“From Day One”
Message from THE


Robert L. Thomas, Jr. National President and Chairman of the Board

It is an honor to be Paralyzed Veterans of America’s new National President. As a U.S. Army Veteran and long-time PVA member, I know its impact firsthand. PVA was there for me from day one following my diving accident more than 30 years ago and has remained by my side ever since. 

For more than 75 years PVA has served Veterans with spinal cord injuries, like myself, as well as Veterans with spinal cord diseases, like MS and ALS, and all people with disabilities – comforting them on their worst day, helping them heal, empowering them in their communities, and advocating on their behalf throughout their lives. 

Growing up on Cleveland’s East side and living with paralysis has taught me a lot about integrity, resiliency, and empathy. These values drive my dedication to PVA and shape my vision for our future. 

America’s Veterans are the backbone of this nation – having sacrificed their lives and time away from their loved ones. They put their bodies on the line to serve and protect us, and they deserve to live with opportunities, independence, and dignity now that they are home.

Every day, I am inspired by PVA’s 33 chapters and 230+ employees across the U.S. who work hard every day toward that mission – but we cannot succeed without the help of our community partners and supporters.

I look forward to working with you as PVA fights to help even more Veterans live productive, independent lives free from barriers.

Message from THE


Carl Blake CEO

This year, PVA accomplished so much to support paralyzed Veterans and people with disabilities. These achievements were made possible by our partnerships with the Department of Veterans Affairs and other federal agencies, generous partners and supporters, and dedicated staff.

We expanded our membership, attracting nearly 650 new Veterans with MS and ALS. We made major strides on Capitol Hill. In April, President Biden signed an Executive Order prioritizing caregivers, which, thanks to PVA, includes home-based care for Veterans. Another win was our impact on air travel, with the Department of Transportation’s “Airlines Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights,” which PVA helped develop, as well as a feature on this effort in The New York Times.

We also returned to hosting our signature in-person events and debuted new programming. We presented The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, with our prestigious Barrier-Free America Award for its commitment to and work on accessible design, hosted 900+ medical professionals and partners at our Healthcare Summit + Expo, and hosted nearly 50 women Veterans with disabilities at our Empowerment Retreat designed exclusively for them. We also launched a Health & Wellness program and self-employment workshop – collectively reaching hundreds of Veterans across the country.

These achievements are just the beginning. We continue to build on that momentum and important work with our supporters to ensure the unique needs of Veterans remain at the forefront. 

Lastly, I extend a warm welcome to Robert Thomas as PVA’s new National President and look forward to another productive year with him at the helm.


Meeting at Bedside

PVA employs 69 National Service Officers, who work inside VA SCI/D Medical Centers and VA Regional Offices throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. From Day One of a Veteran’s injury or diagnosis, they meet them at bedside, and help them secure their earned benefits, including grants that help them modify their homes and cars. PVA provides nonstop training for NSOs, directors, administrative staff, and others through our Continuing Education Program, so these advocates stay up-to-date on VA statutes and regulations, and SCI-related issues.

23K+ New claims filed
$230.5M+ New annual and retroactive payments to Veterans and their families secured
$39M+ In auto & automobile adaptive equipment grants facilitated
$29.9M+ In specially adapted housing grants facilitated
From Day One, PVA helped me with my earned benefits and the support that makes my life more independent and accessible.” Marco, U.S. Army Veteran

Securing Specialized Care

We are the only VSO given unprecedented, exclusive access inside all of VA’s 25 SCI/D Medical Centers, where our licensed nurses, administrators, physicians, architects, and Field Advisory Committee made up of PVA members conduct annual site visits. Through collaboration with all clinicians involved in care including VA medical center leadership, physicians, nurses, and therapists, we address areas of concern, share best practices, and provide recommendations for improvement. This access is critical to ensuring all Veterans – regardless of gender - receive the best health care possible at facilities that are wholly accessible.

