Call to Order

Reprinted from PN November 2006

As PVA celebrates its 60th anniversary of advocating the rights of veterans and all people with disabilities, delegates met this past summer in sunny California to chart the course for the organization's continued success.

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"We gather in San Diego for PVA's 60th Annual Convention to discuss many important topics, all of which relate to our primary objective—to ensure quality healthcare and services for our members. That's been PVA's objective since 1947, when seven chapters met to form our organization. Today, at 34 chapters strong, and after many significant changes at PVA this past year, our clear objective continues to be to protect the availability of quality healthcare for our nearly 20,000 PVA members."

Gay Reich's uplifting remarks rivet the audience as she accepts the 2006 Speedy Award (member category/ posthumous) on behalf of her late husband, Alan Reich, National Organization on Disability founder.
So said PVA President Randy Pleva in the 2006 President's Message column in the convention journal. The Annual Convention, held August 26-September 2, took place at the Westin Horton Plaza in beautiful San Diego, Calif. (See "Convention Call: PVA Revisits San Diego," July PN.)

Pleva's words are not so different from Harry Schweikert's, recorded in the July 1971 PN about PVA's first convention in 1947:

"Although legislation and sports seem to have dominated the attention of the delegates, the omnipresent subjects of medical care and rehabilitation were discussed. The convention went on record urging the creation of domiciliary care in the VA hospital system, liberalization of the auto grant to enable eligibility for quadriplegics, the standardization of procedures for transporting the disabled aboard all national airlines, and the creation of a special spinal-cord research foundation."

Following the conclusion of World War II, veterans with spinal-cord injury (SCI) faced a country unprepared to deal with them or their needs. In addition, these veterans presented the medical profession with many new challenges. Although the advent of antibiotics was critical to initial survival of someone with SCI, the secondary conditions that paralysis caused, such as pressure ulcers and urinary conditions, meant long-term and specialized care.

In January 1946, seventy paraplegic patients at Birmingham General Hospital in California, including emissaries from another loosely organized paralyzed veterans group, decided to "found the nucleus of an organization to safeguard the interests of all paraplegic patients in the nation." These veterans requested permission of the hospital's commanding officer to send, through channels, all matters pertaining to the new organization to all paraplegic patients in other medical centers around the nation.

The Paralyzed Veterans of America was born, and with it came much needed representation and advocacy for millions of people with disabilities around the country.

Read more of the convention coverage and find out what resolutions were passed.


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Call to Order


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