AOA volunteers serve the veterans who serve America
(Shown from left to right: Jim Luckett, O.D., Michael Brumit, O.D., Julie Metzger Aubuchon, O.D., and Derek Wilder, O.D.)
"I really enjoyed being able to serve our veterans."
For the 10th consecutive year, the AOA provided free eye health and vision assessments to hundreds of American veterans.
Volunteer optometrists offered their services at the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) National Convention Health Fair, part of a five-day convention for national, international, regional and local VFW members. This year's convention in Louisville, Ky., drew 10,000 to 12,000 attendees, exhibitors and sponsors.
Local volunteers staffed the AOA booth with support from the Kentucky Optometric Association and the Kentucky Veterans Affairs medical clinic.
"I really enjoyed being able to serve our veterans through the eye screenings at the VFW meeting," said Ashley Rone, O.D., optometry residency coordinator at the Lexington VA Medical Center. "The AOA did a great job of coordinating and giving local optometrists this opportunity."
"Given that the veterans of our country fought to keep our borders safe, I believe Americans owe their respect and allegiance," said Andrew Whitley, O.D., volunteer optometrist. "As a part of the AOA, we gladly sacrifice our time at vision screenings for these veterans. They did what they could to safeguard our lives, shouldn't we do the same in regard to their vision?"
Kelli White, staff liaison to the AOA Health Center Committee, organized the assessments. She said the program demonstrated the importance of routine eye care and provided information on eye diseases that affect aging military personnel.
Hundreds of veterans and their family members stopped by the AOA booth to complete a vision screening, get information on eye health and diseases, or ask questions. Volunteers used the AOA Member Dr. Locator to help identify local optometrists for those without one.
"No matter how they performed during the on-site vision screening, all participants are encouraged to see their local or VA optometrist for a comprehensive annual exam," White said.
The AOA Washington office has a long history with military and federal service optometry. It also contributes to optometry's role as an integral part of the Veterans Affairs and military health care systems.