A freak accident changed PVA Minnesota Chapter member Jeff Edwards’ life in an instant. While on vacation with friends in Ixtapa, Mexico, he went swimming in the ocean. Suddenly a huge wave came up that was so powerful it rolled Jeff as it receded, causing him to hit his head on the ocean floor. He was instantly paralyzed.
This left the U.S. Army National Guard veteran unable to return to his job as a West-Central Minnesota Deputy Sheriff and volunteer firefighter. 

The loss of his career became a major source of concern for Jeff as he was recovering in the hospital, and he began to panic about his future. “My biggest fear was, ‘What am I going to do? How am I going to support myself and my family,” Jeff recalls.

This is when he was introduced to Jim Arndt, who is a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor with PVA’s employment program, PAVE. Jeff and Jim worked together to find positions that would accommodate his life and be engaging.  They knew that this would be a process: while Jeff had a lot of great experience he could apply to a new industry, he would also need to develop new skills.  PVA is a Partner for Life in this regard, helping veterans find their own unique path to meaningful employment.

Jim first connected Jeff with a company that provides a work from home position that trains veterans with little or no IT experience to succeed in Help Desk positions. Jeff worked at the job for three years until he left for a better opportunity that would allow him to grow.

“PAVE has done a lot for me. It gives you options,” Jeff says.

However, the recent economic downturn resulted in Jeff’s hours being reduced, and he needed to seek different options. Jeff again reached out to Jim for guidance and they began to explore new opportunities. Jeff had been in communication with Grant County where he formerly worked as a Deputy Sheriff, and they offered him a position as a Dispatcher. Jeff was ready to make this transition to on-site work and is now back working for his county.

Jeff is very grateful for those companies who employ veterans with disabilities and thankful for PVA’s valuable support throughout his career.