Blind Veteran in Edmond, Oklahoma Successfully Continues Training with Veterans Workshop Print
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Hilary Snyder   
Wednesday, 10 April 2013 08:45

An unlikely group of blind veterans from the State of Oklahoma has come together to learn how to assist their fellow veterans.  Class A-225 began training last month to use Google+ technology to learn how to become relay operators making phone calls for deaf veterans.  One veteran, Chuck Smith of Edmond OK, shares his story.

Edmond, OK (PRWEB) April 10, 2013

When class A-225 began training Chuck Smith was unsure where his path would take him but he was full of optimism.  Like many of the veterans in the class, Mr. Smith has more than a few war stories under his belt and has lived a colorful and fulfilling life.

Chuck was born in Rochester, NY and raised in the “great state of Nebraska” as a farm boy in a small town called Stamford.  When he was a young man, Chuck thought to himself “I can stay here milking cows or I can join the Marine Corps”.  And join the United States Marine Corps he did.  Mr. Smith went on to serve 8 years in the Marines, served in Vietnam in ’67 and ’68 and was awarded the Purple Heart and other medals for his actions.  After leaving the Marines, Chuck returned to Oklahoma where he met the love of his life Nadine and has lived for 30 years in the town of Edmond.   Chuck and Nadine have been married for 19 years, have sons in Salt Lake City, UT and Georgetown, KY; and have a granddaughter that goes to Oklahoma University.

Chuck’s path to training with the Veterans Workshop to be a relay operator for deaf veterans took him from helping others as an insurance adjuster/home improvement salesman to Class A-255 where he is a squad leader today.  His current adventure happened when a gentleman named John Laakman, a VIST coordinator (Visual Impairment Services Team), from the Department of Veterans Affairs in Oklahoma called him about a new program consisting of blind veterans training on Google technology to work from home training to be relay operators.  As Chuck puts it, “Being low-visioned I felt captured in my house as I cannot drive and had been looking for some time for a way to reach out and help my fellow veterans.  This relay operator program has opened a door for me that I thought had been permanently closed.  I have always enjoyed helping people and now not only am I learning how to do that from home, but I see infinite possibilities in where this can lead for both myself and the veterans we can assist with this program.  This has been a life changing experience for me.  I have become part of an amazing team and am excited to be a part of this awesome program.”

Upon graduation from the program Mr. Smith is looking forward to working either as a relay operator from home making calls for deaf veterans or fine tuning his skills to be an instructor for the Veterans Workshop and leading future classes of veterans.

The class that Chuck is in, A-225, adapted a quote from Emerson and Mr. Smith completely sees the resemblance to his life now and where it will go - “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

About the Veterans Workshop: With offices in Rhode Island and Washington, DC, the Veterans Workshop has developed unique training programs for a subset of the disabled veterans community to include blind, deaf and paralyzed veterans. Training for blind veterans is underway, with training for deaf and paralyzed veterans expected in early fall.