Through your support efforts, we are enthusiastic to announce the following honorary guests to attend this year's Major Rob Soltes Memorial Golf Event on October 10th, 2016. The event is coming fast, make sure to sign up before we sell out!
The Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) is an organization of blinded veterans helping blinded veterans. Through our service programs, regional groups, resources, and advocacy before the legislative and executive branches of government, we hope to make life better for blinded veterans. We also hope to be there with encouragement and support. There is no charge for any BVA service and membership is not a prerequisite to obtain help. All legally blinded veterans are also eligible for BVA’s assistance whether they become blind during or after active duty military service.
Rob's charitable donations are going to the Blinded Veterans Association. We raise money to aid various programs such as Operation Peer Support(OPS) and other programs that will help discover, develop, and promote research opportunities for vision restoration for all who have experienced vision loss due to trauma.
KEY NOTE SPEAKER
Master Sgt Eric Marts (Ret.) was born and raised in Minnesota. He joined the U.S. Army Infantry in 1985, served in Desert Storm in 1991 (Gulf War I) and later left the military in 1998. He then worked in the private security industry spanning many aspects and duties. Eric rejoined the Army in 2004 and deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom in Oct. 2005 thru July 2007. Returning from Iraq with TBI injuries, Eric was assigned to a Warrior Transition Unit for medical care.
Master Sgt. Marts sustained ten repeated close proximity blast exposures from IED blasts, mortar attacks, rocket propelled grenades (RPG), and vehicle borne explosions. Eric underwent orthopedic surgeries, and has attended the Hines VA blind rehabilitation center, TBI clinics until his discharge from the service in September 2010.
Eric is involved in many veteran organizations and is now advocate for visually impaired TBI wounded warriors, visiting with members of congress. He is the creator and host on Fargo, North Dakota, WDAY 970 AM radio show "Heroes of Heartland" each Saturday.
Eric lives in Moorhead, Minnesota with his wife Bobbie. They are the parents of five children, and proud grandparents of five grandchildren.
1st Lieutenant Brian “Ski” Donarski (Ret.) was nearly killed in 2006 while serving in Iraq. A member of Special Forces, 1st Lt. Brian Donarski, 35D, 44 years old, is a former Marine injured in Gulf War I by a blast and discharged in 1998 with a Purple Heart. Trying to join the Army after 9/11, he had to obtain four waivers to become an Army officer in 2004.
Donarski believes the rehabilitative benefits of golf can improve the mental and physical condition of wounded warriors returning from combat. Donarski has three times qualified to play in President George W. Bush’s Warrior Open. He also finished in the No. 1 spot in a tournament held in Washington, D.C. Ski is participating second time in the Major Charles Rob Soltes Jr. O.D. Memorial Golf event for the second year to be with his OIF-OEF peers with vision loss and their families and friends.
Daniel L. Wallace, 1SG (RET) is a twenty-year veteran of the U.S. Army. On December 9, 2003 he was wounded by a car bomb attack in Tel-Al-Far, Iraq. After multiple surgeries which included reattachment of both retinas, cornea replacement in the right eye and numerous stiches to his face and neck, Dan was left blind in his right eye and with limited vision in his left. In the last two years, the limited vision in his left eye has begun to decline.
Dan’s shares his thoughts:
"After retiring (from the Army), I felt distant and unwilling to participate in any service organization. In May of 2013 I finally decided to attend the Hines Veterans Administration Blind Rehabilitation Center. It was at Hines that I was introduced to the Blind Veterans Association (BVA). My first I thought was that, since I was partially blind, it was my duty to join - which I did. I was contacted about a month later by the BVA and asked if I would like to attend the annual convention in Spokane, Washington as a member of the Operation Peer Support Program. My answer was, ‘yes’ and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I have made in a long time. Upon meeting my fellow BVA veterans, I felt a sense of pride, camaraderie, and belonging that I had not had in a long time.
In May of 2014, I had the privilege to be selected as the Sergeant of Arms for the Blinded Veterans Association. Later that year, I was asked to be the Committee Chairman for the newly established Operation Peer Support Committee. I do not have the words to express how grateful I am for the BVA and the Operation Peer Support Program. Today, I feel it is my turn to try to help other veterans and let them feel that they belong as well."
Dr. Thomas Zampieri served on active duty as a Medic in the United States Army from 1972 to 1975. Upon completing Physician Assistant training, he was an Army National Guard Physician Assistant from September 1978 to August 2000, retiring as a Major.
Tom was employed as the Director of Government Relations for the Blinded Veterans Association from April 21, 2005 until November 23, 2013. He presented testimony before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs 21 times during his tenure. Tom made his fifth trip to the United Kingdom as the Coordinator of Project Gemini this year. He lives in Pearland, Texas. Tom serves on the BVA Board of Directors and is the Board Liaison for the BVA Operation Peer Support Committee.