Ana səhifə

A publication of the central blind rehabilitation center edward hines jr. Va hospital

Yüklə 1.24 Mb.
ölçüsü1.24 Mb.





Summer 2013

Table of Contents

Accessibility options have been implemented to enable our visually impaired readers ease and greater access to articles that are of interest to them. If e-readers float the curser over the list of articles and use the commands “control and click” they will be launched to the article of interest they select without having to scroll through each article.


Mission StatementProduced By 2

Chief’s MessagePerformance Improvement Staff UpdatesCBRC Salutes the MilitaryBRC Recreational ProgramBlind Educational Experience PROUD AWARD 6

Inspirational Story 8Meet Robert Stewart 12

Gracious GwenH.B.C.A. Reunion RESOURCES 15 16

Mission Statement

The mission of the Blind Rehabilitation Center is to provide high quality blind rehabilitation service through the provision of a broad range of programs. We are a CARF Accredited Program.

Contents are not necessarily the official views of or endorsed by the U.S. Government or Department of Veterans Affairs. Links may take you outside of the Department of VA web-site. VA does not endorse nor is responsible for the content of the linked websites. Links will open in a new window.
Produced By:

The Torch is a publication of the Central Blind Rehabilitation Center

and Minuteman Press,

Hickory Hills, IL

For comments or subscriptions

please contact:

C.B.R.C. Torch

PO Box 5000 (124)

Hines, IL 60141-5000 (708) 202-2273

Chief’s Message

Summer 2013 promises to be a very bountiful year as the rain has returned and everything is blooming. We are all looking forward to see old friends at the alumni reunion in June. The courtyard and gardens are being cleaned and prepared for your visit.

As always the reunions occur at the Blind Center every other year. This is an opportunity for us to renew acquaintances and reestablish friendships. This will be my 17th reunion. I look forward to this reunion more than any other as it will be my last reunion as the Service Chief. I have been contemplating retirement for several years. As my daughter completes school next year and my sons are well established in their lives, it is time for my wife and me to focus on the next phase of life. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve each and every one of you. I am fortunate I have been given the privilege of being the caretaker of such a wonderful program and group of people.

Performance Improvement

Changes abound in the Blind Rehabilitation Center as technology continues to improve with ease-of-use and range of functionality.

To address these changes we have continued to schedule monthly educational afternoons for all staff. Sharing ideas, strategies, and technologies among departments has enhanced individualized training programs. Recently we completed a training program with the entire staff. The focus was on the variety and range of optical devices available to meet Veterans’ needs. This cross training program focused on the latest in lighting, magnification, and portability of current prosthetics available to meet the needs of our Veteran population.

Staff Updates
On October 4, 2012, Conall Niall Moran, weighing in at 4lbs- 12 ozs, joined Keely and Kieran Moran. A little more than a month later, on November 18, 2012, Gavin Lucas weighed in at 7 lbs – 11 ozs to join mom and dad, Jennifer and JJ Moledecki.
This year, on March 5th, Kristen and Kurt Kirchwehm welcomed 8 lb- 5 oz Agnes Jeanette. Amanda Widmer and Alan Hawkins followed on April 6th by welcoming 7 lb – 15 oz Sawyer Rose.

And that’s not all, Maggie and Mike Elgersma are expecting twins in early July; Beth and Andy Tobias are expecting another baby near the end of August; and Geo and Jean Athappilly are expecting a son in September.

Martha Psaromatis and Belen Loos, two of our long-time Registered Nurses working in the Blind Center are planning to retire in the near future.

CBRC Salutes the Military

From Keely Moran

The Hines Blind Rehabilitation Center (BRC) recognizes the sacrifices each and every Veteran has made for their country. Our Veterans have served as reservists to active duty in each branch of service: Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy, Merchant Marines, and National Guard. Many do not know that the Blind Center also serves men and women of the Department of Justice who received injuries during the line of duty.

Some of the ways the BRC shows support are by celebrating each branch birthday and acknowledging Veteran graduation each week. For the past four years the BRC has celebrated each Veteran’s successful graduation from our program. Every week the staff and Veterans gather to recognize the momentous achievements that have been earned by our Veterans during their program. This is an opportunity for the instructor and Veteran to share their journey. Each Veteran then has the opportunity to stand in front of the banner for their branch of the service and proudly display their Certificate of Completion.
In 2010 the BRC began to celebrate the formation and birth of each branch of our military. The branches are recognized not only for their specific missions but also for their long history upholding and defending our inalienable rights as defined by the U.S. Constitution. For each branch, the BRC takes time to recognize those Veterans who served and to give them a personal flag to display. Each birthday is followed by cake to celebrate.
The Hines Blind Rehabilitation Center is proud to support all who choose to serve their country in the past, present, and future.

