United Spinal Association

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Representatives of the United Spinal Association meeting with US Senator Debbie Stabenow

United Spinal Association is a nonprofit membership, disability rights and veterans service organization that was formed in 1946 as Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association. The mission of United Spinal Association is to improve the quality of life of Americans with spinal cord injuries or disorders. Since 1946, United Spinal Association has been advocating for civil rights for people with disabilities with the hope of maximizing personal independence and quality of life for people with disabilities.

In 1970, Executive Director James J. Peters set out to expose the deplorable conditions on the spinal cord injury units at the Bronx Veterans Hospital,[1] culminating in a Life magazine expose, the creation of the US Department of Veterans Affairs's dedicated Spinal Cord Injury Service. In addition, the Bronx Veterans Hospital was modernized, and now bears Mr. Peters' name as the James J. Peters VA Medical Center.[2]

In conjunction with Paralyzed Veterans of America, United Spinal Association helped found and continues to underwrite spinal cord injury research at the Yale Center for Neuroscience and Regeneration Research. This center remains under direction of Dr. Stephen Waxman.

United Spinal Association is recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs as a veterans' service organization; as such, United Spinal Association is authorized to prepare, present and prosecute claims for veterans benefits from the local VA regional office level to the Supreme Court. United Spinal Association's veterans service program is entitled VetsFirst.

Among the group's past and present members are Lex Frieden, Junius Kellogg and Frank Genese.

The charity evaluation organization Charity Navigator rated United Spinal Association 2 out of 4 stars in 2013[3] Charity Watch rates United Spinal Association / VetsFirst a "D" grade.[4] According to Charity Navigator. Paul Tobin, President & CEO, receives compensation of $110,000.


  1. ^ http://www.rehab.research.va.gov/jour/03/40/1/pdf/peters.pdf
  2. ^ http://www2.va.gov/directory/guide/facility.asp?id=205
  3. ^ "Charity Navigator: United Spinal Association". Retrieved 2013-03-06.
  4. ^ Charity Rating Guide and Watchdog Report, Volume Number 59, December 2011

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