BLINDED VETERANS ASSOCIATION

Blinded Veterans Helping Blinded Veterans

aka BVA   |   Washington, DC   |  https://bva.org/

Mission

Mission: BVA serves as ambassadors and mentors for all veterans and their families coping with sight loss. Vision: BVA continually strives to better the lives of all who served in the Armed Forces living with sight loss through: expert advocacy, engaged membership, clear communication, and peer inspired self-reliance. Our BVA family epitomizes respect, honor, dedication and commitment to sustain a thriving, informed, patriotic and connected community. Why: BVA is the only congressionally chartered Veterans Service Organization created for, consisting of and led by visually impaired veterans focused on the issues, advocacy and mentorship vital to all veterans and families coping with sight loss regardless of service connection.

Ruling year info

1946

Executive Director

Mr. Donald D Overton Jr.

Main address

PO Box 90770

Washington, DC 20090 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

53-0214281

NTEE code info

Blind/Visually Impaired Centers, Services (P86)

Military/Veterans' Organizations (W30)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Our goal is to tackle and eliminate all problems that veterans suffering from vision loss encounter. We advocate for and mentor veterans about problems such as accessibility, quality of care they receive, processing VA claims, overcoming sight loss and other countless issues.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Public Education and Communication

At the foundation of all BVA communications and public relations efforts nationally is the BVA Bulletin, currently a quarterly periodical sent to all blinded veterans and their families for whom the Association has contact information. The publication is also mailed to dozens of libraries, health care institutions, veteran service offices, and nonprofit organizations. BVA also maintains and updates a website with useful information about our programs, as well as other efforts to educate the public about the challenges of blindness and what BVA does for blinded veterans.

Population(s) Served
Veterans
People with vision impairments

The Blinded Veterans Association's Congressional Charter designates BVA as the organizational advocate for all blinded veterans before the Executive and Legislative Branches of Government.

Population(s) Served
Veterans
People with vision impairments

BVA is a membership driven organization. A membership in BVA is a membership in the organization as well as in the area Regional Grouit does grant acceptance to the audio cassette version of the quarterly BVA Bullet which so many members find useful in staying informed, plus opportunities to meet new members, join friends, and have a voice at the annual conventions.

Population(s) Served
Veterans

BVA Veteran Service Officers (VSO's) constitute what sister organizations often refer to as National Service Officers. They are veterans and legally blind themselves, working in seven different regions throughout the United States, including Puerto Rico. Their goal is to locate and assist blinded veterans in overcoming the challenges inherent in sight loss. VSO's are responsible for linking veterans with local services, assuring that the newly blinded take advantage of VA Blind Rehabilitation Services, and assisting them with VA claims when necessary. When blinded veterans are ready to return to the workforce, BVA VSO's can assist them with employment training and placement.

The newest aspect of our Veteran Services, Operation Peer Support, connects newly returned veterans with Visual Impairment Injuries from Iraq & Afghanistan with veterans who experienced the same transition after WWII, Korea, & Vietnam. The process of recovery from any tragic or traumatic event is characterized by a period of grieving followed by rehabilitation and restoration. Substantial changes are required as a result of such shattering events before a meaningful and productive new life can be achieved. Similar to the grief experienced by individuals following any catastrophic event, blinded veterans must also grieve over their loss of vision. On an ongoing basis, Operation Peer Support seeks to support blinded veterans and their families who are still struggling with the difficulties associated with loss of vision.

Population(s) Served
Veterans

Spouses, dependent children, and grandchildren of blinded veterans are eligible for the annual Kathern F. Gruber Scholarship and Thomas H. Miller Awards to assist them with their higher education tuition. The scholarships are awarded on the basis of merit through an application process that is evaluated by a committee. Gruber and Miller scholarships are for one year only but recipients can re-apply and receive the award up to four times. The blinded veteran family member is not required to be a BVA member for the spouse or child to receive a scholarship. Qualifications for both programs are the same except for an added emphasis on music and fine arts for the Miller award.