BRC Recreational Program

By Melissa Winter

The fly tying group we started in February has been a huge success! There have been 26 Veterans who have made different types of flies for fly fishing. We look forward to continuing to make flies and to go fishing this summer.
Another new activity will begin at the BRC this month. We are going to shoot archery with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. I have worked with the staff from RIC and from the archery bow range to develop a frame for the visually impaired. The frame allows you to feel where your feet need to be and also allows for your hand to feel where it needs to be placed to aim for the target. I tried this device at the archery bow range and on my first attempt hit the target!
The golf clubs have been organized and dusted off once again at the BRC. We have 16 dates for golf this year at country clubs throughout the Chicago area. We are looking forward to another year. We appreciate all the wonderful volunteers at the different country clubs and enjoy a delicious lunch at the end of golf.
This summer we are also looking at going back to Lake Michigan for sailing, the Chicago River for kayaking, continuing tandem biking at a new location. We are looking at starting another new outing to the Adler Planetarium.
TEE Tournament applications are available now. Veterans can contact their VIST coordinator for the application or contact Kirk Sickels via the TEE Tournament website.

Blind Educational Experience

By Laura Gaynor

On February 27, 2013, for the second year, many of the Hines Blind Rehabilitation Center (BRC) staff organized an immersion activity for a dozen Ophthalmological residents and researchers. This activity was designed to give the residents a better understanding of what it means to have a visual impairment. Each resident was blindfolded before they entered into the training area and remained blindfolded for about an hour and a half as they went to each department (CATS, Living Skills, Manual Skills, Orientation and Mobility, Recreational Therapy and Visual Skills).
Staff from each skill area devised a plan that allowed the residents to optimize the limited time they had at each station. Both Guide and Jaws access technologies were demonstrated in CATS. They were instructed to type sentences and navigate the system with a series of keyboard commands. While in Living Skills, they had an opportunity to make a BLT sandwich using a variety of kitchen techniques. In Manual Skills, they learned adaptive measuring skills and used power tools. Introduction to the cane, diagonal technique and use of electronic travel aids was covered in Orientation and Mobility. Recreational Therapy showed Descriptive Video Service and adaptive games, whereas Visual Skills used various visual simulators while reading under a CCTV and engaging in scanning techniques to locate colored cones throughout the halls.
Each Ophthalmological resident filled out a pre and post survey.

Overall, feedback showed positive changes in their attitudes towards blind/low vision rehabilitation. Approximately, 85% of residents indicated they felt uncomfortable explaining blind rehabilitation before the emersion exercise. After the experience 100% of the residents identified they were more comfortable and felt prepared to discuss blind rehabilitation. In addition, 75% of participants felt equipped to suggest our blind rehabilitation programs and after their experience 100% indicated that they were now fully prepared to do so. This is a small part of the yearly outreach by staff. We will continue to promote productive ways and experiences for people to obtain information of the mission of the Hines Blind Rehabilitation Center.


By Scott B. Smith

Daniel L. Smith, Computer Access Department Supervisor, was presented the 2013 Excellence in Rehabilitation Award at the AFB Leadership Conference in Chicago, Illinois.
Dan has not only made contributions to our field, but more importantly, he has made a positive impact in the lives of thousands of blinded Veterans.
Dan joined the Orientation and Mobility (O&M) department at Hines in 1983. Dan transferred from O&M to a one person research department. He conducted research and measured the impact for training on blinded Veterans who were participating in the rehabilitation program. Dan regularly submitted creative ideas on leveraging electronic travel aids and encouraging the use of assistive technology. A few years later, he became the head of the Computer Access Training department. In this role, Dan has encouraged Veterans to reach new heights of independence and ensured that they had the tools needed to access electronic information by providing innovative and comprehensive training. Hines BRC is now recognized as one of the most progressive assistive computer training programs in the country. Dan contributed to the Adaptive Technology chapter of the Foundation of O&M textbook, 1997 and 2010 editions and co authored the chapter.
Dan was recognized for his past accomplishments, but also because he continues to make meaningful contributions, as evidenced by his involvement in the development of a technology center for Veterans in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation service at Hines VA Hospital.
The award was presented to him by George Abbott, George Abbott, Director AFB eLearning Center and past chair of the Illinois Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired professional organization.

