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Visually-Impaired Veteran Helps Peers Transition to Civilian and School Life

“Technology training, leadership empowerment, and accessible books make all the difference,” says Tim Hornik

Photo of Tim Hornik

The word “awesome” doesn’t begin to describe the work of Tim Hornik, a retired U.S. Army Captain and chair of TAVVI , the Technology Association for Veterans with Visual Impairments, the technology committee in the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA).

Tim is visually impaired and a long-time Bookshare member. We originally featured his work in 2014, and it’s no surprise that today he remains diligent to help returning veterans make successful transitions to civilian and school life.

In our first blog, Tim was a busy new father. He had just started a Ph.D. program in Therapeutic Sciences at the University of Kansas Medical Center and was exploring educational programming to support disabled veterans in school. Tim’s goal was to develop personalized transition services for hundreds of veterans on his campus. Today, he leads two committees to train and reempower veterans.

The first committee is focused on technology. Tim trains students on the use of smart phones and digital devices, like the iPad. “Technology training and devices, leadership empowerment, and accessible books can make all the difference for returning veterans and is crucial for individuals who are visually impaired,” he says. Tim also develops reference materials and hosts a monthly leadership teleconference for the BVA, relying on Bookshare and peer review journals as source materials.

In the second committee, Operation Peer Support, Tim works with current generation veterans. He recommends Bookshare’s online library as an accessible resource for schoolwork. Membership to Bookshare is free for veterans with qualified print disabilities who attend U.S. schools. Tim likes the varied collection of educational books, technical and professional journals, and periodicals.

In addition to these committees, Tim is developing a training module for student veterans with disabilities for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This module will help veterans and the VA better understand disablement, how to obtain accommodations and services from universities, and other barriers impinging veterans’ abilities to pursue postsecondary educational objectives.

We asked Tim, “What are you currently reading from the Bookshare library?” One of his classes required three qualitative research textbooks that the university disability office would need to scan. Tim requested the journals from Bookshare and our staff quickly got busy scanning, editing, and adding the titles to the collection. “Bookshare saved me and the university accommodations office time,” he said. “Now the journals are available in the library for other vets and students who are visually impaired to download for free.”

Photo of Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Honorable Robert McDonald, Timothy Hornik, and his guide dog Black Jack
Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Honorable Robert McDonald, with Timothy Hornik and his guide dog Black Jack.

Tim also shared this photo of him with Robert A. McDonald, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, who visited the University of Kansas Medical Center as part of his efforts to promote VA careers and research possibilities. Tim appreciated the opportunity to receive Secretary McDonald’s positive perspective on Senate Bill 2134, Grow Our Own Directive: Physician Assistant Employment and Education Act of 2015, legislation that helps former medics and corpsmen in the U.S. military transition from the service into VA physician assistants.

The team at Bookshare continues to wish Tim the very best of everything and give special thanks to him and all veterans for their extraordinary service to our country.

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