Otis Scott, a decorated World War II veteran and native of Ohio, was just 23 years old when he contracted glaucoma and nearly lost his sight in 1945.
Scott could have felt anger and self-pity. Instead, like a remarkable number of this nation’s veterans, he took personal responsibility for his future.
"As they released me from the hospital after several unsuccessful and physically exhausting operations, I was abruptly handed a 30-inch cane, almost half the size of today’s standards, and was told nothing else could be done for me," he said.
Instead of feeling sorry for himself, Scott resolved to take control of his life, remain positive and stay true to the goals he had set for himself in his youth. "I knew I could make it if someone out there could just teach and train me," he said.
He soon discovered the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) and was among the first 500 members to join the organization.
BVA traces its roots back to a group of veterans who lost their sight in combat during World War II. The group met for the first time in an Army convalescent hospital in Avon, Connecticut in 1945. The organization has been helping blinded veterans ever since, representing their interests before the legislative and executive branches of government.
BVA also offers a full-time field service program that provides advice to veterans and links them with VA benefits to which they are entitled. Field reps often assist veterans with their medical claims. Perhaps, most importantly, BVA offers emotional support, friendship and the kind of social and recreational activities that foster rehabilitation.
Through BVA, Scott learned about the Hines Blind Rehabilitation Center just outside of Chicago, a discovery that would change his life. He promptly decided to enroll in a rehab program at Hines, then attend college in Cleveland. One of the end results was a 21-year career in physical therapy in Marion, Ohio and an active lifestyle spent in the pursuit of learning.
Scott, now 81, has held various national leadership positions during his 55 years of involvement in BVA.
BVA stands ready to provide direction and individual assistance. The association’s services are free and available to any blinded veteran. For more information, visit www.bva.org or call (800) 669-7079.
This story was provided by the North American Precis Syndicate.