National DAV


Melody Angelini

Congratulations to Melody!
She is the national volunteer winner for The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) 2013 George H. Seal Memorial Trophy. Her nomination was submitted to and chosen by the national office. She will be flown to Florida in August to receive this prestigious award. 
Melody Angelini has committed an enormous amount of time at the Central Blind Rehabilitation Center (CBRC) at Hines VA Hospital. She has provided over 15,000 hours to improve the lives of Veterans. Melody works closely with the administration and staff. She has helped provide a non-threatening opportunity for Veterans to practice the skills they learn at the BRC. In addition, she continues the rehabilitation process outside of the normal class schedule.
Melody began volunteering on Thursday evenings at the BRC in 1977. She assisted other volunteers from the Military Order of the Purple Heart in making the Veterans feel important at the weekly dances and social gatherings. By 1980, she worked closely with Patrick Sullivan, Oak Lawn Parks Commissioner, in organizing the Hospitalized War Veterans organization. The monthly activities have included: formal Easter dinners, dances, sail boat outings, and Brookfield Zoo trips.
In 1981, Melody and her late husband and BRC graduate Lou Angelini founded the Hines Blind Center Alumni Association. The purpose was to develop a supporting network of Blind and Visually Impaired Veterans who completed training at the CBRC. Soon after the charter was formed, Melody assisted in planning a reunion for Veterans to return to the BRC. The first reunion occurred in 1981 and a total of 16 reunions have been held since. Blind and Visually Impaired Veterans are able to return to the BRC to meet with other Veterans who attended the program. They have an opportunity to reminisce about their rehabilitation experiences. Melody served as the editor for the Hines Torch for many years, which is the publication you are reading. The publication is sent to alumni and staff four times a year.
Currently, Melody remains dedicated for providing several monthly activities for the Veterans undergoing blind rehabilitation. Current activities include bowling, Brookfield Zoo outings, Museum of Science and Industry trips, Chicago Architecture boat tours, classical concerts, and theatre outings. Veterans attending these highly organized activities receive food, photographs, and souvenirs.
Melody has been instrumental for celebrating the holidays with the Veterans. She cooks meals on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years for the Veterans who remain at the CBRC during the holidays. She has organized Super Bowl, Fourth of July parties, and numerous cookouts.
Melody has recruited other volunteers, too. She has a network of over 10 volunteers including her Granddaughter, Alexis. She assists Veterans at the VA Sponsored National Sports Events, and the TEE Golf Tournament.
As a receptionist at the lobby desk, Melody supports the administration and staff. In this role she continues to serve Veterans by reading for them, directing classroom location, and otherwise providing other necessary assistance.
Thank You, Melody!

Inspirational Story

by Kathy Smith

Ken Bentley is a Michigan Veteran who recently completed the program at the Hines Blind Rehabilitation Center. He came to the BRC with the goal of learning to read the display on his insulin pump. With the instruction from Chrissy Delbridge, in Visual Skills, he became skilled in the Merlin CCTV. He learned to change the injection site and tubing of his insulin pump with instruction from the night nurse, Linda Kolendowicz. He said “It takes practice on getting the feel of it.” Initially, Ken was not sure if he wanted to learn computer skills. Ken has successfully learned to use the Guide adaptive computer to type, check spelling, communicate by email with friends and family, and search for information on the Internet! In addition, he received instruction on adaptive wood working skills and completed a wooden jewelry box he planned to give to his wife. Ken also learned cane skills which allow him to travel to the Chicago Loop. “It is easier to travel in high traffic intersections because I feel safer with all the noise when I am trying to cross streets” was his statement post cane skills and travel to Chicago. Overall, Ken feels that the BRC at Hines is a “remarkable” program with “wonderful” staff and nurses who provide individualized instruction.
As the Team Coordinator and Communications instructor, I was fortunate to be a part of this Veteran’s program. I am very proud of Ken’s accomplishments especially in the area of Diabetes control. Ken really put his heart into his program. He took control of his diabetes by exercising daily and managing his medications independently! I am truly inspired by Ken!

