In August 2012, Hadley staff participated in the Blinded Veterans Association National Convention. We had the opportunity to interview a number of blinded vets about their military experience and visual impairments and talk to them about tips and advice they have for other blinded veterans adjusting to vision loss. These are their stories.
"All my experiences with Hadley have been absolutely outstanding. The courses that I've taken have been taught by instructors that are obviously very groomed in their field...Where there's a will, there's a way. Hadley provides the way if you have your will, a means of wanting to continue to live independently."
"Get into the VIST program, and go to blind rehab. I've encountered in my over ten years now, veterans that, they were probably like me. I can still see, and they may see light, so they don't consider themselves blind...You're not useless; you just need to learn to adapt and attack problems in a different way."
"Through sports and physical activity, you can accomplish just about anything anyone else can. I've met guys who have been Ironmen, blind athletes who've done 100- mile bike rides, 10-mile swim and the 26-mile Boston marathon. A Marine Corp man did it in under three hours. Those guys really inspired me."
"When you lose your vision, you feel like you've lost some of your independence...So if this happens, I just recommend that you take the necessary steps to learn how to cope with your blindness and how to maintain as much of your independence as you can...Learning things like the assistive technology that goes with the computers-text-to-speech programs like JAWS and Window-Eyes and ZoomText-that's been a big help to me."
"I took my master's online, and I think that to be able to take courses, to take classes, to interact with others, you know through the computer and what not—whether it's email, whether it's voiceover, text, whatever—keeps you from just being in that little corner, and I thought it was great."
"When I lost my vision, I saw other blind veterans being a couch potato, and I don't have a wife. I never got married. So, I'm strictly very independent when I can be...Be independent in what you do."
"Don't give up. Just keep pushing forward and take the days as they come."
"Life doesn't end when your vision ends. There's a lot that you can do even though you lose your vision. It's a whole new world, and you have to learn how to cope with it."