Paralyzed Veterans of America

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Paralyzed Veterans of America office, Washington, DC

The Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) is a veterans' service organization in the United States of America, founded in 1946. The organization has 34 chapters and 69 National Service Offices in the United States. It is based in Washington, D.C.

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


For more than 68 years, Paralyzed Veterans of America has been on a mission to change lives and build brighter futures for our seriously injured heroes—to empower these brave men and women with what they need to achieve the things they fought for: freedom and independence.

The organization was founded 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. 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 veterans service, medical research and civil rights for people with disabilities.

Today, the work continues to create an America where all veterans and people with disabilities, and their families, have everything they need to live full and productive lives.


Paralyzed Veterans of America, a congressionally chartered veterans service organization founded in 1946, has developed a unique expertise on a wide variety of issues involving the special needs of our members – veterans of the armed forces who have experienced spinal cord injury or dysfunction.

Paralyzed Veterans uses that expertise to be the leading advocate for:

• Quality health care for our members,

• Research and education addressing spinal cord injury and dysfunction,

• Benefits available as a result of our members’ military service,

• Civil rights and opportunities that maximize the independence of Americans with disabilities,

To enable PVA to continue to honor this commitment, it recruits and retains members who have the experience, energy, dedication, and passion necessary to manage the organization and ensure adequate resources to sustain the programs essential for PVA to achieve its mission.


From supporting important health issues to connecting people to vital resources and publications, Paralyzed Veterans of America is a multifaceted, fully committed advocate for veterans with spinal cord injury and disease (SCI/D) and their spouses. We are a member organization looking out for its members as well as all people with disabilities. Members receive numerous benefits and have their voice heard on issues that matter to them.

Legislation on Veterans Issues[edit]

Paralyzed Veterans of America works with policymakers to implement legislation to improve benefits and health care services for veterans and their families.

Paralyzed Veterans of America’s Legislation Program plans, coordinates, and implements Paralyzed Veterans’ relations with the United States Congress and federal departments and agencies. Through our relationships with federal, state, and local policymakers, Paralyzed Veterans works to ensure that veterans, their dependents, and survivors, receive the best benefits and highest quality health care available. These benefits include compensation, pensions, insurance, housing and employment. For example, Paralyzed Veterans:

• Ensures that veterans have access to quality, timely health care at VA medical facilities.

• Promotes and supports VA research on spinal cord injury, dysfunction and rehabilitation.

• Develops programs, including non-institutional long-term care, for aging veterans.

• Works for realistic, cost-effective VA funding through The Independent Budget. This is an annual comprehensive budget and policy guide that provides budget and policy recommendations for the Department of Veterans Affairs. It is co-authored by Paralyzed Veterans of America, AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Programs and Services[edit]

Our veterans are our heroes for life. After serving our country, serious injury shouldn’t stop them from living the full, rewarding lives they deserve. At Paralyzed Veterans of America, we fight for better health care and benefits, aid in the search for a truly satisfying career, and provide the path to adventure through adaptive sports. What’s more, Paralyzed Veterans is committed to ongoing care by educating clinicians about spinal cord injury, and we’re deeply invested in the future—a cure for paralysis.

Operation PAVE[edit]

PAVE (Paving Access for Veterans Employment) provides one-on-one vocational assistance and support to all veterans and their families as well as assistance to employers committed to hiring veterans. Through a unique public-private partnership with government and business leaders, PAVE counselors work from offices in VA Medical Centers and are part of many veterans’ interdisciplinary rehabilitation teams. The program is funded entirely through private donations and provided free of charge to veterans and employers.

Disability Rights and Advocacy[edit]

Core to Paralyzed Veterans of America 's mission is helping veterans and all people with spinal cord injury and disease (SCI/D) enjoy the high quality of life they deserve. Through Paralyzed Veterans of America's Advocacy Program, Paralyzed Veterans offers up-to-date disability rights information and resources on this website. Paralyzed Veterans further advocates for people living with SCI/D through speaking out on Capitol Hill and by working with federal agencies such as the Department of Justice to see that nondiscrimination laws are implemented and enforced.

Legal Services and Government Relations[edit]

Paralyzed Veterans of America advances its mission inside and outside of the courtroom. PVA's work to educate the public on veterans claims issues and connect attorneys with veterans law resources. Paralyzed Veterans of America's attorneys have litigated hundreds of cases on behalf of members and other veterans, helping them receive the benefits they have earned.

When veterans are denied benefits by the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, they have a right to appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and then to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. PVA's professional staff represents claimants in these courts and tracks legal issues that matter to veterans.



In 1946, Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) collaborated with the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) on accessible housing for paralyzed veterans. In 1986, PVA's "Barrier-Free Design Program" added the oversight of the design and construction of VA medical centers to its mission.


Today, the PVA Architecture department continues to fulfill its mission of advocating for accessible design. The wide range of work PVA Architects complete on a regular basis includes:

• Setting Standards: Helping to write wide-reaching building codes on accessibility

• Removing Barriers: Influencing the design of all building types to remove barriers, from large public projects to individual residences

• Coordinating with Teams: Working with the design teams on every VA medical center facility project affecting the spinal cord injury/disease (SCI/D) veteran population

• Developing Communications: Writing books, magazine articles, and leading accessibility and SCI/D healthcare design seminars to educate architects and students studying to become architects

Barrier-Free America Award[edit]

Paralyzed Veterans of America presents this award to an architect or project for employment of accessible architectural design. PVA aims to honor an architect or project for their demonstration of the importance of equal access and “Barrier-Free” designs for disabled veterans and all people with disabilities through their outstanding contributions to accessible design.

Past award recipients include the SPIRE Institute; Cesar Pelli, designer of Chicago's North Terminal; Edward K. Uhlir for Chicago's Millennium Park; Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, and other prestigious architects and organizations.

More information about the competition can be found at PVA's Barrer-Free Award webpage


When paralyzed veterans returning from World War II began playing wheelchair basketball at Veterans Administration hospitals, they and VA recognized sports as a valuable rehabilitation tool. Chapters of the fledgling organization that would become Paralyzed Veterans of America helped to organize games in communities around the country—and organized wheelchair sports were born. Since that time, Paralyzed Veterans of America has become a recognized national leader in wheelchair sports and recreation.

In outdoor events such as trapshooting and bass fishing or indoor events such as billiards or bowling, athletes who participate in Paralyzed Veterans-sponsored events derive therapeutic benefits on physical, emotional, and social levels.

National Veterans Wheelchair Games (NVWG)

Each year more than 500 novice and experienced athletes meet for a week of archery, swimming, weightlifting, basketball, quad rugby and more. It's the National Veterans Wheelchair Games, the largest annual wheelchair sports competition of its kind in the world. Throughout the week, veterans realize their abilities and potential while enjoying the spirit of healthy activity and fellowship. The Department of Veterans Affairs and Paralyzed Veterans of America have co-presented the Games since 1985.

External links[edit]