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Leading in Long Beach

Reprinted from PN/Paraplegia News November 2013

Budgets, a logo change and a different meeting schedule were all part of the 67th Annual PVA National Convention.

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On Aug. 13, Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) Directors, other organizational dignitaries and staff converged at the Westin Long Beach Hotel in California to hold the 67th Annual PVA Convention. 

The meeting in Long Beach, Calif., was historical in several ways. One of the most significant was the fact that it would be the last meeting held since PVA was founded to be based on the fiscal year that traditionally ran from the beginning of October of each year to the end of September of the following year.

The PVA Board of Directors (BOD) decided at an earlier meeting that all future meetings will be held on a fiscal year, which starts at the beginning of July each year and runs until the end of June the following year.

The significance of this for most of us who are just regular members and not involved in running the organization, is that it changes the time when future conventions and mid-year BOD meetings will be held.

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PN will make sure the times, dates and locations of future meetings are published in advance so those interested in attending can plan appropriately.

Dedicated Speakers

The convention began on the outside hotel plaza with an outstanding evening welcome reception sponsored by the host, California PVA Chapter. 

We were blessed with wonderful weather and food that is impossible to describe in the amount and variety. It was a wonderful evening and great to see friends and associates not seen since the last meeting. Finally, the evening drew to a close and preparation was made for the beginning of serious business.

The next morning, it was a pleasure to have the opportunity to see and hear two truly fine people who have dedicated themselves to improving care for the nation’s paralyzed veterans.


L-R: Eric Shinseki, Sherman Gillums, Jr., Sophia Chun, MD, Stanley Johnson, Lana McKenzie and Cynthia Abair. PVA honored Chun for her support and commitment to care for veterans with SCI/D.

The first speaker was the nation’s Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA), Eric Shinseki. He is not only a fine man, but one who knows that of which he speaks about. The secretary is a highly decorated combat veteran and a retired U.S. Army general. Shinseki spoke about his dedication to improving care for our country’s veterans and the work he was doing to improve all facets of the largest health delivery system in our country.

Then came Sophia Chun.  A PVA award recipient, Chun, MD, is chief of the Spinal Cord Injury/Disorders Service of the VA Long Beach Healthcare System — the largest spinal-cord injury (SCI) center in the VA health delivery system.

Chun is not only an outstanding physician, but has dedicated herself to moving the system of care for paralyzed veterans to new highs. She is working diligently to improve coordination between the SCI system and other specialties within a VA hospital to improve the overall quality of care for paralyzed veterans.

If there could be a model of what a great SCI chief should be, it could be patterned after Chun. 

Getting Started

Following the speakers, the meeting officially started with a flag presentation by Boy Scouts of America Troop 558 from Huntington Beach, Calif., and the presentation of colors.

The meeting from that point moved on to the beginning of business and what would prove to be a truly interesting five days. 

We could go into great detail about the business portion, but space prohibits that. Let us just say that PVA President Bill Lawson ran a smooth and efficient meeting that finished on time. The members of the executive committee gave their reports followed by reports of the PVA staff.

Executive director Homer Townsend and his staff did a great job in reporting how the PVA programs had operated during the past year and were questioned by the directors on areas that they had concerns about or wanted to see more information or greater detail.

After the staff reports, the meeting moved into one of its more interesting and potentially controversial sections.

Speedy Change

Chairman Lawson opened the new business part of the meeting, which permits directors and past national presidents to submit resolutions and speak on them.

This portion of the meeting can have a significant impact on how the organization is operated. One of the resolutions that came before the body was met with significant difference among the members in attendance. 

The resolution was about the logo that PVA has used for years since its creation as a veteran’s service organization. The long revered and loved “Speedy” logo was discussed and modified.

The change to the logo will need to be written about in a subsequent issue of PN. Suffice it to say, you may have an opinion on what you think about the modification.

The Vote is In

With the business part of the meeting complete, the PVA budget was introduced for discussion, modification and adoption.

The budget portion was efficiently handled and adopted. This portion of the meeting is always one of the most interesting and controversial parts. This one with a few exceptions went smoothly and the high point of the meeting was started. 

Each year, at the convention, PVA selects its leaders who make up the executive committee. The PVA Executive Committee is made up of the president, senior vice-president, vice-presidents, secretary, treasurer and immediate past president.

The election of the executive committee included Lawson winning a fourth term as national president. Senior vice president Al Kovach was also reelected, as were vice presidents Charles Brown, David Fowler and David Zurfluh. Craig Enenbach was reelected as treasurer and Larry Dodson as secretary. Gene A. Crayton automatically returns as immediate past president. Joining the executive committee as vice president for the upcoming term is Tammy Lawter, National Director of the Great Plains Chapter.

 

On to Orlando

With the election of the officers finished, the business portion of the meeting was adjourned until the following day when the closing awards brunch was held.

Great food was once again provided, and master of ceremonies Doug Vollmer presided over the presentation of the awards to the people and corporations who had been selected for recognition by PVA for outstanding service to the organization. 

With that, the 67th Annual PVA Convention drew to a close. It was a great meeting, held with the dignity and rectitude that was appropriate for one of our nation’s finest veteran’s service organizations.

We can now begin preparations for the next meeting, knowing that it will be the first in a new fiscal year and held under a logo different than the one that has served us so well. However, we’ll have to wait a little longer to know exactly what the new logo will look like.

The 68th annual PVA Convention is set for Feb. 11–14, 2014, in Orlando, Fla.

For more information and photos from the PVA Convention, visit pva.org. 

 

 

Good Job Speedy!

With the PVA Board of Director’s decision at August’s national convention to change Speedy again, we’ll have to wait and see what the new logo looks like and what the new Speedy has become. Stand by. 

 

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Leading in Long Beach

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