The Transylvania Times -

Parker Picked As Veterans Group's President

 

August 31, 2017

Courtesy Photo

Joe Parker

Pisgah Forest resident Joe J. Parker has been selected by the 8,000-member Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) to serve as the organization's 41st national president.

The Transylvania County native and U.S. Navy veteran was elected by delegates representing more than 40 of the organization's regional groups nationwide. He will serve two consecutive one-year terms if re-elected next year.

The voting took place at the closing business session of BVA's 72nd National Convention in Jacksonville, Fla. He was sworn in at the gathering's final event, the annual Awards Banquet, later that evening.

Parker became legally blind in 1998 as a result of an acute exposure to Agent Orange as a chief construction electrician in the northern regions of South Vietnam decades earlier.

The exposure affected his pancreas and developed into diabetes and diabetic retinopathy.

He served two combat tours in Vietnam during the 1960s.

Retiring from the Navy in 1989 as a chief petty officer after 30 years of service, Parker also worked as a civil servant for 12 years for the Department of Labor. He retired from DOL as a GS-12.

"My fear is that other veterans will suffer the catastrophic total loss of their sight as I have," he said. "I have dedicated myself to other veterans and to blinded veterans in particular in the hope that my blindness will not be in vain-that I can prevent others from suffering the pitfalls that I have suffered and help them retain or regain their independence."

Parker's family first settled in Transylvania County in the late 1700s along the headwaters of the French Broad River. He attended school first in Brevard and then in Rosman. He enlisted in the Navy in 1959.

Prior to his election as a BVA district director, Parker served the organization locally as treasurer of the North Carolina Regional Group. He also founded the Western Chapter of the group and established a volunteer office for BVA at the Asheville VA Medical Center.

He is also an active, contributing member of The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and the Fleet Reserve Association, having participated in the planning of parades, the production of patriotic ceremonies, and performance of Honor Guard details at funerals of Transylvania County veterans.

All BVA members share a common bond as legally blind veterans. They resolve to help one another understand and receive the rightful benefits they earned through their service.

The association also represents the interests of its members before the legislative and executive branches of government and encourages all blinded veterans to participate in VA blind rehabilitation programs.

BVA was established in March of 1945 when a small but close-knit group of World War II blinded veterans gathered together in Avon, Conn.

The founders hoped to help newly blinded veterans adjust to life without sight and regain confidence and independence.

For more information, visit http://www.bva.org.

 
 

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