AER & AFB Leadership Conference
In April, there were three staff members from the BRC who presented at the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired state conference in Chicago.
Michael McCarthy presented ‘Tactile Maps – Where are we in 2013?’ His presentation was aimed to summarize the past, present, and future uses of Tactile Mapping for Orientation and Mobility in Blind Rehabilitation
Joe Jorgenson and Laura Gaynor presented a comparison and contrast among various simplified adaptive technologies, including Guide, CDesk and SAMNet. The difficulties of hands-free computer use were a primary focus of their presentation. By addressing these technologies, it is likely developers and educators will improve collaboration for exceeding the technological needs of those who are visually impaired.
Inspirational Veteran

Meet Robert Stewart
Occasionally, Veterans who have completed training at the Blind Center return for further training when they experience further vision loss. However, what if vision loss and hearing loss occurred? One of our recently discharged Veterans found himself in this situation. Robert “ Bobby” is a Vietnam Veteran who currently lives in Ohio. Bobby has a disease called Usher’s syndrome.
Usher’s syndrome is the most common condition affecting both hearing and vision. Usher syndrome is a degenerative disease. This means that over time the organs (in this case the eyes and ears) continue to deteriorate. The major symptoms of Usher’s syndrome are hearing loss and an eye disorder called retinitis pigmentosa or RP. RP causes night-blindness and a loss of peripheral vision or side vision. Eventually, central vision will also decrease.
As his hearing and vision have continued to decrease, Bobby has visited the Blind Center several times. He is now unable to hear conversations and not able to lip-read visually. This prevented him from interacting with family and friends. Imagine being at a restaurant and not being able to hear the server ask if you want ‘soup or salad’. Or imagine when asking for help in a department store and you can’t hear the salesperson. Bobby manages these communication hurdles every day.
Most of the people who attend the BRC receive computer training using a range of technological devices. Communication and information gathering goals can be met by instruction with products such as iPhone, iPad, Macintosh computers, and Windows-based computers. Screen readers or screen enlargement programs can also be used. However, these programs are designed for the visually impaired who can hear. Conversely, devices for the hearing impaired such as TTY/TDD (Text Telephone/Telecommunication Device for the Deaf) do not address the specific needs of the deaf and blind. Some TTY/TDD telephone devices have large print displays. In actuality, the text will only enlarge to about 1 inch in height. Bobby’s vision requires text to be about 3 inches in height on a monitor.
So, what was the answer to meet Bobby’s communication and computer goals? Simply put, the answer is specialized technology with specialized skills. During his program, Bobby learned to use a laptop computer with the Zoom Text program. This magnifies an external screen and speaks some of the information on the screen. For most users with some vision, this program works well. But, for Bobby, he needed to use a program called, “JAWS” that would enable him to use a Braille display called the Focus 40. The Braille display acts as his “ears” allowing him to verify information on the computer monitor with his fingertips. A Braille embosser allowed him to print Braille so he could refer back to notes he typed on the computer.
These devices and programs allowed him to focus on tasks such as word processing, e-mail, online banking, record keeping, and browsing the Internet. However to do this, in addition to learning each of the programs and operations of the devices, he needed to expand his knowledge of contracted Braille and increase his reading speed to optimize his ability to utilize these tasks. Undaunted by the complexity of the technology, Bobby demonstrated his unwavering motivation to learn. He spent many hours in the evenings and weekends practicing his lessons. He even jokingly referred to his Braille lessons as “Nightmare on Braille Street.” Anyone who has ever studied contracted Braille can relate!
He also desired to communicate with others via phone. To use his home phone, he logged on to a website called, “Sprint CapTel” to receive and place calls. With Sprint CapTel, he was able to speak and communicate with the other person on the phone. When the other person speaks, a human transcriber would type the message for Bobby to read what was spoken. Another concern he vocalized was the inability to access his phone voicemail messages. This was resolved through training on an application called Google Voice. This automated system transcribed voice messages into text messages with access through his computer or iPhone.
How can Bobby use a phone when not at home? This was overcome through use of an iPhone app called “Hamilton CapTel” which operates very much like Sprint Captel. He was able to read the message with his Braille display. For short conversations he could use his portable magnifier to read the text. The Focus 40 enabled him to access many other apps on the iPhone such as calendar, notes, and the weather.
In addition to computer and Braille training, he studied American Sign Language to increase his ability to communicate non-verbally. He focused on increasing his vocabulary which included basic greetings, descriptions, and common phrases.
Overall, Bobby learned an abundant amount of programs, devices, keyboard commands, and new skills while at the BRC. In addition, he learned how each device and skill combined collectively to meet his needs. The hardware and software training he received allows him to more freely access printed text, information on the web, and communicate with people outside his home. His demeanor became noticeably more positive and outgoing as he saw the possibilities expand before him. In his words, “Watch out world!” Bobby Stewart is definitely someone you should know!

