WASHINGTON, Nov. 11, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Paralyzed Veterans of America today issued the following statement from its National President Al Kovach, Jr., in honor of Veterans Day:
"In November of 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day, or what we today call Veterans Day. At that commemoration, he said that this day would be: "filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"
This day is a time to pay tribute not just to those who have fallen, but also to all of the brave men and women who have so proudly worn the uniforms of our armed services and defended our great country. Many of whom are still serving, but now their uniforms are suits. At Paralyzed Veterans of America, those suits are accompanied by our wheelchairs. Veterans who work for veterans service organizations report for duty every day and defend the interests of their fellow veterans. Why? Because military men and women are part of a family that does not dissolve when their uniforms are removed.
We are truly our brother's and our sister's keeper. Our lives have depended on each other, and now so do our futures. We are from all different backgrounds and parts of the country. We vary in age, race and gender, yet we have all sacrificed in the name of freedom, and we have all come to serve again with a unified purpose.
Working within a veterans service organization reconstitutes the military camaraderie that formed our interdependency, and once again it gives us a shared mission—to provide for our brothers and sisters in arms. Veterans service organizations defend the rights and create opportunities for them, as well as their spouses, children, grandchildren and caregivers. We are both the beneficiaries and guardians of this work. This is why, after the painful realization that our uniforms—and in essence, what we considered our identities—are stripped away, so many of us return to service within the veteran community.
The year 2016 marks 70 years since a small band of paralyzed World War II veterans together became something bigger than honorably discharged and forever-changed former soldiers. They became leaders of civil rights, advocates of specialized medical care, and protectors of a better quality of life for veterans with spinal cord injury or disease. Since 1946, Paralyzed Veterans of America's veteran advocates have come to the bedsides and aid of tens of thousands of veterans and their families. It is an organization of veterans serving veterans.
Governed solely by paralyzed veterans who advocate for all veterans, the organization has endured through wars and times of peace, and twelve transitions of presidential power. It has continually adapted to ensure each generation of veterans has a unified voice, and that voice is heard to make progress toward change and to triumph over new challenges.
Because every generation of veterans ushers in its own set of challenges, each generation will achieve its goals by focusing on its mission and maintaining the core values that have compelled its members to dedicate their lives in service to their country. If we all do that, we all will have served with honor.
It is a different battlefield, but it is no less important. The world looks to America because she is strong, not just militarily, but strong in character and strong in the belief that freedom is worth the necessary price. The men and women who have worn, and still wear, the uniform in service to their country share that belief.
Seventy years from now, if a member of Paralyzed Veterans of America leadership was reading this, I would want him or her to know we shared a common mission, that we were one in spirit, and I would say with conviction of heart and mind 'thank you for your service.'
Paralyzed Veterans of America is the only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely for the benefit and representation of veterans with spinal cord injury or disease. For 70 years, we have ensured that veterans have received the benefits earned through their service to our nation; monitored their care in VA spinal cord injury units; and funded research and education in the search for a cure and improved care for individuals with paralysis.
As a partner for life, Paralyzed Veterans also develops training and career services, works to ensure accessibility in public buildings and spaces, provides health and rehabilitation opportunities through sports and recreation and advocates for veterans and all people with disabilities. With more than 70 offices and 34 chapters, Paralyzed Veterans serves veterans, their families and their caregivers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. (www.pva.org)
SOURCE Paralyzed Veterans of America