive guilt, tearfulness, lack of initiative, difficulty concentrating, irritability, social isolation, decreased energy, trouble concentrating and making decisions, and thoughts of death or suicide.

Fortunately, there are a number of effective treatments available for clinical depression. A recent study conducted by Dr. Barry Rover, a geriatric psychiatrist in Philadelphia, found that adults with age-related macular degeneration responded quite well to a type of therapy called behavioral activation. Simply put, behavioral activation seeks to facilitate awareness between action and mood states, based on the principle that actions cause emotions. Patients are asked to engage in actions that promote positive mood. In this particular study, participants focused their attention on engaging in activities they had once loved (for example, baking, socializing, reading) using adaptive technologies. The study found those persons who engaged in talk therapy and behavioral activation were better able to ward off depression than those persons who received talk therapy alone.

Perhaps this explains the consistent positive outcomes reported by veterans who attend the Gulf Coast Blind Rehabilita­tion Center, where behavioral activation is a fundamental part of the program. With the aid of assistive devices and adaptive technology, veterans learn skills to engage in previously-enjoyed activities, such as fishing, leatherwork, cooking and related pursuits.

Additionally, orientation and mobility training enhances navi­gation abilities and restores independence. Though individ­ual and group support is often a necessary and beneficial compo­nent of adjustment to blindness, the integration of behavioral activation in

rehabili­tation services is of tremendous value and shows robust protec­tion against clinical depression.



In partnership with the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Library of Congress, the BEP will begin a pilot program where NLS patrons can pre-order an iBill® currency reader by calling 1-888-657-7323. Once you register, you will be on the list for the first shipment of readers to be mailed in January. If you are not an NLS patron and would like a currency reader starting January 2, 2015 you can down load the application that will be posted on the website.

As of the printing of this newsletter, the editor has heard that some veterans have already received it.


VA Implements Second Phase of Choice Card Program

VA Implements Second Phase of Choice Card Program

Washington, DC – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced that it began mailing Veterans Choice Cards on November 17 to Veterans currently waiting more than 30-days from their preferred date or the date that is medically determined by their physician for an appointment at a VA facility.

 “VA continues to focus on implementation of this new temporary benefit so that Veterans receive the timely quality care they need in a way that reduces confusion and inefficiencies,” said Secretary Robert A. McDonald, who penned an open letter to Veterans announcing the implementation of the Choice Card program.

The Choice Program is a new, temporary benefit that allows some Veterans to receive health care in their communities rather than waiting for a VA appointment or traveling to a VA facility. The first round of cards along with a letter explaining the program was issued on November 5 to Veterans who are eligible based on their place of residence. VA is now engaging in the next phase of its rollout –eligibility explanation letters are being sent to Veterans waiting more than 30 days from their preferred date to be seen or considered medically necessary by their physician.

To improve service delivery, VA has prioritized efforts to accelerate Veterans off of wait lists and into clinics through the Accelerated Care Initiative begun over the summer. Through this initiative, VA medical centers have increased access to care inside and outside of VA, added more clinic hours and work days, deployed mobile medical units and shared their best practices from VA’s high-performing facilities throughout the organization.

 Significant improvements have resulted nationally:

        Scheduling more than 1.2 million more appointments in the past four months than in the same period last year. In total, VA medical centers have scheduled over 19 million Veteran appointments from June to October 1, 2014;

        Reducing the national new patient Primary Care wait time by 18 percent;

        Completing 98 percent of appointments within 30 days of the Veterans’ preferred date, or the date determined to be medically necessary by a physician;

        Authorizing 1.1 million non-VA care authorizations, a 47-percent increase over the same period last year; and

        Increasing the amount of time providers could deliver care to Veterans by increasing the amount of clinic hours in primary and specialty care and through adding weekend and evening clinics at our medical centers.

 VA is America’s largest integrated health care system with over 1,700 sites of care, serving approximately 9 million Veterans enrolled in health care services.  The Choice Program is part of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (VACAA), enacted nearly three months ago, to enable VA to meet the demand for Veterans’ health care in the short-term.

 For more information about the Choice Program, call 1-866- 606-8198 or visit