Spouses, dependent children, and grandchildren of blinded veterans are eligible for the annual Kathern F. Gruber Scholarship and Thomas H. Miller Awards to assist them with their higher education tuition. The scholarships are awarded on the basis of merit through an application process that is evaluated by a committee. Gruber and Miller scholarships are for one year only but recipients can re-apply and receive the award up to four times. The blinded veteran family member is not required to be a BVA member for the spouse or child to receive a scholarship. Qualifications for both programs are the same except for an added emphasis on music and fine arts for the Miller award.
Kathern "Kay" Gruber was one of BVA's early pioneers as an advisor to the organization and became acquainted with the organization while serving in the mid-1940s as the American Foundation for the Blind's Director of Services for the War Blind. Kay attended all of the BVA conventions for several decades, sitting through all of the Board of Directors meetings and offering counsel and advice. She also served on a key advisory group in 1948 that made recommendations to VA regarding the care and rehabilitation of the war blinded. She further assisted in the establishment of the first comprehensive Blind Rehabilitation Center at the VA Medical Center in Hines, Illinois. The BVA scholarship program was named after Kathern Gruber at the BVA 40th National Convention (1985) in San Diego, California.
For portions of four decades, Thomas H. Miller has served as an advocate for blinded veterans and their families, first as a member of the BVA Board of Directors and later as a full-time staff member of the organization. From 1979 to 1984, he occupied the elected positions of National Secretary, Vice President, and President. Shortly thereafter, he was hired as a full-time employee in 1986, assuming the post of Director of Government Relations until his appointment as Executive Director in 1994. Tom has amassed a lengthy list of contributions, accomplishments, and professional relationships that have enhanced BVA's image and prominence for years to come. His service to America's blinded veterans, and their families, is unprecedented and matched by few others. Tom was severely wounded, losing his sight in both eyes, in a landmine explosion in December 1967 while supervising the securing of an enemy minefield in Vietnam.