Paralyzed Veterans of America Wisconsin Chapter, Rotary Club of New Berlin, New Berlin RotaryGus Sorenson and Ken Matthews
A helping hand for those who served
Military veterans with paraplegia and other spinal cord dysfunction have a great resource in Paralyzed Veterans of America. And Milwaukee is blessed to be home to the Wisconsin chapter. Gus Sorenson, Government Relations Director, and chapter Vice President Ken Matthews reviewed their organization during our April 22 meeting.
PVA helps individuals with spinal cord injuries, as well as those with MS and ALS. The injury does not have to be service related. Gus' quadriplegia is the result of an automobile accident that occurred years after he left the Army. ("Please lock your seatbelt," he says. "We don't need any more statistics.")
The organization helps veterans obtain quality healthcare and counseling, and advocates for accessibility and other needs. Matthews says PVA is highly regarded in Congress for its advocacy efforts. The PVA secured more than $1 billion in funding this past year. "No benefits group has gotten as much for vets as Paralyzed Vets of America," Matthews says.
Problems with VA hospitals in Phoenix and Tomah, Wis., have tarnished the VA's image somewhat. Even so, VA hospitals consistently get high marks in surveys. "Nobody can care for a disabled vet like the VA can," Matthews says.
In addition to helping with healthcare needs, PVA encourages veterans to participate in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games. Wheelchair-bound veterans compete in a variety of sports, including track and field, swimming, rugby, table tennis and trap shooting. "[The games are] great fun and great confidence builders," Matthews says. The newly injured, especially, realize that they can accomplish things.
Paralyzed Veterans of America was founded in 1946. The Wisconsin chapter, located in West Allis, opened in 1982. It has about 330 regular members and more than 300 associate members. While their efforts are limited to current and former service personnel, the office occasionally receives calls from nonveterans. They gladly offer information and referrals. "We do whatever we can to help people," Sorenson says.
For more information, visit their website, or call 414-328-8910.
In other news, club president Scott Klaas announced the formation of an Interact club at New Berlin Eisenhower Middle/High School. Eight students, including all four World Affairs Seminar students, attended the inaugural meeting. "They had a ton of enthusiasm, and I believe this will only grow," Scott says.