Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) ~ Celebrates their Inspirational Stories

  • The PVA also invests in research through its Research Foundation, and funds new projects and research advances being made in spinal cord injury care.
  • I thought it might be useful to those of us with SCI/D and those inquiring about our SCD/I to share some insights.
  • I am so very much more than my wheelchair, my crutches or cane.

The Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) celebrates the strength and perseverance of veterans living with spinal cord injury or disease (SCI/D) by sharing their inspirational stories.

The PVA which is a 501 C 3 Charitable Veterans Service Organization (VSO) works arm in arm with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  Together they strive to ensure that veterans with spinal cord injuries are able to live full and productive lives through adaptive sports, employment, research advances, health care and accessible design for people with disabilities.

As a card carrying member of the PVA and participant of the Annual PVA/VA Wheelchair Games and Winter Sports Clinics, I have been inspired by the cost-free veteran programs, especially the adaptive skiing during my “Miracle on the Mountain” experience.

The PVA also invests in research through its Research Foundation, and funds new projects and research advances being made in spinal cord injury care. Click here to get involved or to learn more about PVA Awareness.

You would think that after dealing with an SCI/D for over 25 years which have resulted in six surgeries, two years of being wheelchair bound, countless hours of physical rehabilitation and numerous adaptive devices, I would have an easy answer to the question “So, what’s wrong with you?”

Actually, my responses have run the gamut from deflecting that question with humor saying something like: “Plenty! Just ask my Shrink!” I have told jokes about not paying gambling debts and depending on the situation recounted my helicopter crash sequence and the taking of enemy fire.  All the while, I stayed completely detached as if I were a third party observer.

So, I thought it might be useful to those of us with SCI/D and those inquiring about our SCD/I to share some insights.

I think those of us with SCI/D are in a unique position to be educators and teachers of the general population.  I am fully aware that we never asked for this role. Nonetheless, the job comes with the wheelchair, crutches, cane and other assistive devices.  Learning to be an educator and teacher in our special field can increase our own self determination and esteem.

Communication opens doors to understanding, and you really can’t blame people for being curious.  Personally, I try never to take myself too seriously.  After all, “you should see the other guy I got into the fight with.”

According to the “Yes, You Can! A Guide to Self Care for Persons with Spinal Cord Injuries,” your reactions can range from assertion to aggression to passivity. Obviously, the last to modes of communication are less than optimal…for anyone.

For my inquisitive friends, I advise you to ask about my condition with an objective of getting to know me.  I am so very much more than my wheelchair, my crutches or cane. “I am tougher than I look.” And I have one heck of a one minute “elevator speech” I love to share.

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Dana Matthews

Dr Dana Matthews is a Lieutenant Colonel, US Army Ranger (Retired). He holds a BA in Journalism, an MBA/JD Law Degree, and a Doctorate in Organizational Psychology.

He is a Member of the National Press Club in Washington DC and has appeared on TV and Radio.

He was awarded the Military Order of the Purple Heart for Combat Wounded Veterans.

Dr Dana Matthews is a well published Journalist and writer with articles appearing in the Scripps Newspaper/ TCPALM.COM

He also co authored and published a novel entitled " El Segundo- One Man's Journey for Redemption". 


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