After graduating college and gaining his doctor of optometry degree through the Reserve Officer Training Corps, David Bradley, OD, served his country as an optometrist in the U.S. Army and then the U.S. Air Force reserves, ending in 1991 with operation Desert Storm. He was at the forefront of delivering eye care for other service members, and as a veteran and VSP network doctor, he continues his commitment to providing access for his peers.
More than 1 million veterans have been diagnosed with low vision, including 160,000 who are legally blind1. Additionally, many veterans have experienced eye injuries, and those from more recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are more likely to have vision loss as a result of traumatic brain injuries2.
To ensure veterans get the eye care they need, Dr. Bradley has been volunteering to provide eye exams at the Yuba Sutter Veterans Stand Down in Marysville, California, for nine years. Several hundred veterans attend the Stand Down each year to access food, shelter, clothing, health screenings and treatments, and benefits and job counseling. When Dr. Bradley learned of the event, medical and dental providers were onsite, but there were no optometry services available. The next year, he brought portable equipment to provide eye exams, and in 2014 he partnered with VSP to bring a mobile clinic so that more veterans could get the exams and glasses they need.
Over three days in August, Dr. Bradley and another VSP network doctor, Kathleen Ngo, OD, provided eye exams for 77 people in need, and distributed 74 gift certificates so veterans could visit a local VSP network doctor for a comprehensive eye exam and eyewear, if prescribed, at no cost.
“Veterans can fall through the cracks for a variety of reasons—they might not know about their benefits, they may not have access through Veterans Affairs, or they might have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or another condition that keeps them from seeking care,” said Dr. Bradley of Bradley Optometry. “It’s imperative that we get them access to eye care so they can maintain a high quality of life. For some, having glasses can mean the ability to apply for a job or for their benefits, which can make all the difference in their ability to thrive.”
Duaine Ericksen served with the Navy from 1988-93 as a medic corpsman onboard the U.S.S. Henry M. Jackson. For him, getting new glasses means being able to drive safely and continue his work as a mechanic. “Veterans are the legs of this country,” he said. “Without them we wouldn’t stand. They’ve served us, and it’s important we get them the care they need.”
For Ruben Jimenez, an Air Force veteran with 20 years of service, glasses mean being able to drive safely to visit family, go grocery shopping, and complete other household tasks. “Everything’s blurry without glasses,” he said. “These help me with my daily life. I couldn’t stay as independent without them.”
Dr. Bradley has been practicing in the Yuba-Sutter community for more than 25 years, and was pleased to help so many local veterans see their world more clearly. VSP looks forward to continuing to partner with him at the Stand Down in Marysville, and we are excited to partner with optometrists across the world to help close the gap in access to eye care and eyewear.