What is it about?

The first blind rehabilitation center for veterans and adults in the United States was created during World War 1 on an estate near Baltimore, Maryland that was known as Evergreen. We describe the events leading up to the founding of the center by the United States Army and the rehabilitation program that evolved to me the vocational rehabilitation needs of blind veterans. We also discuss the unique aspects of this program and its place in the history of blind rehabilitation services.

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Why is it important?

The history of any field is inherently important. Evergreen was unique in that it provided vocational rehabilitation to blind adults and pioneered many developments that are now common place including scientific studies of vocational rehabilitation, family training programs, and others. Understanding the forces that shaped this program and its development offer insights that help us understand the professions involved in blind rehabilitation and may offer insights relevant to the evolving needs of this field.


The authors perspective has been shaped by our experiences; one as a blinded veteran who has been active in advocating for blinded veterans and the other as a vision researcher with over 40 years experience working in the Department of Veterans Affairs Blind Rehabilitation Service. One factor that interested us in Evergreen was the 100th anniversary of the end of World War 1. The second factor was the emergence of brain injury due to blast and other combat events as a leading cause of vision loss in warfighters. While this appeared to be a novel cause of blindness we wondered about blast events causing vision loss in prior wars and focused on WW1 as it provides an early, fairly well documented example.

Dr, Gregory Goodrich
American Foundation for the Blind

The start of World War I blind rehabilitation in American Expeditionary Forces in 1917 was influenced by St. Dunstan's London UK charity for the UK war blinded which was founded March 1915. The Evergreen Rehabilitation Center was first designated site and today some of the same training skills are used at VA blind centers.

Thomas A Zampieri Zampieri
University Saint Thomas Houston Texas

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Evergreen: The First U.S. Veterans’ Blind Rehabilitation Center, Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, April 2019, SAGE Publications, DOI: 10.1177/0145482x19845706.
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