Kathern "Kay" Gruber was one of BVA's early pioneers as an advisor to the organization and became acquainted with the organization while serving in the mid-1940s as the American Foundation for the Blind's Director of Services for the War Blind. Kay attended all of the BVA conventions for several decades, sitting through all of the Board of Directors meetings and offering counsel and advice. She also served on a key advisory group in 1948 that made recommendations to VA regarding the care and rehabilitation of the war blinded. She further assisted in the establishment of the first comprehensive Blind Rehabilitation Center at the VA Medical Center in Hines, Illinois. The BVA scholarship program was named after Kathern Gruber at the BVA 40th National Convention (1985) in San Diego, California.

For portions of four decades, Thomas H. Miller has served as an advocate for blinded veterans and their families, first as a member of the BVA Board of Directors and later as a full-time staff member of the organization. From 1979 to 1984, he occupied the elected positions of National Secretary, Vice President, and President. Shortly thereafter, he was hired as a full-time employee in 1986, assuming the post of Director of Government Relations until his appointment as Executive Director in 1994. Tom has amassed a lengthy list of contributions, accomplishments, and professional relationships that have enhanced BVA's image and prominence for years to come. His service to America's blinded veterans, and their families, is unprecedented and matched by few others. Tom was severely wounded, losing his sight in both eyes, in a landmine explosion in December 1967 while supervising the securing of an enemy minefield in Vietnam.

Population(s) Served
Students
Veterans

Team BVA is a program designed by the Blinded Veterans Association to assist blind and visually impaired veterans and their families with educational resources and adaptive sports in order to regain independence, social skills, and confidence through rehabilitation

Population(s) Served
People with vision impairments
Veterans

Where we work

Accreditations

Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance 2009

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of mentors recruited

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

People with vision impairments, Caregivers, Widows and widowers, Chronically ill people, Social and economic status

Related Program

Veteran Services and Volunteer Service Programs

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Recruited new peer-inspired Ambassadors to serve as mentors to their fellow blinded veterans across the country.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Mission:
BVA serves as ambassadors and mentors for all veterans and their families coping with sight loss.

Vision:
BVA continually strives to better the lives of all who served in the Armed Forces living with sight loss through: expert advocacy, engaged membership, clear communication, and peer inspired self-reliance. Our BVA family epitomizes respect, honor, dedication and commitment to sustain a thriving, informed, patriotic and connected community.

Why:
BVA is the only congressionally chartered Veterans Service Organization created for, consisting of and led by visually impaired veterans focused on the issues, advocacy and mentorship vital to all veterans and families coping with sight loss regardless of service connection.

Congressionally Chartered Purpose of BVA:
(1) to operate as a not-for-profit corporation exclusively for charitable, educational, patriotic, and civic improvement purposes;
(2) to promote the welfare of blinded veterans so that, notwithstanding their disabilities, they may take their rightful place in the community and work with their fellow citizens toward the creation of a peaceful world;
(3) to preserve and strengthen a spirit of fellowship among blinded veterans so that they may give mutual aid and assistance to one another; and
(4) to maintain and extend the institutions of American freedom and to encourage loyalty to the Constitution and laws of the United States and of the states in which they reside.

Strategic Priorities: BVA accomplishes our mission via four main priorities:

Goal #1: Being recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Government, and Public as the leader in advocacy for blinded veterans and their families
Goal #2: Mentoring highly engaged, inspired, and connected members.
Goal #3: Achieving Operational Excellence
Goal #4: Being exceptional and transparent stewards of our donors dollars

BVA's key strengths lie in our experienced program staff, almost all of whom are blind or visually impaired veterans themselves, and our nationwide network of members. Our members serve as role models mentoring newly blinded veterans. We're blessed by a network of dedicated volunteers who assist with regional events and other activities. Over the years, BVA has forged partnerships and working relationships with other Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs), whose support and collaboration have been effective in advocating for legislation enhancing blinded veterans quality of life. We continually strive to enhance our collaboration with other blindness advocacy groups.

BVA's Bulletin & website provide important news and information to our network of stakeholders about available resources and programs. WE partner closely with the VA; many of our National Service Officers work out of offices in VA buildings. The BVA Convention is an annual event that takes place in a different city every year and is attended by BVA members from across the country, as well as representatives of the VA and many organizations which provide services to the blind and visually impaired. The Convention is one of our greatest opportunities to disseminate crucial information to our membership about legislative changes, new programs, and the latest in adaptive technology and research.

