White Cane Means YIELD (continued)
By Thom Wilborn
“We support the VA’s comprehensive in-patient Blind Rehabilitation Centers across the nation,” said Jesinoski. “We really appreciate the visual impairment services team coordinators and the blind rehabilitation outpatient specialists who train our veterans to use white canes.
“Sadly, VA Palo Alto Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center studies have determined that 75 percent of veterans diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, a frequent injury of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, also suffer from vision problems,” Jesinoski said. “More than half were unable to interpret print, and 4 percent were legally blind. Nearly 2,100 veterans of these wars enrolled in the VA are blind or have low vision.”
Leal said it is best for the public to know that there are a lot of blind people walking the streets. “They have to be aware that we have a handicap and they should acknowledge that we need the room.”
“If somebody sees that white cane, they want to help you,” Leal said. “I don’t think there’s enough education out there to tell people to yield to the blind.
“Blind veterans rarely ask for assistance. “We depend on our hearing, and we know the difference between the sidewalk and grass. We can feel the cracks in street pavement. But if someone offers help, I welcome it.”
“I want the public to be more aware of the reason for the white cane and to respect it and the person using it, because they are the same person as before. They just don’t see,” said Feigelis. “They are still that wonderful person you knew before, and they do not want to be a burden to anyone.
“You can’t take the pride away from veterans,” she said. “You must give them their dignity.”
“When you see a blind person, introduce yourself and ask if assistance is needed, especially when a person looks lost or in need of assistance, such as walking slow, looking around, or looking bewildered,” said Kennedy.
“There are a lot of mobility problems with blindness,” said Kaminsky. “It is a different, dark world. Many of our sister DAV Chapters make financial donations to the National Blind Chapter to assist our blind veterans attend the VA rehabilitation centers.
“We use the funds at mobility centers, get veterans out to shop, eat and attend events during the weekends they are there,” he said. “That’s what our Chapters do for us. DAV Chapters are exemplary in taking on the hard work for our blind members who can’t do fundraising on their own.”
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