Cards & Congress

Reprinted from PN/Paraplegia News March 2014

Submit original artwork for a chance to be used on the PVA holiday card and learn about the annual Legislation/Advocacy Seminar.

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It might appear untimely to mention Christmas in March, but the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) national office has to plan well in advance for the holidays.

Each year we send out holiday greetings in the form of a corporate card. These cards are mailed to other veteran service organizations, members of Congress, dignitaries and especially to all the corporations that sponsor our programs through their generous contributions.

Designing the perfect card is the mission of our development department. They’re tasked with locating a variety of appropriate artwork, which is then presented to the national president to select. This responsibility is one of the more pleasurable duties assigned to my office and one I find to be a distinct privilege.

Several years ago, I discovered one of our PVA members, Fred Cowell, who was employed at our national office in the government relations department at the time, was taking art classes. He shared several of his wonderful winter scenes with me.

I remember thinking some of these would make great artwork for a Christmas card. This past year, I decided to go with one of his pieces of art for our corporate card.

I had our staff print on the back of the card a little of Fred’s history, which served to inform those receiving it that the artwork on the front was done by a PVA member. My decision to include his winter scene was to showcase some of the artistic abilities of our members and employees thus accenting our abilities and not our disabilities. 

My concept for future PVA greeting cards is to request that any of you who have artistic skills produce a piece of art that has a winter or holiday theme. Send us a sample and we’ll view each piece. We’ll then make a decision on which one we’ll use for this year’s card. 

Artwork must be original and not a copy of someone else’s work. Once we choose the art, you’ll be informed and we’ll gather a small amount of your history to include on the back of the card. If your artwork is selected, we’ll then require the original to send it to our printer where the card will be produced.

Our plan is to reward the individual whose artwork is selected with a $100 gift card. Not only would the gift card act as an incentive, but it would also acknowledge your artistic effort that would appear on hundreds of holiday cards.

All other artwork will be returned to the artist. You can always resubmit it for the following year. If you would like to send your artwork to us for consideration you can mail it to:


Paralyzed Veterans of America

Attn: President’s Office

801 18th St., NW

Washington, D.C. 20006


I look forward to receiving a number of entries. Let’s showcase our abilities to America!

Also happening this month, PVA will be holding its annual Legislation/Advocacy Seminar. During this seminar, we’ll once again have the opportunity to give oral testimony to the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees on Capitol Hill.

It has been an honor and a privilege to represent our organization with this testimony for the past three years. The primary topic of this year’s testimony will be the changes to the prosthetics purchases in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Recently, changes were instituted that limit the local purchasing agent’s ability to order items that cost more than $3,000. 

You can imagine how this affects our membership. Most of us are using wheelchairs that exceed that amount. So, with these proposed changes, there will be yet another line of approval before these chairs can be ordered. That  process dictates the order must go to the Veterans Integrated Service Network headquarters for approval.

We’ve witnessed some cases where the “approving authority” has changed the order to a less expensive chair. With this thought in mind, consider the individual/client has already visited the physical therapy department in his or her local VA for assessment and been prescribed with the type of equipment that best fits his or her needs.

We’re also seeing unreasonable delays in the initial ordering of equipment. PVA has been involved in documenting these cases in order to back up our position when we approach Congress. 

Our testimony this year doesn’t just apply to our membership. Imagine the cost of an artificial limb. Loss of limb is one of the signature injuries as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Traumatic brain injury is another.

These folks may require special equipment in order for them to function in some semblance of normal life and one of our members might require a wheelchair. As in the past, I will publish my entire testimony in a future issue of PN

In closing, please make sure you allow some time in your schedule to visit a hospitalized veteran. Be sure to include those in nursing homes, too. 


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