Paralyzed Veterans of America, a Congressional chartered veteran’s service organization, was founded, in 1946, by a band of service members who came home from World War II with a spinal cord injury. They returned to a grateful nation, but also to a world with few solutions to the challenges they faced and a society where those with a spinal cord injury had a life expectancy of 12 months or less. They made a decision not just to live, but to live with dignity as contributors to society. They created Paralyzed Veterans of America, an organization dedicated to veteran’s service, medical research, adaptive sports and civil rights for people with disabilities. The work continues, through local chapters, to create an America where all veterans and people with disabilities, and their families, have everything they need to live full, healthy and productive lives. Paralyzed Veterans of America’s national office and its local chapters currently represent nearly 19,000 veterans in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Because of the influence Paralyzed Veterans of America has had in the field of spinal cord injury and disease research and education, today the life expectancy of those with spinal cord injury or disease is equal to that of able-bodied individuals.
Operating in Central Florida since 1977, the Paralyzed Veterans of America Central Florida chapter (PVACF) has developed a unique expertise on a wide variety of issues involving the special needs of quadriplegics, paraplegics and those managing ALS and Multiple Sclerosis. We use that expertise to be the leading advocate for; quality healthcare for our members, research and education addressing spinal cord injury and dysfunction, benefits available to veterans as a result of their service to our country, civil rights, and opportunities which maximize their independence. We keep our veterans connected through core programs that assist them in applying for and obtaining veteran’s benefits in a timely manner by providing a liaison with VA Medical Centers or other institutions where paralyzed veterans receive health care, by publishing a monthly magazine that keeps paralyzed veterans informed of what is happening nationally and locally in the legislature that directly effects them and their families, and by providing paralyzed veterans and other persons with disabilities opportunities in adaptive sports and recreation in an effort to enhance a lifetime of health and fitness and offer better quality of life. Beginning in 1977 with just 23 members, the organization has grown to include 363 veterans who have a spinal cord injury or dysfunction. Members are engaged through advocacy, adaptive sports and special events that help keep them active and connected.