Paralyzed Veterans of America

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PVA 75th Anniversary Logo
Paralyzed Veterans of America
HeadquartersWashington, DC
LeaderDavid Zurfluh, President

The Paralyzed Veterans of America is a veterans' service organization in the United States of America, founded in 1946. The organization holds 33 chapters and 70 National Service Offices in the United States and Puerto Rico. It is based in Washington, D.C.[1] The organization was founded in 1946 by a band of service members who came home from World War II with spinal cord injuries. These service members wanted to live with independence and dignity and as contributors to society, so they created the organization to be governed by its members, veterans of the armed forces living with spinal cord injury or disease such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

PVA's team of legislative advocates, architects, medical professionals, lawyers, and other highly trained professionals strives to ensure that every veteran regains the freedom, independence, and quality of life they fought for. The organization is a major support system for our nation’s paralyzed heroes, their families, and caregivers, through ensuring quality health care; securing earned benefits; fighting for disability civil rights; making America more accessible; helping veterans find meaningful careers; empowering them through sports, recreation, and wellness programs; and funding both research and education in search for a cure and improved care and autonomy for individuals with paralysis. PVA helps paralyzed veterans and all people with disabilities live fuller, more productive lives.

The group holds a congressional charter under Title 36 of the United States Code.


PVA has developed a unique expertise on a wide variety of issues that affect veterans, specifically those with spinal cord injury or disease. PVA uses that expertise:

·        To advocate for and monitor the delivery of high quality and appropriate health care;

·        To assist in identifying and securing earned benefits available as a result of military service;

·        To promote research and education addressing spinal cord injury or disease;

·        To advocate for civil rights and opportunities that maximize independence of veterans and all people with disabilities.

PVA is unique in that it proudly serves as the lead voice on issues that impact not only veterans with disabilities, but all Americans.

Programs and services[edit]

Paralyzed Veterans of America delivers holistic recovery and transition for severely disabled veterans through integrative programs and services that fulfill all needs. These programs and services include veterans benefits, Veterans Career Program, medical services and health policy, research and education, architecture, government advocacy and legislation, and sports and recreation.

While the organization's programs and services particularly target veterans with spinal cord injuries and diseases, it also offers services to able-bodied, ill, wounded, and injured veterans of all branches, all conflicts, and all eras, all as well as to dependents, survivors, and caregivers to the global disability community. All support is offered free of charge to veterans and families and without government funding. Programs are funded by the support of individual donors and corporate sponsors.[2]

Veterans benefits[edit]

PVA offers assistance with VA claims and appeals to any veteran, family member, or caregiver – not just individuals who have sustained a spinal cord injury.

Shortly after a veteran is injured, a PVA National Service Officer comes to their bedside to assist them with filing for VA benefits, so that the veteran can focus solely on their health and recovery. NSO’s are experts in veterans’ law and VA regulations, and know how to apply that knowledge to fight for the benefits a veteran has earned. This includes claims for service-connected compensation, non-service connected pensions, home health care, specially adapted housing, automobile grants and adaptive equipment, and more.

Medical services and health policy[edit]

PVA’s medical services team strives to ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs is implementing best practices to improve quality of care in VA Spinal Cord Injury and Disorders Centers (SCI/D) across the country. During annual site visits to VA SCI/D and long-term care centers, PVA inspects facilities, confers with staff, ensures problems have been corrected, and speaks directly to patients about their needs. PVA’s site visit team is composed of physicians, nurses, staff, architects, and a field advisory committee who are paralyzed veterans themselves.

PVA’s medical services department also operates a SCI/D hotline and develops consumer and clinical practice guidelines widely considered to set the standard of care.

Veterans Career Program[edit]

PVA’s Veterans Career Program provides career assistance and vocational counseling to transitioning service members, veterans, military spouses, and caregivers. The program operates through eight locations nationwide: Atlanta, Long Beach, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Richmond, San Antonio, San Diego, and Washington, D.C.

Clients receive one-on-one engagement on their path toward meaningful employment. Support is focused on the unique needs of each client, and can range from in-depth vocational rehabilitation, to developing a resume or practicing interviewing skills. The program has strong relationships with key employers, and PVA is able to provide needed support to these employers so they can successfully integrate Veterans into their organizations.

PAVE staff work with any Veteran who needs help, but they specialize in those with barriers to employment, such as catastrophic injury or illness. This commitment was recognized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program, when PVA was a finalist for their Wounded Veteran and Military Caregiver Employment Award.

