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New audio player offers book collection to blinded veterans

New audio player offers book collection to blinded veterans

MegaVoice is a solar-powered device that holds 100 hours of inSight4Vets digital audio materials. [photos courtesy CRSB]

Adventist ministry creates solar-powered device to provide encouragement

September 20, 2013 | Silver Spring, Maryland, United States | Rajmund Dabrowski and Doris Burdick/ANN staff

Christian Record Services for the Blind this week launched a new project to support veterans blinded in the line of military duty.  

InSight4Vets is a pocketsize solar-powered audio player pre-loaded with books that CRSB officials hope will help guide blinded veterans through a difficult adjustment period.

“The audio player is filled with stories about overcoming during the worst possible circumstances, stories of survival, stories of hope and stories of transformation,” said Larry Pitcher, CRSB president.

“It’s our privilege to share this gift with those coming home from military service without sight,” he said.

CRSB officials say the project was inspired by news reports identifying eye trauma as the second most common injury among active military members. There are currently close to 160,000 blind veterans and 1 million partially sighted vets in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“Unfortunately, an unseen wound of war—the inner anguish of sight loss—often becomes greater than the physical injury itself,” Pitcher said. “It’s to address these emotional, social and spiritual injuries that InSight4Vets was developed.”

George Haley, a blind veteran from the U.S. state of Michigan and a project consultant, said he was surprised that the audio player contained seven complete books, including “Take the Risk” by renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson and “The Blessing of Adversity” by U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry Black.

“In a small package I can carry with me a great amount of material that’s encouraging, entertaining, educational and inspiring,” Haley said. The audio player is smaller than an iPhone and contains about one hundred hours of listening. The device can be charged by solar power or another light source, through USB cable or through the accompanying plug-in charger.

“As grateful as we are, and as much as we would like to, we cannot restore sight to veterans who have lost it. But we can give them insight and hope … through this ‘library in your pocket’ player,” said Dick Stenbakken, retired U.S. Army chaplain, whose book, “The Centurion,” is also included in the player.

Gary Councell, director of Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries and also a retired U.S. Army chaplain, said InSight4Vets goes a long way toward supporting an often-overlooked segment of population.

“By providing such an important service, Christian Record is contributing to mending a hole in the social safety net by reaching out to a small—yet so very important—group of people,” Councell said.

Initial start-up support for the InSight4Vets project came from individual donors and a Versacare grant. The Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries at Seventh-day Adventist world church headquarters is a project co-sponsor.

Established by the Adventist Church in 1899, Christian Record Services for the Blind offers a library of Braille, large print publications and audio recordings to a potential audience of 39 million blind and low sight people in the U.S. The ministry also operates a system of summer camps for blind children across North America.

Visit insight4vets.org to learn more.

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