Two letters from

Our Graduates
If you think about blind Vets and the stress they need to manage, it would drive most of us insane!
A call to the VA can help most Vets overcome these issues. Please contact your local VIST Coordinator he/she will help you through this process.
A personalized program at the Hines Blind VA Center has made an instrumental difference in my life.

They put me on the right path. Now I have new goals.

By Ralph Tesser
As a blinded Veteran, I have been to the Blind Rehabilitation Center (BRC) three times. When I leave, I always have new and improved experiences for managing my vision loss.

The entire staff has always been so positive and very informative during my training at BRC.

In addition, they are very professional, knowledgeable, and respectful for my individual needs.

I highly recommend BRC for all Veterans with low vision/blindness.

By William Diamond

Where Did

Get Our Logo?
When entering the Hines Blind Rehabilitation Center (BRC), you may notice a large mahogany plaque proudly hanging in the main Lobby. It was created by Kurt Litzkuhn, a blinded WWII Veteran who went through our training program in the late 70’s. The plaque immediately became the symbol of the BRC when it was presented to the Center in 1980. It is comprised of an eagle with spread wings perched upon a shield with two white canes crossed mounted on the shield. The shield covers an anchor and a rifle with a star mounted off to the right side. The shield and canes are symbolic of the BRC’s commitment to all branches of service. The star, rifle, and anchor represent the Army Air Corps, Army, Marine Corps, and Navy.
Litzkuhn spent three months at the BRC where he learned to adjust to his vision loss with assistance from John Malmazian, Chief, and Instructors of the Blind Center. During Litzkuhn’s stay, he honed his carving hobby and started work on the plaque. On December 17, 1980, the plaque was dedicated to Malmazian with the following dedication:
“Almighty God we pray to thee

Let the legend of this emblem prevail

The cane is our help to walk in peace

The shield will protect us from evil and harm. The anchor will give us security in our God-given land. The rifle shall deter our enemy and give us safety.

The star is our hope to lighten our way to contentment. The mighty eagle is our government which shall protect us from all enemies at home and abroad.”
This emblem was later adopted as the national symbol for BRC in 2010.

Gracious Gwen
In 1942 Gwen was too young to enlist in the Marines. She patiently waited and eventually became one of the youngest women in the Marines. Gwen was sworn-in on her birthday. She was eager to begin her military career as her women friends enlisted in the Navy (WAVE). As a Marine during WWII, Gwen worked at the Marine headquarters in Washington DC. She enjoyed her office location which was next to the Arlington National Cemetery. Her responsibilities were organizing the listed personal files and assisting the office manager. The office environment was very busy.
She thoroughly enjoyed her military career. She received an outstanding education and created great friendships. The friends corresponded for many years as they had exchanged letters and pictures.
For recreation during her military years Gwen and her friends would take a truck to a dance hall, swim at the new pool, and go horseback riding. Horseback riding was the only time she had a pass to be out of uniform.
Gwen married a man from the Army. They have four children and seven grandchildren.
In 2003 Gwen became one of our patients at the Blind Rehabilitation Center. In 2004 she became a volunteer at the Center manual skills department.
Currently, Gwen lives a busy lifestyle in a senior apartment complex. She plays bingo, cards, attends religious services, and frequents dinner outings.
Gwen attributes her longevity and active life style to moderation and being sensible. She exercises, eats healthy, and performs chores.
Gwen turns 90 years old in May.
Happy birthday, Gwen!

