Former PVA client named deputy executive director
A former client of Paralyzed Veterans of America’s (PVA) jobs program has been named deputy executive director of the national organization that serves nearly 20,000 veterans with spinal cord injury or disease.
Sherman Gillums Jr., a U. S. Marine Corps veteran, first became involved with PVA through its innovative Operation PAVE (Paving Access for Veterans Employment) vocational program. Gillums has since held a number of positions, most recently associate executive director of veterans benefits, where for nearly four years he has strategically reshaped the veterans benefits department for a 21st century reality, including initiatives to improve veterans’ employment.
Gillums began his career with PVA as a national service officer in San Diego, where he developed Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits claims and clinical appeals for veterans and families in the area. He later became involved with the local PVA chapter and went on to become chapter president. He also served on PVAs’ National Field Advisory Committee.
After earning a master’s degree in executive management from the University of San Diego, Gillums returned to the VA benefits claims arena as an appellate representative at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals in Washington, DC. He was promoted to associate executive director of the veterans benefits department in 2011.
“Paralyzed Veterans of America has separated itself from the pack as a lead voice for veterans with severe disabilities,” Gillums said. “For nearly 70 years, our organization has challenged our society and government through the relentless pursuit of quality health care, full benefits, equal rights and job opportunities for our nation’s most underserved veterans.”
“As associate executive director of veterans benefits, my staff and I ensured that VA remained cognizant of the human lives that were impacted by sweeping changes in the VA health care system and benefits process, especially those who live with traumatic spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis and terminal conditions like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease). That effort will continue on a larger scale in my new position as deputy executive director.”
Gillums began his military career in the U.S. Marine Corps when he enlisted at the age of 17 and quickly ascended into leadership, retiring as a chief warrant officer. Four months after the September 11, 2001 attacks, as he prepared to deploy to Afghanistan with the 1st Marine Division, Gillums was involved in a vehicle collision at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and became severely disabled. He sustained a cervical spine injury that ended his military career at age 29. Gillums received an honorable discharge from military service and went on to pursue a new career in advocacy for veterans with disabilities.
During his military career, Gillums earned two Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medals, a Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal and a Global War on Terror Service Medal. His leadership résumé includes graduation from the Marine Corps Sergeants Course, Senior Drill Instructors Course, Warrant Officer Basic School, and the topflight Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructor-Trainer Course at the Center of Excellence in Quantico, Va. He was recognized as “Battalion Drill Instructor of the Year” and meritoriously promoted to the rank of staff sergeant in 1999, followed by appointment to the rank of warrant officer a year later.
“As the nation continues its reliance on the men and women who stand between freedom and tyranny around the globe, Paralyzed Veterans of America stands ready to ensure that we take care of those who have lost bodily function or literally left a part of themselves on the battlefield, as well as their families and caregivers,” Gillums added.