20 Site visits conducted (5 virtual, 15 in-person)
30+ Significant VA SCI/D design, construction, and renovation projects
4 New major VA SCI/D facilities (consulted on design and construction): San Diego, Dallas, Tampa, and St. Louis
“PVA came out for design meetings, and provided input and collaborated with the architects on the design of the building and other things, such as parking spaces. It's important to collaborate, and I feel like PVA has been a good advocate for us.” Cynthia Abair, Associate Director of the VA San Diego Health Care System


Promoting Healing Through Activity

We offer a variety of free adaptive sporting and recreation opportunities. We also continue to introduce new programs – both in-person and virtually – that help thousands of Veterans across the country improve their physical and mental health. These offerings enable Veterans with mobility issues to grow physically stronger and more confident, and provide them with opportunities to travel and build relationships. Our new year-round Health & Wellness Program exclusively for Veterans, their families and caregivers, is comprised of virtual courses focused on movement and mindfulness.

2.3K+ Total participants
399 Sports and recreation opportunities offered
150+ Hosted Annual Wheelchair Rugby Invitational Tournament: 152 athletes; 15 teams; 48 games
300+ Co-presented the Annual National Veterans Wheelchair Games alongside the VA: 300+ Athletes; 20+ Sporting Events
“Getting involved with adaptive sports and PVA changed my life.” Karla, U.S. Air Force Veteran

Empowering with Education 

We use our expertise to provide continual training to healthcare professionals through specialized medical publications and an annual Healthcare Summit. We also educate Veterans, people with disabilities, and the general public on everything from important legislative actions, public awareness campaigns, and accessibility issues.

$94K+ In four education grants awarded
665 Hosted Annual Healthcare Summit + Expo: 665 attendees; 309 Clinicians; 200 lodging scholarships to clinicians awarded
200 Nearly 200 members subscribed to our female-only PVA Women Empowered Facebook Group
60K+ In circulation of two monthly magazines in both print and digital formats, including: PN Magazine (for better wheelchair living) and Sports & Spokes (for wheelchair sports and recreation)

Launched our #JustPlaneWrong digital campaign inviting social media influencers to join PVA in raising awareness about the dangers and challenges of inaccessible air travel.

“I like that PVA has made a network for women to come together because we are an underserved population.” Candice, U.S. Army Veteran


Creating Accessible Homes and Communities

We believe in access for everyone, everywhere – so we fight for accessible communities and transportation options that guarantee when Veterans return home, they can live comfortably in their communities. This means giving them the tools they need to have accessible homes, drive their own vehicles, and live a well-rounded life – just like everyone else.

50 Pro bono architectural consultations completed about modifications to homes, workplaces, retail spaces, and public buildings
400+ Attendees at our 8 seminars on accessible home design
11.5 Years is the average life of a modified vehicle, which costs tens of thousands of dollars to replace. We led the charge in the development and passage of the Veterans Auto and Education Improvement Act, which helps Veterans maintain safe and accessible vehicles

DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg cited one of PVA National President Charles Brown’s flight experiences as an example of why they will work to allow wheelchair users to remain in their chairs during air travel. We were also heavily involved in the development of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights.”

“We believe that all persons have the right to experience and engage with the arts... it is an immense honor to receive this award and we continue to value our longstanding relationship with PVA.” Deborah F. Rutter, President of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Fighting for Disability Civil Rights 

We meet regularly with federal government leadership, members of Congress and cabinet secretaries, and testify on Capitol Hill on topics like accessible transportation, adaptive vehicles, housing modifications, and disability employment incentives. We also send out legislative alerts and petitions in our effort to make sure paralyzed Veterans and all Americans with disabilities can live an independent life free of barriers. 