H.B.C.A. Reunion


By Melody Angelini

Since 1980 the Hines Blind Center Alumni, Inc. has been meeting in the Chicago area for their membership meeting. In 1983 the decision was made to have the meetings every other year due to expenses.
The Reunion Committee searches the Chicago area to locate the most economical hotel. For those who feel the room rate of $89.99 is expensive, we suggest making arrangements for a roommate to share the expense.
The William Tell is billed as the world’s largest “Holidome” facility. Parking is free. The Hotel is conveniently located near I-55 (Stevenson Expressway) and I-294 (Chicago tri-state toll-way).
Hotel reservations need to be personally made by the individual participant. DO NOT SEND IT TO THE REUNION COMMITTEE or the PO Box. Be sure to use the code “HBC” to ensure the special rate of $89 to HBCA members. The phone for the Holiday Inn is (708) 354-4200 or you can make your reservations online at Room reservations need to be received at the hotel by May 20, 2013.
We suggest using Chicago Midway Airport if at all possible. Once you arrive at the airport, retrieve your luggage, and proceed to the pick-up area. You can make arrangements with the Holiday Inn Shuttle Service by calling (708) 354-4200. Be sure to have your white cane or dog guide visible to aid in your identification. There will be no charge for this service.
If you are not using the hotel shuttle, contact in writing Melody Angelini at PO Box 58 Hines IL 60141or email at so we can help with other arrangements.
Program Itinerary

We encourage pre-registration as soon as possible. This enables the preparation of your packets and the number of attending members. This is required by the hotel catering services and the picnic caterers. Caterers have tightened their budgets. Food preparations are kept to a minimal. It is essential that we receive your information by June 1, 2013.

On Thursday June 20, 2013 reunion participants may check in at the H.B.C.A. registration team.
Friday June 21st, 2013 is the day everyone is anticipating. Members will be able to participate in discussion groups on creating a Personal Learning Resource Center. Or you can enter in the “Challenge of Your Skills”. Various games will challenge the skills you learned during your training at the BRC. How well do you remember them?
You will also have the opportunity to tour the BRC. There will be ample time to visit with the staff at the BRC and see how we have evolved.
A luncheon will be served by the BRC staff at approximately 11:30 am. The menu remains almost identical to the past, featuring a barbeque theme. Due to the cost of food preparations the price for this event is $25.00 per person.
The Open Meeting will be held at the Blind Center around 2:30 pm in the second floor conference room. The meeting is opened to all H.B.C.A. members. Only members in good standing may vote on issues that may arise. Jerry Schutter, Director of the BRC, will be present as the facilitator for the meeting. This is when the newly elected officers will take their oath of office.
For those who remain on Friday night, there will be a hospitality night at the hotel. We will begin approximately 6:30 pm and relax with snacks and pleasant conversations.
Transportation to the hotel or airport, for those wishing to save a day’s room rate, will begin at 3:00 pm.

Pre-registration is necessary. Please contact: Melody R Angelini

PO Box 58

Hines IL 60141


For Veterans only

(Please contact your local VA)

By Jamie L. Ogarek


Hines VAH Internet Site

My Healthy Vet

First, how often do you check our site at  It’s loaded with wonderful information designed to improve your life. If you haven't signed up for My Healthy Vet, this may be the place to begin!  It is your medical VA documentation, appointments, lab reports, medical issues, refill prescriptions, and correspondences with your doctors.

Guitars For Vets

Have you ever wanted to learn to play guitar?  Contact Guitar for Vets and find out where the nearest VA facility offers this resource! This is a non-profit organization (federally registered) which began by a healing Veteran to help other Veterans work out stress through playing the guitar.  Guitars for Vets is available in fifteen states and more than 25 cities. How amazing it is to have an opportunity to receive ten free private lessons! An acoustic guitar may be issued after an assessment and lessons.   


Audiology/Hearing Loss Issues?

Currently, ALL Veterans are entitled to hearing aids if they are hearing impaired. To receive this service, a Veteran would have to be assessed by the VA Hospital. When hearing aids are issued, batteries, and repairs are included with this service. Once a Veteran is in the system, they can receive a six month supply of batteries by either calling (303-273-6200) or computer. Once the request is placed, the batteries will be sent to the Veteran’s home within a few days at no cost to the Veteran.



National Veterans Creative Arts Festival

Every year your local VA offers Veterans the opportunity to compete in a music and arts competition. The event encompasses a variety of mediums including creative writing, dance, drama, art, and music. Please register at your local VA prior to October in order to begin this process. Once registration is completed you can submit one piece to other VA Medical Centers. The judging process begins in April. By mid-June, the finalists will be selected to attend the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival. 

Contacts to identify local VA staff:

 Amy Kimbler  320-255-6486

National Director 320-255-6351


To get start with different types of crafts please use the contact information below. There are many different craft kits offered to Veterans free of charge including wood building kits, model kits and leather work, etc.  Please fill out “thank you” postcard to the donor which is included in the craft.   


