Positive Steps

Reprinted from PN January 2010

Thanks to loyal supporters, hard-working staff, and a well-focused mission, PVA continues to make a positive impact in veterans' lives.

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I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable holiday season and that the New Year is a good one. Now is the time to reflect on the past year and decide what we can do better. Many of us have made resolutions we may or may not stick to, but it’s good to have goals. I have only one resolution—to address some of the issues facing PVA as we move forward during this economic downturn.

On the other hand, we at PVA have had a good year in many respects. We fared a lot better than similar nonprofits in fund-raising. I attribute that to having loyal supporters, hard-working leaders, professional staff, and a well-focused mission. We are thankful for all the contributors who helped us keep our head above water during these trying times.

We can look back on some accomplishments with pride and a sense of satisfaction due to our continued partnership with other veterans service organizations and our Independent Budget (IB) friends. This year, thanks to the new administration and the hard work of the IB participants, Congress approved the biggest increase in veterans’ healthcare funding in history. With the proper oversight we should start seeing increased staffing and better reports coming from our Medical Services staff after site visits to the SCI/D centers and clinics. The overused diplomatic answer “We will treat MS and ALS depending on our resources” when asked about those patients being admitted to or treated on the spinal-cord unit, goes out the window. In short, no more excuses!

Just a couple of months ago, President Obama signed into law the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 2009. After many years of unsuccessfully advocating that VA receive mandatory funding, PVA and the other eight veterans service organizations comprising the Partnership for Veterans Health Care Budget Reform developed this proposal to ensure VA receives the funding it needed on time. The need for this critical reform is evident in the fact that in 20 of the last 24 years, VA has not received its funding prior to the start of the new fiscal year. The uncertainty about their budgets made hospital administrators tighten their purse strings even more than before, creating more difficulties for PVA members who need replacement or repairs to expensive equipment. In addition, some members experienced delays in getting desperately needed supplies. PVA is now in a better position to firmly stand behind our premise that patients should be issued what the doctor orders, regardless of cost.

Another highlight of the year was that PVA, the Mountain States Chapter, and the Veterans Coalition won a hard-fought battle with the government for a new free-standing VA hospital with a 30-bed SCD center in Denver. PVA Architecture was instrumental in the success of a new VA “state-of-the art” SCI/D center in Minneapolis. Our partnership with VA was also strengthened through a directive (7501) to include PVA architects in construction of all spinal-cord centers throughout the nation.

Also this year, the generosity of corporate sponsors allowed us to open two Vocational Rehabilitation Centers to assist unemployed veterans. These new facilities—located in San Antonio and Long Beach (Calif.)—will further the mission of improving the productivity and employment rates of veterans with SCI/D. By so doing, veterans will have a better chance of achieving a satisfactory quality of life and a more favorable adjustment to their disability, contribute more to society, and improve their chances of financial security.

Looking at the overall picture, I believe PVA has had a good year. I would like to thank my fellow Executive Committee members and PVA staff, board of directors, and supporters.

May happiness and prosperity be yours throughout the New Year, and may God bless you and yours.


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