Blinded Veteran Finds the Way to Help Others

I have been a member of the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) since 1968. I lost my sight from injuries sustained when wounded on January 6th, 1968 In Vietnam. I have been actively involved with veterans, especially blinded veterans, for the past twenty years.

I have served as chaplain and chapter commander of DAV Fort Sherman 9 in the past. I have been on the BVA National Board of Directors since 2007, serving as the director of district four, an area that covered 11 Western states. I was elected as the national secretary in 2011; I am finishing up my time on the board as the immediate past president.

In 1968, shortly after losing my sight, I attended the VA Western Blind Rehabilitation Center in Palo Alto, California, where I gained the skills I needed to adjust to being blind. The blind rehab services provided by the VA are very satisfactory.

I am concerned that many blinded veterans are not aware of the programs available to them. All visually impaired veterans honorably discharged are eligible for services, which includes low vision. Loss of sight does not have to service-connected; many veterans receive blind rehab services as a result of macular degeneration, glaucoma and other conditions. The point of contact is the visual impairment services team (VIST) coordinator. VIST coordinators are located at most VA medical centers across the nation. Suzanne Bennatt is the VIST coordinator located in Spokane.

“Does this sound like someone you know?” Help them find help.

If you know a veteran in the Spokane area that you believe would benefit from these services, contact VIST coordinator Suzanne Bennatt at 509-434-7670. Office hours and location for Bennatt are 7:30 to 4:00, Monday-Wednesday, A142 Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center Spokane, WA.