Former Cadet Jasmin Bailey was was weeks away from getting health coverage and a start in the U.S. Army. A health condition cost her coverage and her position with the Army.
“Having it in my mind that I was going to commission, I was ecstatic,” said Bailey.
That commissioning never happened because Bailey started losing vision the summer before graduation.
“You never get used to it. It's always there, and it's declining, so then I notice it more. Like every single day, I notice that my eyesight's changing and getting worse.”
Bailey headed to an Army training camp where her eyesight did get worse. She saw flashes of light and lost her color vision. Bailey came back to Mary Baldwin College after her camp, but saw things hazy and out of focus. That meant she had to refocus her studies to graduate last spring.
Bailey said the Army discharged her because of her eyesight two weeks before commissioning. That left her without health insurance or a plan for after college.
“I just felt like a lot more could have been done. I guess because I didn't know exactly what to do, I was just brushed aside.”
Her mentor, Sharon Spalding worked with Bailey during college and calls her a leader.
“I knew that she was determined, and I knew this was a young woman who was going to do whatever she wanted to do,” said Spalding. “We always hope for miracles. I just hope that Jasmin can get her sight back.”
Cmdt. Mike Bissell worked with Bailey through the school's Cadet Corps.
“When I found out that nobody would touch her, that no one could help her, I was angry, to say the least,” said Bissell.
He tried to find help for her and calls Bailey's case a calamity.
“This is important. This is taking care of people. That's my definition of leadership, and we're not doing it.”
Bailey knows she can rely on her friends, even if she cannot rely on the army.
“That's probably the one thing that keeps me sane, is the support of my friends. That's probably one of the only things,” said Bailey.
She graduated in 2011 and is legally blind. Bailey lives in Richmond and her friends run a blog: MyFriendJasmin for her to find support. Bailey said getting used to blindness has taken a toll on her.
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