Innovative Voc Rehab

PVA’s Vocational Rehabilitation Program empowers people with disabilities.

Veterans, if you are interested in a career, we can help! The Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) has relationships with more than 300 employers and connections in every branch of the federal government.

In 2007, PVA created a new kind of vocational rehabilitation program, distinguished by innovative methods that to date have helped empower more than 100 veterans with disabilities—many of them from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. PVA’s pioneering vocational rehabilitation program is designed to give veterans with spinal-cord injury/disease (SCI/D) and other disabilities the tools they need to reenter the job market and develop careers following life-altering injuries.

“Vocational rehabilitation” is generally defined as a program that provides rehab to help people enter or reenter the work force. Numerous federal, state, and local government programs and nonprofit and private programs provide similar services based on eligibility and location. Navigating these can be intimidating and discouraging to consumers, and benefits can range from full education and job-placement services to basic counseling.

In the PVA Vocational Rehabilitation Program, a multipronged approach is designed to improve the productivity and employment rates of veterans with SCI/D and other disabilities, giving them the opportunity to:

– Achieve a satisfactory quality of life that allows full participation in society

– Improve and maintain an effective level of psychosocial adjustment

– Contribute their talents to the work force

– Achieve better financial security for themselves and their families

Our expectation is that PVA will effectively evolve the rehabilitation model within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system to improve expected vocational outcomes for veterans. Our ultimate goal is to give veterans with SCI/D and other disabilities the array of cutting-edge resources and services they will need to thrive in the twenty-first-century work force.

Partnering for Success

PVA’s program is a unique public-private partnership of PVA, VA, and a growing number of corporate partners that are committed to supporting veterans with disabilities in their search for meaningful occupations and lasting careers. Thanks to the involvement of forward-thinking corporate partners who care deeply about promoting the health and well-being of paralyzed veterans, we are making significant progress toward helping them secure good jobs and launch careers.

PVA is fortunate that increasing numbers of businesses and organizations with vacant positions are realizing the many advantages of employing these dedicated men and women. By giving veterans with SCI/D and other disabilities the opportunity to put their skills and talents to work, these companies in turn are benefiting from the courage, strength, and tenacity that characterize paralyzed veterans as they strive for self-sufficiency and full reentry into society.

PVA’s Vocational Rehabilitation Program focuses on specific services to best benefit the veterans the organization serves. It has been carefully designed to raise the expectation of the vocational outcome of veterans with disabilities. The program has a three-stage approach:

Effective Outreach

The program is structured to allow counselors to take an immediate, active role in influencing expectations of veterans who are newly injured or diagnosed. As soon as possible, the veteran is approached within the initial medical rehabilitation. At the same time, family, friends, and medical professionals are informed about PVA’s vocational rehabilitation program services.

The counselors also conduct outreach to veterans who are many years postinjury and need a jump-start to begin thinking about a career. This proactive outreach helps PVA counselors gain insights about what might be appropriate vocational and career opportunities long before the veterans may be ready to consider returning to work. Armed with this information, counselors then work with veterans throughout the rehabilitation process, helping them achieve a sense of empowerment that will enable them to choose the right time to begin considering what they might want to do vocationally after rehab. The counselors help build the determination it takes to succeed in today’s competitive job market. PVA also provides lifelong comprehensive follow-up services.

Investigating and Applying Resources

The program has the flexibility to seek out all available resources to assist veterans in achieving their career goals. This may include applying and advocating for services from VA Vocational Rehabilitation Services and state Vocational Rehabilitation Services, or for support from other vocational programs. Counselors are encouraged to seek out resources from foundations, other charities, community support groups, scholarship opportunities, and corporations in order to help veterans overcome the challenges of their disabilities. PVA has been very successful identifying the resources needed to enter the career the veterans are interested in.

Creating an Employer Network

Each counselor is charged with creating an extensive network of employers. This expansive network extends to local, regional, and national employers that are cultivated with the assistance of program sponsors and the bridging networks of each office. This feature of the vocational rehabilitation program helps veterans identify career opportunities not previously considered. It must be emphasized that the PVA program focuses on quality career placements and career progression. The program has placed more than 100 veterans in positions with an average salary above $38,000 per year. Thanks to opportunities identified and brought to fruition through this networking effort, several program veterans have achieved annual salaries of more than $100,000.

New Locations

In August, PVA added its newest location, at the West Roxbury (N.Y.) Spinal Cord Injury Center. This was accomplished through the generous support from the Call Of Duty Endowment (CODE) and Bobby Kotick, CEO, Activision/Blizzard, and the great partnership PVA has with VA.

In September, PVA will open its sixth office, at the Augusta (Ga.) Spinal Cord Injury Center. This new operation could not happen without the focused efforts of the leaders at Agility Defense and Logistics Government Services in partnership with VA.   

We Can Help You!

PVA has created relationships with more than 300 employers and connections in every branch of the federal government. Veterans who want to explore going to school or finding a career may call 800-424-8200 or contact one of the offices listed below.

– Long Beach, Calif.

Paralyzed Veterans of America

Joan Haskins, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor

Long Beach VAMC, Building 150

5901 East 7th Street, Room T-102

Long Beach, CA 90822

joanh@pva.org / 562-826-8000, ext. 4607 / 498-6599 (fax)

– Minneapolis

Paralyzed Veterans of America

James Arndt, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor

#1 Veterans Drive, Room SC139

Minneapolis, MN 55417

jamesa@pva.org / 612-629-7021 / 629-7735 (fax) 

– San Antonio

Paralyzed Veterans of America

Keisha Wright, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor

Audie Murphy VAMC, SCI Ward, Room C-0008

7400 Merton Minter Boulevard

San Antonio, TX 78229

keishaw@pva.org / 210-699-5300, ext. 10148 / 949-3620 (fax)

– Richmond

Paralyzed Veterans of America

Rick Schiessler, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor

McGuire Veterans Medical Center

1201 Broad Rock Boulevard, Room 1T126

Richmond, VA 23249

ricks@pva.org / 804-675-5155 / 675-6302 (fax)

 

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