YUKON — Nearly 70 years after serving as a radio man in the Pacific for the U.S. Navy during World War II, Emory Finefrock is set to deliver another crucial message from one of his fellow veterans, only this time it's going to the top.
Finefrock, of Yukon, is scheduled to relay a phone call Monday from a deaf veteran living in New York to the White House for a conversation with President Barack Obama. The call is part of an effort to promote a new program helping blind and deaf veterans.
Finefrock, 89, was diagnosed 15 years ago with macular degeneration, meaning he was slowly losing his eyesight as he aged. As his eyesight worsened to the point that he was legally blind, Finefrock began looking for ways to remain productive and continue helping others.
“I'm not going to sit back here and do nothing,” Finefrock said. “I had to find something society will let me do in my condition.”
He began taking computer lessons from a trainer at New View Oklahoma, formerly the League for the Blind. Workers there also got him in touch with the Veterans Affairs.
John Laakman, director of the VA's Visual Impairment Systems Team, helped Finefrock get a computer setup with equipment designed for those with severe eyesight problems.
As he became more familiar with the technology, he found a way to use it. The Veterans Workshop, a nonprofit that trains disabled veterans to be self-sufficient and work from home, was starting a new program meant to help both blind and deaf veterans.