National Veterans Golden Age Games

Are you beyond 55 years old and need to increase your metabolism? Do you like to compete in different sports events but have stopped due to your vision loss? If you receive your medical care through the VA, you have the opportunity to join weekly activities like bowling, track, etc. After training in the activity of your interest(s) offered through the VA, you can register for a week of high competition!  Every year there is an outing for Veterans across the United Stated to compete against each other. Each year it’s held in a different state. If this is of interest and you have been training weekly through the VA, your application needs to be filled out in the early spring. This year, it will occur May 30 through June 4 in Buffalo, New York. Most of the expenses are paid for the Veteran.


There are no age limits and don’t be surprised to find Veterans in their 90’s competing. One year there was a 96 year old competitor! The Veterans are matched according to age and skill level. I was recently informed by one Veteran, who I have known for years (I will call him Rick), that this event is his favorite. He informed me of how exciting it is to meet and compete with other visually impaired veterans from all over the United States. Also, he has reconnected with old military friends.   


To begin training:
After weekly training, apply for one week of high competition

If you have any thoughts or ideas on resources for other Veterans, please e-mail me at

Federal Employee of the Year
The employees of the Rehabilitation Blind Center (BRC) continue to be among the best.
Several employees will be recognized for their efforts as they have been nominated for Federal Employee of the Year.
Denise VanKoevering, Kevin Kistner, Chrissy Delbridge, Susan Knauff, and Kristin Reinhart of the Visual Skills department were all nominated for a team award for their development of new lesson plans and implementation of new technology.
Jerry Schutter, Maggie Elgersma, Laura Gaynor, Geo Athappilly, Debbie Dean, Jamie Ogarek, and Tony Cleveland were also nominated for team recognition for their outstanding participation in the hospital Civility, Respect and Engagement in the Workplace (CREW) program.

Mary Beth Harrison and Jennifer Molodecki were also nominated as part of a team for their efforts on the Hospital Promotion Advisory Team.

The Blind Center’s recreation therapist, Melissa Winter, was nominated for a Federal Employee of the Year individual award.

Congratulations to all the nominees for all of your hard work and for continuing to make the staff of the BRC the best there is!

Referrals: Endorse the Blind Center
The Visual Impairment Services Team Coordinators (VIST) is available in your local region for answering questions regarding the Central Blind Rehabilitation Center at Hines.

Listed below are the Central area Region VIST Coordinators:







Bonnie Whitson

Des Moines


(515) 699-5410

Melinda Dunlap



(312) 569-7531

Jeff Stroud



(217) 554-5406

Pat Zeinstra



(708) 202-2351

Betty Howerton



(618) 997-5311 X54815

Eric Strong

North Chicago


(224) 610-5429

Novalea Welch

Ft. Wayne


(260) 426-5431 X72650

Deanna Austin



(317) 988-2576

Gus McClelland



785-350-3111 X52762

Bob Hamilton



(316) 651-3682

Gerald Rickert

Ann Arbor


(734) 845-3064

Bill Bernhard

Battle Creek



Marianne Ryan



(216) 791-3800 X4240

Jennifer Troyer



(313) 576-4888

Patricia Staller

Iron Mountain


(906)774-3300 X34515

Jean Butler



(402) 995-3188

Leland Lewis



(989) 497-2500 X11852

Broderick Burks



(612) 725-2000 X1814

Heidi Ampe

St. Cloud


(320) 255-6480 X7235

Lauren Swift



(573) 814-6458

Paul Clary-Archuleta

Kansas City


(816) 861-4700 X56924

Kevin Jacques

St. Louis


(314) 652-4100 X54121

Jody Schommer



(701) 232-3241 X3056

Jean Butler



(402) 995-3188

Paul Hemmes



(513) 475-6397

Matthew Page



(614) 257-5325

Paul Hemmes



(937) 268-6511 X2631

Beth Levine



(330) 740-9200 X1580

Galen Britain

Black Hills


(605) 745-2000 X92558

Anna Perry

Sioux Falls


(605) 336-3230 X7860

Anita Surran



(740) 773-1141 X6251

Leon Haith



(414) 384-2000 X41832

Sue Greeno



608-372-3971 X61554

Verilənlər bazası müəlliflik hüququ ilə müdafiə olunur © 2016
rəhbərliyinə müraciət