WASHINGTON, June 4, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Veterans and leaders from business, government and the armed services took to the fairways at Trump National Golf Club for the fifth annual Paralyzed Veterans Golf Open. The event, hosted by Agility Defense & Government Services, raised more than $350,000 for Paralyzed Veterans of America's vocational rehabilitation services program – Operation PAVE (Paving Access for Veterans Employment). The program aims to end unemployment for veterans with disabilities by paving a path for competitive careers, economic self-sufficiency and vocational fulfillment for any veteran seeking improved quality of life.
Since 2008, the Paralyzed Veterans Golf Open has raised more than $1.5 million for Operation PAVE. The $350,000 in funds from this year's event marks the highest total amount raised in the tournament's five-year history.
"We thank Agility and all of those who came out today for their continued support of this important effort to get our disabled veterans back to work," said Bill Lawson, national president of Paralyzed Veterans of America. "Hiring more veterans with disabilities is a win-win for our country. Those who served are able to secure good careers; employers get great employees; and in turn, our economy becomes stronger."
As the founding sponsor, Agility Defense & Government Services has funded the tournament since its inception in 2008, ensuring that 100 percent of the proceeds raised each year are allocated to Operation PAVE.
"For me personally this is not just about a golf tournament," said Rich Brooks, Agility's vice president of logistics operations and an Army veteran. "This is about bringing folks together who care about our service members. It is about providing a network of people who can help wounded veterans get back into the workforce after life-threatening injuries.
This year's tournament kicked off with a golf clinic for veterans with disabilities, led by Anthony Netto of the Stand Up & Play Foundation and PGA golf pro Al Fenstomocher, who specializes in training injured players. Showcased during the clinic was an adaptive golf cart featuring technology that lifts disabled players to a standing position, allowing them to swing freely. Participants were given the opportunity to try out one of these carts during the tournament as well.
Statistics indicate that the unemployment rate for veterans with severe disabilities is about 85 percent. Paralyzed Veterans' vocational rehabilitation program aims to make this grim statistic a thing of the past. Since 2007, Operation PAVE has served more than 1,200 veterans and has placed more than 130 hard-to-place clients at an average salary of $49,000. Currently serving all 50 states and Puerto Rico through six regional offices co-located with VA spinal cord injury centers (Augusta, Boston, Long Beach, Minneapolis, Richmond, San Antonio) Paralyzed Veterans' goal is to expand PAVE nationwide, eventually establishing offices at all 24 VA spinal cord injury centers.
Funds raised from the 2012 Golf Open will go towards the opening of Operation PAVE's newest center at the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa, FL later this year.
Paralyzed Veterans of America was founded by a group of seriously injured American heroes from the "Greatest Generation" of World War II. They created a nonprofit organization to meet the challenges that they faced back in the 1940s — from a medical community not ready to treat them to an inaccessible world. For more than 66 years, Paralyzed Veterans' national office and its 34 chapters across the nation have been making America a better place for all veterans and people with disabilities. (www.pva.org)
SOURCE Paralyzed Veterans of America