Why I Serve

Sue and Kismet in the Birmingham Field Office

At the lowest point in my life I put a loaded gun to my head and pulled the trigger. Apart from blindness and probably PTSD the bullet left me otherwise unharmed. How can I express the struggle of those early days. I thought I had lost everything.

One of the blind rehab professionals who helped me in those early days was an orientation and mobility instructor at the Southeastern Blind Rehab Center, SBRC, part of the Birmingham VAMC.

I’m not a Veteran so our work was done outside his day job. He taught me to use a long cane and helped me regain my independence. He also helped me get signed up as a volunteer at the SBRC.

Partially as the result of receiving services from a VA employee who was very good at his job I entered the field of blind rehab. More to the point, I entered the field of blind rehab as a result of the work I did with Veterans as a volunteer.

Twenty years after I worked there as a volunteer I walked back in the door of the SBRC as a subject matter expert.

In 2007 I left direct service for my current job as a management analyst with the VA Section 508 office.

I serve because I was served. Now I’m giving back. I’m helping VA ensure that Veterans who have disabilities can make full use of the technology VA deploys.

My current project concerns the accessibility of e-learning content in VA. Because of the e-learning content I get to see I’m keenly aware of the issues facing our Veterans: substance abuse, suicide, PTSD, sexual trauma. Although most of the content my team tests is designed to be used by VA personnel some of it is public facing. It’s designed to be used by our Veterans and those who support them. I try to make sure everything we approve for deployment is as good as it can be. I take great pride in knowing our process of testing and Section 508 certification means Veterans will get the information they need with creative, robust, and accessible e-learning products.

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