The force of nature known as Ann Adair served in the U.S. Army for fourteen years. She was a reservist in a Civil Affairs Unit that served all over the world during emergencies and war situations.
While on active duty, she fell numerous times, injuring her back and knees. She now relies on a cane, a walker, or a scooter to get around. But that hasn’t slowed her down from being actively involved in her community and with PVA.
After her service, Ann worked for the VA and had just retired when she found a job working with PVA in the Medical Services department. She is a registered nurse, and brought her expertise in neurology and spinal cord issues to PVA for eleven years, until her injuries forced her to resign. She then realized that her injuries qualified her to be a member of PVA. She has been active ever since, most notably with the Colonial Chapter.
Ann is a champion for all of PVA’s advocacy efforts, and the organization’s work in the medical field. She is also enormously grateful for PVA’s help when it comes to her earned benefits – because if it hadn’t been for PVA, she never would have known she was service-connected for her disability.
We talked to Ann about the very unique way PVA works with VA hospitals and SCI/D units to ensure Veterans get the very best care possible, and the important role PVA’s National Service Officers play in the lives of those who have honorably served.
On VA Site Visits…
When I first came to PVA, I didn’t realize the very unique way that PVA works with the VA. We go on annual site visits and audit the VA Hospitals.
We always take a physician, a nurse, a member of PVA, and a National Service Officer from the local area who knows the staff. We interview everybody at the hospital, from the directors and chief of staff, to the nursing assistants, the physical therapists, and everyone down to the housekeeping staff.
We would talk to all the inpatients, and if outpatients came in, we’d talk to them as well.
And at the end of the interviews, we come up with recommendations to improve hospital care and address any concerns we have.
And then the hospital responds, and our report goes to the Secretary of the VA, and it often goes to Congress. PVA is the only organization that really does this kind of proactive research into patient care.
We have a positive relationship with the hospital staff and patients because we want them to be successful. We are there to do positive things for patient care – to get equipment for staff, to get pay raises, to keep new employees coming in, and to get the right education for everybody.
Speaking of education, everybody in the world can read the publications PVA produces that educate on spinal cord injury.
We produce clinical practice guidelines with experts all over the country in the field of spinal cord medicine, MS, and ALS. Everybody in the world can read these publications, and in fact, when I worked at PVA, I would get calls from Australia, Saudi Arabia, and all over who wanted us to send them our CPGs. They are significant for every practitioner.
If it weren’t for the research and education that PVA has funded since it was organized in 1946, some patients would never get out of the hospital. There have been amazing improvements in medicine that have allowed people with spinal cord injuries and diseases to get out and about.
On National Service Officers …
One of the things I found astounding when I worked at PVA is that we would teach this knowledge of neurological issues to our National Service Officers. They get extensive training in medical knowledge and benefits; I don’t know if any other veterans service organization does that.
Our service officers build great relationships with the hospitals, and PVA is fortunate that in many cases, we have offices right there in the hospital, very close to the Spinal Cord Injury Center. Some of our chapters are located in the hospital as well. We have really open communication and a great relationship with our colleagues in health care.
PVA’s service officers check on Veterans once a year to see where they are in their injury, and if they qualify for a change in service connection and additional benefits. You don’t have to be a member of PVA to get help from an NSO. I always recommend people go talk to a PVA officer when they need assistance.
PVA has been wonderful for me, personally. PVA has taught me so much about my own injury, and about other people’s injuries. They support research at various universities into spinal cord medicine, and mobility accessories. And they have worked to get state and federal laws passed to make accessibility much easier for everyone with a disability.
I always reach out to other Veterans and tell them to use PVA as a resource. We have absolutely wonderful service officers who can assist Veterans in a variety of ways.
I’m just really pleased I had the opportunity to work for PVA because it opened up a lot of things for me.