The Martinsburg VA Medical Center is launching new Visual Impairment Services Team (VIST) opportunities for Veterans. The virtual program is in keeping with the changing times due to COVID-19.

The VIST VA Video Connect (VVC) clinic began in March using existing VVC technology. It continues to steadily gain popularity with its participants. Classes so far not only include a monthly group meeting, but also the ability to attend national VA special offerings. Those offerings include sports/fitness, cooking, memoir writing and diabetes management.

Exchange information with peers

Pictured above, a VIST Veteran participates in a VVC appointment at the Martinsburg VA.

Participating Veterans find the virtual platform to be a great opportunity to share their VIST experience with others, as well as to exchange information and simply find support among their peers.

The VIST program aims to assist eligible Veterans with a visual impairment in developing the skills needed for personal independence and successful integration into the community and family environment.

Technology is such a great support

The VIST Coordinator, Melissa Dunkle, is a blind rehabilitation specialist. She’s also a certified low vision therapist. Dunkle encourages her VIST Veterans to not be frightened by technology, as it is such a great support.

A Veteran herself, Dunkle refers to VIST care for Veterans as “lifetime care coordination,’’ especially during a time when it can be difficult to stay connected.

These new virtual options give VIST Veterans the opportunity to stay in touch with others.

Feedback from Veterans has been overwhelmingly positive and additional participation could increase the occurrence of these VIST VVC clinics.

Interested in learning more? Visit

Chiray Weatherholtz is a public affairs specialist for the Martinsville VAMC.

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Published on Jun. 9, 2021

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