MOAA Supports Blind Veterans

Left to right: Green Valley Chapter MOAA board members Darren Venters, Peggy McGee, and Jack Bundy presented a variety of gardening implements to Diana Kellermeyer, chief, Southwestern Blind Rehabilitation Center. (Photo by Brenda Stockton)

Peggy McGee

After learning about the many programs the VA Hospital in Tucson offers to help blind veterans adjust, the Green Valley Chapter, Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), decided they wanted to do something to support the program. They learned that the Blind Veterans Rehab program wanted to get a program to teach blind veterans gardening skills off the ground—literally. Recreation therapist Shelley Marsh said that her job is to teach blind and visually impaired veterans the skills needed to continue to participate in leisure activities they enjoyed during their lives until vision loss struck. Veterans she asked chose gardening because that is a hobby that so many find relaxing.

The VA Hospital built a concrete walking path leading up to the garden and provided raised beds with fencing to protect the plants. The dilemma: No tools were provided. It was MOAA to the rescue to support the new project. Two weeks after learning of the need, MOAA delivered trowels, garden trays, hand hoes specially designed for raised beds, dribbles, pruners, seed starting trays, and gardening gloves. Thanks to the long growing season in the Tucson area, the blind veterans now have veggies and flowers growing in what was just an empty space a month ago. They are hoping they can harvest the tomatoes and zucchini before the first frost hits.