Through another Lens: Jeffrey Mittman creates opportunities for visually impaired people

Jeffrey Mittman was blinded in combat in Iraq while in the U.S. Army. Mittman is the President of the National Association for the Employment of People who are Blind. Anthony Scott, Photo Provided.
Jeffrey Mittman was blinded in combat in Iraq while in the U.S. Army. Mittman is the President of the National Association for the Employment of People who are Blind. Anthony Scott, Photo Provided.

Jeffrey Mittman served in the U.S. Army as a master sergeant in the infantry from 1998–2005, which allowed him to travel the world and across military units, such as the 101st Airborne, as well as serve in the Gulf and Afghanistan wars.

In 2005, Mittman, 2011 and 2013 Ball State graduate in executive development and operations, respectively, served on his fourth combat tour in Iraq as a part of a mobile training team, where he experienced heavy combat as the adviser to an Iraqi battalion. Mittman and his team were soon given orders that would quickly change their tour.

“We were ordered to move out and link up with the Iraqis [for] a mission,” Mittman said.

He and his team eventually came across a highway. On the other side, enemy forces were prepared for an all-out attack.

“There was a roadside bomb, small fire [from assault rifles] and mortar fire,” Mittman said. “I was hit and knocked out immediately.”

The detonation of a roadside bomb ultimately left Mittman visually impaired. Although this would bring Mittman’s career to an end, it also acted as a new beginning for him.

“I realized my career [in the military] was over, and I thought to myself, the more education I had, the better,” Mittman said. “Being from Indiana, I was already aware of Ball State.” 

Mittman enrolled at Ball State in 2009 and praised the accommodations he received for classes. 

“I chose to go to Ball State because, quite frankly, the flexibility of the programs and classes — and then the reputation [of Ball State’s] work with veterans and disabled students and how well they help accommodate for special needs,” Mittman said. “I can’t read a regular book, right? The accommodations [at Ball State] for the disabled students are second to none.”

Courtney Jarrett, director of Ball State’s Office of Disability Services, explained Ball State’s services are unique because each situation is handled based on “the student as to what services they receive.” 

Jarrett said Ball State’s disability services are “really personal, and that's on purpose. We want students to come and get accommodations, but also use resources and know they can contact us if they're having any issues or if they have questions.”

From her conversations with Mittman as a student, Jarrett said she “knew that he was going to go on and do awesome things.”

During his time at Ball State, Mittman also hosted presentations on campus about his experiences that detailed his recovery and time in military services after his injury.

By 2011, Mittman had earned his Master’s of Arts in executive development and Master’s of Business Administration in operations. In 2019, Mittman assumed his position as president and CEO of Bosma Enterprises.

“Bosma Enterprises is a social enterprise and a not-for-profit here in Indianapolis,” Mittman said. “Today, we are the largest employer of people who are blind or visually impaired in the state of Indiana.” 

A 2017 study from Cornell University states the working-class age of blind people in the United States is 70 percent. 

“So, our whole goal, our whole focus, is providing opportunities for [blind people] through either employment with Bosma Enterprises or through our training with a rehab facility,” Mittman said.

According to Bosma Enterprises’ website, its rehab facility “provides guidance and hands-on, customized training in everything from daily living skills to state-of-the-art assistive technology.”

Bosma Enterprises offers training on how to cook and clean with disabilities, as well as how best to use cell phones, computers and other technology. Bosma Enterprises also partners with businesses to provide resource management and training programs for visually impaired and blind employees, including offering medical products and examinations for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

In January 2022, Mittman was elected president of the National Association for the Employment of People who are Blind (NAEPB). In a Feb. 3, 2022 press release, Mittman said “it’s an honor to take on this role.” 

“It’s an exciting time to become the president [of the NAEPB], with all the opportunities and changes in the business environment,” Mittman said. “There’s a lot of excitement around actually making a difference and providing opportunities for people to work. True economic independence comes through being able to support yourself and your family.” 

Mittman said he is optimistic about increasing opportunities for people who are visually impaired, and one of his main goals as NAEPB president will be to secure the future of Ability One, a federal employment program for people who are visually impaired or blind, by ensuring continued government funding.

Mittman said he will be going to Washington, D.C., to work with federal government officials and meet with other disability organizations to “get everybody moving in the same direction so that we can actually accomplish something as a community and not just as an individual organization.”

Mittman said “giving somebody with a disability a chance to not only improve your culture, but improve your organization with a different perspective,” is an important aspect of company management.

“A diverse group includes those [veterans, disabled veterans and visually impaired people] with different approaches to challenges and different experiences,” Mittman said.

Contact Richard Kann with comments at or on Twitter @RichardKann.


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