BALTIMORE (WMAR) — A Maryland Air Force veteran is using his vision loss as motivation to help others with self-defense and safety.

“Many people who are visually impaired feel vulnerable when they are out walking, especially when they are using a white cane,” said Harvey Guary. “My goal is teach them skills that would help them feel more confident.”

Guary started to lose his vision in 2014 due to glaucoma, but he didn’t let it slow him down. He learned to lead an independent life with the help of low vision services from the VA.

“Our goal is to get the veteran as independent as possible in their community and their living environment,” said Chana Hurvitz, Visual Impairment Services Team coordinator with the VA Maryland Health Care System.

Now legally blind, he is training to be an instructor with STRIVE4You, an organization that partners with VA Medical Centers to teach fellow Veterans with vision impairment safety and self-defense.

“It’s planning ahead. It’s being safe out there on the streets. It’s balance. It’s facial recognition and it’s the self-defense,” said Guary.

He’s training to be an instructor and bring the program to Baltimore and is excited to be helping other veterans with limited or no vision feel more confident in the community.

Marine Corps veteran Terry Stokes, who is also legally blind due to glaucoma, is looking forward to learning more.

“Especially the way things are going in the world today, we would definitely need to know a little bit about a least enough self-defense to give ourselves a chance to get out of harm’s way,” said Stokes.

He met Guary through the VA’s visual impairment services team. They offer a host of different specialists to help vets with eye care, therapy and adaptive sports.

“There’s help and there’s resources possible so they don’t have to sit at home and suffer and feel helpless,” said Guary.

“We really want to encourage them to get engaged in the community, engage in recreational and leisure pursuits and a lot of them are very hesitant to go out by themselves because they feel more vulnerable with the white cane,” said Hurwitz.

Across Maryland, Hurwitz is working with nearly 400 visually impaired veterans. They’ve gone bowling, golfing and learned to cook.

“We do a lot of interactive sports just to stay normal, to stay regular and show the people in our support groups that life doesn’t end because lose our vision. It’s just a matter of the rehab,” said Stokes.

The Baltimore VA is hosting a 6 hour self-defense workshop next Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For VIST services, veterans who are enrolled in VA healthcare and have had an updated eye exam within the past year can call Hurwitz at 410-605-7000 x55124.