Paralyzed Veterans of America has been on a mission to change lives and build brighter futures for seriously injured heroes. Operation PAVE is one such objective
Over his 25-year military career, 45 year-old Bryan Chaney served in logistics, recruiting, and combat training. He held six different occupational specialties and oversaw the command of various recruiting posts. Despite his lengthy tenure and various leadership positions within the Army, he couldn’t help but wonder: “How does my skill set transfer to the civilian sector?”
But Chaney wasn’t alone in his apprehension, and thanks to Paralyzed Veterans of Americas’ (PVA) Operation PAVE program, he’s not alone in finding the answer to this crucial question.
PAVING ACCESS FOR VETERANS EMPLOYMENT
While many active-duty soldiers and veterans may feel apprehensive about the transition to the civilian workforce, PVA’s vocational rehabilitation counselors devote themselves to facilitating this strenuous shift.
“Seamless transitions are made possible by people like Cristina,” Chaney says.
Cristina Mousel is Chaney’s PAVE counselor, located in the Richmond PAVE office. After an internship with the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), Chaney got in touch with Cristina, who set him on the path to employment with the organization. After serving in the U.S. Army from 1986 until his medical retirement in 2011, he was moving to the civilian workforce.
ON THE PATH TO A NEW CAREER
Despite a Veterans Affairs’ determination that rated his disability as 80-percent service-connected, Chaney struggled to obtain a Schedule A authority from the Army. The document would categorize him as a noncompetitive jobseekers, a sure path to employment at NAVSEA.
Mousel took on the task of determining that despite his disability, Chaney would not only be able to work, but would succeed.
Beginning in October 2011, Cristina remained in steady contact with Chaney to make this determination, communicating three to four times a week (he calls her determined, “like a junebug on a Twinkie”). Mousel says Chaney facilitated the process through his openness and honesty.
“I really listen and try and make sure that they’re meeting their career goals,” Mousel says. “My goal is not to get someone any job, but to get them a job that works for them and their employer.”
In December 2011, after less than three months of contact with Mousel, Chaney was hired by NAVSEA.
But before sending him on his way, Mousel wanted Chaney to explore other options. She helped him craft a federal résumé, informed him of other job openings and encouraged him to attend job fairs.
COMMITTED PARTNERS FOR LIFE
Chaney’s journey with PVA continues to this day because of the “Partner for Life” model followed by the Veterans Benefits Department, which includes the PAVE Program.
After speaking with Sherman Gillums, PVA’ executive director, Service Officer James Fischl contacted Chaney to help him navigate the VA’s thorny claims process. “James has been arbitrating for me,” says Chaney, who is appealing a dependency determination.
But his journey isn’t over yet. Having already obtained a master’s degree in marketing, Chaney is pursuing a doctorate in the same field.
“My goal is to become a professor,” he says. “Those who teach, learn.”
And when Chaney completes his doctorate and looks to transition into academia he knows that Paralyzed Veterans of America will be there to assist, ready to PAVE the way.