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Reprinted from PN/Paraplegia News April 2014

Corporate America needs to be made aware of PVA and the unique programs our chapters offer to the community.

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It’s that time of the year again! April and our traditional Paralyzed Veterans of America Awareness Month (PAM)!

This time is set aside each year to spread the word and celebrate all that Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) does for its members, as well as the entire disabled community. In past years, I’ve pushed across America, carrying the message of hope and opportunity for our veteran membership telling all who will listen about PVA’s outstanding work. This year will be no different.

As I write this message, we’re still planning where my travels will take me. Naturally, at the very top of my agenda will be visits to spinal-cord injury (SCI) centers in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system to check in with both patients and staff.

As always, emphasis is being placed on reaching out to the public through various media sources. Last year in New York City, I did what is known as a satellite TV tour. The “tour” consisted of an area where I was virtually linked to television stations via satellite.

On that particular morning, I was interviewed by 24 local television stations across the country. Working with PVA’s Communications Department, it’s our hope to set up a similar forum this month.

In my January PVA From the Top column, I asked you to think about making a New Year’s resolution to share time with a local PVA chapter by volunteering. During this year’s PAM events, I plan to focus on volunteerism as one of my main agenda items.

The month of April is when we’re making a concerted effort to make the public aware of PVA, and it’s the perfect time to put that resolution into play. We know the chapters can use an extra hand, and what better way to volunteer than to assist in organizing an event designed to bring PVA’s mission to the public eye.

In addition to chapter members volunteering, perhaps an effort should be made to reach out to business leaders and community organizers who may be interested in supporting local chapter activities.

A prime example of the degree of support one business can make is UPS and the man-hours they provide in volunteering at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games. They’re incredibly visible that week.

I would also be remiss if I were to neglect mentioning the VA staff who volunteers at the Games and who, incidentally, “take their vacation time” to help out.

Usually when I do my push across America, I arrange to meet with corporations and their leadership. Many of these corporations have offices across the country. I plan to make them conscious of the importance of the programs our local chapters sponsor and the need for their help. Hopefully, I can reach out and encourage them that volunteering is worthwhile and the right thing to do for our veterans.

Corporate America needs to be made aware of PVA and the unique programs our chapters offer to the community. Realistically, chapters can’t rely solely on members for assistance as many tasks require able-bodied people. You would be surprised at how willing good Americans are when asked to lend a hand.

Another resource for volunteerism in America that is often overlooked is our youth. High school students looking to qualify for scholarships are searching for opportunities to do some community service. Community outreach and service is impressive on their scholarship applications. An additional avenue might be a youth church or scouting group.

Once these young people are in college, they’re still seeking opportunities to volunteer. As an example, our PVA national office has had several interns working in various departments to gain experience in their field of study. Give these young men and women a try. It just might work.

While on the subject of volunteering how about making plans to visit a hospitalized veteran in your local VA? Don’t forget about those living in nursing homes, too.

 

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