October 28, 2011

White Cane Awareness Walk 2011 a Big Success

Guest Post by: Brian Higgins, WBRC CATs Supervisor

Photo: The WBRC Group walked down University Ave in matching
White Cane Awareness Shirts and handed out flyers to bystanders.
WBRC had a successful 2011 White Cane Awareness Walk!  We would like to thank everyone for their participation including Veterans, WBRC Staff, and Lions Club Members.  Without your help the event for the veterans and the blind center would not have been a success.  While I was walking around downtown Palo Alto an expression came to me “It takes a community to support a veteran”. 

Photo: Some of the WBRC Group crossing University Ave
on the green light.  Staff and Loins Club volunteers ensured
everyone's safety and Palo Alto provided a police escort
to cite drivers if they did not yield to the white cane users.
The WBRC staff participating in the walk helped to guide veterans along the route, and some staff walked the route with blindfolds on while using long white canes.  The Lions Club provided us with volunteers to ensure our safety as the WBRC group crossed at busy intersections in downtown Palo Alto.  The city of Palo Alto also supported us in our effort.   Palo Alto provided us with a police officer to escort the group along our route.  He was watching the traffic and public along the whole route at every stop light, ready to write tickets to any drivers that violated the White Cane Law and failed to yield to white cane and guide dog users. 

Photo: Yurika Vu (left) and Susan Marshall,
both WBRC CATs Instructors, during the walk.
Susan walked the entire route under blindfold
using a long white cane.
The Mayor of Palo Alto greeted us at the end of our walk in front of City Hall and gave a speech to the group about advocacy and his support towards educating the public about the white cane law.  He read the white cane day proclamation and then posed with the group for pictures.  After a comment from one of WBRC staff last year the Mayor of Palo Alto has added Braille to his business card and has received a lot of positive feedback for adding Braille to his card.  All in all it was a very positive experience and I think we did well educating the community about the white cane law.  Thanks again to everyone who contributed to the White Cane Awareness Walk, your efforts really do make a difference. 

October 12, 2011

VA Website Posts Press Release Regarding New Polytrauma & Blind Rehabilitation Center

Rendering of the planned Polytrauma and Blind
Rehabilitation Center at Palo Alto, CA
VA to Build Polytrauma-Blind Rehabilitation Center in Palo Alto
$98.8 Million Contract Awarded

October 11, 2011

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs has awarded a $98.8 million contract to build a new rehabilitation facility located on the campus of the VA Palo Alto Health Care System.

“This new Polytrauma-Blind Rehabilitation Center will allow VA to better serve our Veterans and active duty Servicemembers in a state-of-the-art facility, which will support the exceptional clinical care currently delivered through both programs,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. 

In 2005, the VA Palo Alto Health Care System was designated a Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center. Since then, the program has been housed in an existing facility originally constructed in 1960. The Western Blind Rehabilitation Center, which began in 1967, has been housed in a building constructed in 1977.

The $98.8 million contract was awarded to Walsh/DeMaria Joint Venture V of Chicago, Ill., on Sept. 30. Construction is scheduled to be completed in spring 2014. The three-story facility will be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver equivalency.  

This will be VA’s first and only Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center to be combined with a Blind Rehabilitation Center. At 174,000 square feet, this new facility is the largest consolidated rehabilitation center in VA. The Rehabilitation Center includes 24 beds for the polytrauma program, 32 beds for the blind rehabilitation program, and 12 beds for the polytrauma transitional rehabilitation program.  

The center will also have an outpatient physical therapy/occupational therapy clinic, an outpatient physical medicine and rehabilitation clinic, and clinical programs for Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom Veterans.

CLICK HERE to read the original PRESS RELEASE


October 1, 2011

October VIST Group Meetings Scheduled for Palo Alto and Stockton

Image: VIST Logo
The Visual Impairment Services Team (VIST) group is open to all veterans, Active-Duty Service Members, family members and those interested in promoting the community of B/VI veterans in the region are welcome. We have varying presentations and discussions of new technology, special training and many subjects relevant to B/VI persons.

The next Palo Alto VIST group meeting will be held on Thursday October 20th from 1 pm to 2 pm at the address below:
VAPAHCS Palo Alto Hospital
Building 48 (WBRC) Room A208
3801 Miranda Ave
Palo Alto, CA 93401

The next Stockton VIST group meeting will be held on Thursday October 27th from 10:30 am to 11:30 am at the address below:
Stockton Community Center for the Blind
Conference Room
130 W Flora St
Stockton, CA 95202
(209) 466-3836