Veterans Career Live[edit]

Veterans Career Live is a virtual engagement initiative that reaches Veterans who do not have the time, means, or ability to attend traditional employment or educational events.

With Veterans Career Live, veterans can:

  •        Interact with PVA employment experts through virtual meetings.
  •        Access an online library of timely, relevant career information — on their schedule and from any device.
  •        View recorded presentations and other tools and resources on demand.
  •        Discover a wide range of meaningful education, volunteer, and employment opportunities.
  •        Meet companies and organizations eager to hire from the military and veteran community.


PVA promotes state-of-the-art healing facilities for spinal cord injured veterans at VA hospitals, as well as barrier-free environments around the country for all people with disabilities. To accomplish this, PVA employs on-staff architects who work directly the VA and design teams.

PVA is also a strong advocate for accessible design in the building and construction industries. PVA architects are frequently asked to consult on accessibility standards and building codes, and to work with cities and municipalities to improve access to facilities and transportation systems. They help advance accessible design through teaching, public speaking, seminars, and publications that deal with accessibility issues.

Some of PVA’s notable achievements include advising on the accessibility of:

  • Washington Nationals (Nationals Park) Ballpark
  • Virginia Governor’s Executive Mansion
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial
  • Minnesota Vikings (U.S. Bank) Stadium
  • REACH, a unique expansion of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Research and education[edit]

PVA supports research, educational programs, and other initiatives that unite people and activities toward a single mission: improved quality of life for everyone with spinal cord injury or disorders SCI/D, and diseases like MS and ALS.

The PVA Research Foundation funds scientists who conduct research to improve the lives of veterans and others living with SCI/D, as well as diseases like MS and ALS. These scientists address significant problems that impact our lives and develop new strategies to ameliorate them. Some strategies become clinical protocols and guide best practices, others are used to guide additional research efforts. All have the potential to be life changing for veterans and others living with SCI/D, their caregivers and health care partners.

Sports and recreation[edit]

From handcycling, bass fishing, bowling and billiards, to boccia, shooting sports, and an annual quad rugby tournament, PVA provides a wide variety of sports and recreation opportunities to enhance the fitness and quality of life for veterans with disabilities. It is often through participating in adaptive sports that many disabled veterans realize they can still live an active lifestyle in spite of their injuries.


PVA received a Gold Star rating from GuideStar based on organizational mission, impact, financial data, and commitment to transparency in accordance with GAAP. PVA has also earned GuideStar's Platinum Seal of Transparency by voluntarily sharing the measures of progress and results they use to pursue their mission.

In 2019, PVA was named one of the Top 5 Veterans Nonprofits by Impact Matters, a new charity rating system that measures the impact of contributions.


  • Gilbert Moss: 1947
  • Richard Moss: 1948
  • Bernard Shufelt: 1948–1949
  • Patterson Grissom: 1950
  • Stanley Reese: 1951
  • William Green: 1952–1953
  • Robert Frost: 1954–1955
  • Raymond Conley: 1956–1957
  • Harry A. Schweikert: 1958
  • Dwight Guilfol: 1959
  • Robert Classon: 1960–1961
  • John Farkas: 1962–1963
  • Harold Stone: 1964
  • Harold W. Wagner: 1964–1965
  • Leslie P. Burghoff: 1966–1967
  • Wayne Capson: 1968–1969
  • Carlos Rodriguez: 1970–1971
  • Frank DeGeorge: 1972–1973
  • Donald Broderick: 1974–1975
  • Edward Jasper: 1976–1977
  • Joseph Romagnano: 1978–1979
  • Micheal Delaney: 1980–1981
  • Paul Cheremeta: 1982–1983
  • Richard Hoover: 1984–1986
  • Jack Michaels: 1987–1988
  • David Parker: 1989
  • Victor McCoy: 1990–1991
  • Richard Johnson: 1992–1993
  • Richard Grant: 1994–1995
  • Kenneth Huber: 1996-1998
  • Homer Townsend, Jr.: 1999-2000
  • Joseph Fox, Sr.: 2001-2004
  • Randy Pleva, Sr.: 2005-2009
  • Gene Crayton: 2010
  • Bill Lawson: 2011-2014
  • Albert Kovach, Jr.: 2015-2017
  • David Zurfluh: 2017-2021
  • Charles Brown: 2021-

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About Us & Our History". Oregon Paralyzed Veterans of America. Retrieved 2020-03-20.
  2. ^ "PVA FAQs".
  • [1] (source of past PVA presidents)

External links[edit]