Vicky Russell Beggs made a special contribution to the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center in Jackson, MS, that was meaningful to her in a very special way. It was for a flag that could be more than just seen, it could be felt and read.

Beggs’ blind father was a World War II Veteran. She wanted to honor both her parents, who often spoke of their love for blinded Veterans.

Gary Schoelerman is regional group secretary for the Blinded Veterans Association of Louisiana/Mississippi. On March 25, he and other members of the organization presented Kai Mentzer with a Bronze Raised Relief Braille Flag (pictured above). Mentzer is the Jackson VAMC acting medical director.

The bronze flag measures 12-inches by 13-inches. It honors the World War II heroes who, on March 28, 1945, banded together to form the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA). BVA represents a cross-section of heroes and pioneers who shaped the rich history, philosophy, and knowledge of education and techniques rehabilitating the blind.

Advocate to ensure specialized services

These same men also provided insight into current and future challenges facing the blind. Its advocacy efforts ensure that services for all blinded persons would be specialized for their unique life circumstances.

The Bronze Flag has raised relief stars and stripes including the stripes for the pledge of allegiance in braille. It gives all Americans the opportunity to see how different organizations continue to support all of America’s Veterans with the most recognized sign of freedom known throughout the world.

The Louisiana/Mississippi Regional Group of the Blinded Veterans Association is partnering with other Veterans Service Organization’s in the area to provide the Bronze Braille American Flags to Jackson VA. They also provide the flags to VA Community Based Outpatient Clinics to display in their lobbies.

March 28 was 76th anniversary of association

There are now three VA medical centers that have the flag on display. The other VA medical centers are in Biloxi and Alexandria.

The Biloxi Blind Rehab Center, Lafayette CBOC, and the Alexandria VA Community Living Center have also been presented with similar braille flags.

March 28 marked the 76th anniversary of the formation of the Blinded Veterans Association. To learn more about BVA, visit www.bva.org.


Susan Varcie is the public affairs officer for the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center.

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