War Vet Serves at Home

Army veteran featured in upcoming documentary

Steven Baskis is still on active duty as a member of the U.S. Army, but he's not in Iraq with his unit.

Instead, the 23-year-old is in Chicago at the Blind Rehabilitation Center at Hines VA Hospital in Maywood.

Baskis was on his way back to Baghdad on May 13 when a roadside bomb exploded near his armored vehicle. Two other soldiers in his vehicle survived the blast with minor injuries. One died.

Shrapnel from the blast hit the side of Steve’s head and other parts of his body.

"A certain piece went through the side of my face and took my eyes," Baskis recalled.

The blast left him blind.

"When they told me I had major trauma to my eyes and head, the first thing I thought about was I was glad to be alive."

Now a patient at Hines VA Hospital, Baskis has not looked back or dwelled on anything negative. Thanks to blind rehab training he's received at the Blind Center, he's able to get around. He communicates a lot by e-mail and has devices that help him read newspapers. A cell phone that talks and a global positioning system help him commute to any location in the city.

On most days, Baskis can be found teaching a computer class at Hines to the sightless. Before his injury, Baskis' Chicago friends described him as a computer whiz kid who adored his beloved Chicago Cubs.

In fact, his story is the subject of an upcoming documentary, "Going Blind," which is designed to increase public awareness about blindness.

Loss of sight is often reported as the number one fear that most people have.

Worldwide, 37 million people have lost their vision.

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