12 Congressional testimonies before the House and Senate
5K+ Individuals participated in our national grassroots advocacy network, PVAction Force, and took 7K+ actions in support of our legislative efforts
135 Hosted 2023 Advocacy Legislation Seminar: 135 attendees – 70+ representatives from 32 PVA chapters – secured over 325 meetings on Capitol Hill
6 PVA legislative policy priorities released that inform and focus our advocacy efforts throughout the current Congressional session

Presented then-Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) with the Gordon H. Mansfield Congressional Leadership Award in honor of his leadership and support of people with disabilities.

“For generations, PVA has been a leading voice for paralyzed Veterans and as chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, I am grateful to have you [PVA] as partners in the fight to ensure all Veterans have access to the care and benefits that they have earned." Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.)

Establishing Meaningful Careers 

We provide free employment support and vocational counseling to all Veterans, transitioning service members, spouses and caregivers. We guide them toward meaningful careers and stay with them through job, education, and lifestyle changes, with an expertise in placing those with disabilities. We also provide the guidance and tools they need to build successful businesses.

223 Clients placed: 173 paid employment; 40 education/training; 10 volunteer
$70K Nearly $70K is average salary of a Veteran placed by PVA, which is 35% above the Veteran national average
82 Veterans Career Live sessions online completed
“It’s been a great experience working with the PVA Veterans Career Program. I’ve learned valuable job related skills, regained a lot of confidence, and after many years have reentered the workforce.” Brian, U.S. Navy Veteran


Increasing Quality of Life   

We fund research grants and fellowships for researchers seeking a cure for paralysis and improvements in quality of life. We also fund research projects and support breakthroughs that prolong the life of those with SCI/D, MS, and ALS.

$899K+ 7 PVA Research Foundation grants awarded totaling $899,360
$250K Grant awarded to Neuroscience and Regeneration Research Center at Yale University, for continuing to conduct cutting-edge research into spinal cord injury, MS and neuropathic pain
$100K Grant awarded to Human Engineering Research Laboratory at University of Pittsburgh, for continuing to develop new assistive technology devices for mobility
“Out of all the organizations I belong to, PVA did the most for me to help improve my quality of life.” Mike, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran

Representing Before the High Courts 

We employ a team of six licensed lawyers and legal professionals who provide free counsel and legal representation to PVA members and their family members, and other Veterans with disabilities before the VA and the federal courts. We also represent all Veterans and non-veterans with disabilities in broad impact appeals before the federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. These cases involve entitlement to VA veterans benefits and healthcare, accessibility, and enforcement of the civil rights of those with disabilities.

347 Veteran and family member clients represented through legal briefs, written presentations, personal hearings, and oral arguments before the VA and the federal courts
32 Veterans represented in federal court appeals of denied VA benefits, with a 95% favorable decision rating
319 VA decisions on appeal received, with a 72.9% favorable decision rating
1,000+ Private attorneys who have volunteered to represent Veterans without charge before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veteran Claims mentored (as part of the Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program)
“It took 9 years, 5 months, and 25 days to win. I’m just so grateful for everything PVA did for me because if they hadn’t taken me on and believed in me, I would have never won this case. I tell everybody who is having issues with VA benefits to go to PVA.” Judith, surviving spouse and PVA client

Supporting Veterans, Families & Caregivers 

Our commitment to Veterans extends to their families and caregivers, because a full system of support is crucial to care. We offer educational scholarships to children of our members, emergency relief funds after natural disasters, and help secure additional benefits and continued support for dependents after death.

149K Clients contacted, to include Veterans, families, caregivers, and surviving spouses
$15K Six full-time student scholarships awarded
$97K+ In disaster relief fund payments distributed

Our “A Day in the Life” video spotlights the importance of caregivers and the Elizabeth Dole Home and Community Based Services for Veterans and Caregivers Act (H.R. 542/S. 141)

“PVA is like the Marines of VSO’s – first ones in, last ones out.” Troy, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran


PVA membership is free, and we do not charge Veterans for our services. Our work relies on the generosity of individuals, organizations, and corporations to support our programs.

FY23 Financial Summary
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