BVA was chartered by Congress in 1958, and has been a strong voice for the needs of America's blinded and visually impaired veterans ever since. BVA's advocacy on behalf of blinded veterans has led to many VA programs that serve blind and visually impaired veterans, and our own programs are free to any blinded veteran in need.

One of BVA's proudest achievements is the creation of the VA's network of Blind Rehabilitation Centers, of which there are now thirteen across the country. BVA was a key part of the efforts to establish the centers, and has been involved in the recent expansion from ten to thirteen centers. In addition to these centers, BVA worked with the VA in establishing a total of 55 Low Vision and Blind Rehabilitative Outpatient Clinics since 2007, which improve access to care for blind veterans. BVA also played an instrumental role in the establishment of the Visual Impairment Service Team (VIST) Program by participating in a pilot outreach program in 1967 to identify eligible veterans and encourage them to take full advantage of VA benefits and services. The key staff person on the VIST team is the VIST Coordinator, which at first was only part-time. BVA quickly recognized that a part-time VIST Coordinator was not adequate and urged VA to make these positions full-time.

The organization convinced Congress to earmark $5 million in the 1995 VA Appropriation for Blind Rehabilitation Service (BRS), which enabled BRS to establish 15 Blind Rehabilitation Outpatient Specialists (BROS) positions. Today that number has grown from 24 in 2005 to 75. These Orientation and Mobility Instructors often have dual certification and provide veterans with independent training skills in clinics, hospitals, and veterans' homes. Our work has also resulted in meeting BVA goals to increase the number of full time VIST to 118 positions with 43 part-time VIST positions. BVA is most proud of the creation of the Vision Center of Excellence, long a legislative goal of BVA, which opened its doors this year. The VCE's goal is to promote research on treating vision injuries and how to prevent them.

Our OPS program, created in 2006, is a point of pride for BVA. OPS reaches the newest generation of blinded and visually impaired veterans to help prepare them for the challenges ahead. BVA members and OPS alumni have a unique insight into the experiences of their fellow blinded veterans, and serve as mentors and role-models. OPS participants find the program so helpful that many of them return as alumni for later sessions and also participated in an exchange with our sister organization in Britain, Blind Veterans UK. The VA estimates that there are 156,000 American veterans currently living with vision loss, and BVA has reached about 20,000 of them. Reaching those blinded veterans we have not yet helped is BVA's on-going priority. BVA is committed to providing services and support to any blinded veteran, free of charge, for as long as there is a need.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    We serve blind and visually impaired veterans of the United States Armed Forces, their caregivers, and families.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Case management notes, Community meetings/Town halls, Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees, Suggestion box/email,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    We have decentralized our Veterans Service Program deploying accredited claims agents nationwide within the communities we serve, as well as ensuring bilingual staff.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    We have identified opportunities for expanding program and service offerings, as well as deployed technological enhancements ensuring access to programs and services regardless of geographic location or available technologies. We've also increased gender specific programs and services.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback,

Financials

BLINDED VETERANS ASSOCIATION
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

BLINDED VETERANS ASSOCIATION

Board of directors
as of 02/22/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Mr. Joseph McNeil

US Army (Ret.)

Term: 2021 - 2023


Board co-chair

Mr. Danny Wallace

US Army (Ret.)

Term: 2021 - 2023

Joseph McNeil

US Army (Ret.)

Daniel Wallace

US Army (Ret.)

Tracy Ferro

US Air Force (Ret.)

Kenneth Asam

US Army (Ret.)

Darryl Goldsmith

USMC (Ret.)

Dr. Thomas Zampieri

US Army (Ret.)

Elizabeth Holmes

US Army (Ret.)

Brian Harris

US Army (Ret.)

Calvin Poole

US Army (Ret.)

Kevin Jackson

USMC (Ret.)

Leon Collier

US Army (Ret.)

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 2/20/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person with a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 02/01/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.