Reasons & Remarks: PVA Convention Goes Virtual

For the first time in PVA’s history, the 74th Annual Convention was conducted remotely

By Tom Fjerstad

The Paralyzed Veterans of America’s (PVA) 74th Annual Convention took place May 26–29, and for the first time in the organization’s history, this meeting wasn’t held in a face-to-face format at a physical location. 

Safety concerns for the PVA Board of Directors, along with travel and other restrictions being imposed because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, forced the organization to hold this essential meeting in a virtual format via Zoom video conference.

The Zoom meeting platform was used to conduct basic essential business, but it did present limitations in comparison with what has been the customary and normal personal interaction.

Staring at a computer screen for hours on end in a video conference certainly allows decisions to be made, resolutions to be debated and voted upon, and important information to be disseminated.

However, what I, and I know others missed, was the opportunity to lean over and ask the person sitting next to you, “What do you think of that?” A virtual convention also doesn’t allow for the incredible amount of business that’s accomplished outside of the formal meeting. Discussions in the hallways or over dinner are truly where the bulk of decision-making has traditionally taken place.

With all that being said, the PVA Executive Committee and members of our national staff delivered enlightening updates. I was particularly struck by our communications department’s ingenuity in getting the word out about the unique challenges and dangers faced by the PVA membership during this pandemic.


The first order of business to be tackled by the board was the adoption of special rules of order to ensure fair and reasonable processes for everything from voting to what to do if you are disconnected from the meeting for some unforeseen reason. Once the ground rules were in place, it was off to the races.

Seven resolutions were formally submitted for consideration during the convention, with the following five of them passing:

20-M-1 Spouses/Caregivers Committee

Submitted by the PVA Executive Committee

This resolution expanded the eligibility of membership on the committee to include caregivers of chapter board members.

20-M-2 – Volunteer Award Presentation Changes

Submitted by the PVA Executive Committee

This resolution amended the Dwain Taylor Award for Voluntary Service in regard to the presentation of the award. Repeat recipients of the award who were presented their plaque in person at a previous PVA Annual Convention will now be presented the award by the chapter president or a national vice president at a chapter meeting or event.

20-M-4 – Clarifying Chapter Audit Submission Verbiage

Submitted by the PVA Executive Committee

This resolution amended the chapter reporting requirements to provide clarity on document specifics and the manner of submission to the chief financial officer.

20-M-5 – Chapter Newsletters/Quarterly Reports

Submitted by the PVA Executive Committee

This resolution amended the delivery requirements for chapter newsletters.

20-M-7(S) – Chapter Sports Grants

Submitted by the PVA Gateway Chapter

This resolution amended the criteria for chapters to receive sports and recreation grants.


The election of PVA national officers is always a highlight of our annual convention and is usually the culmination of a week of politicking in the host hotel and surrounding restaurants.

The politicking surely took place, but it also had to adapt to a new and different approach.

The newly elected Paralyzed Veterans of America Executive Committee is, top row, from left, National President David Zurfluh, National Senior Vice President Charles Brown, National Vice President Hack Albertson; middle row, from left, National Vice President Robert Thomas, National Vice President Tammy Jones, National Vice President Kenneth Ness; and bottom row, from left, National Secretary Marcus Murray, National Treasurer Tom Wheaton and Immediate Past President Al Kovach Jr. (Photo by Tom Fjerstad).


The votes were cast into the virtual abyss and when the bytes settled, the results were:

  • President: David Zurfluh was re- elected to a fourth term
  • Senior Vice President: Charles Brown
  • Vice Presidents: Hack Albertson, Robert Thomas, Tammy Jones, and Kenneth Ness
  • Treasurer: Tom Wheaton
  • Secretary: Marcus Murray 

Congratulations to all and as editor, I look forward to working with each of you in the coming year.

At the close of the meeting, PVA Secretary Marcus Murray made the motion that we, the Board of Directors of PVA, direct the PN editor to publish in a conspicuous place at an appropriate time the following:

“With sincere appreciation and gratitude of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, to the ladies and the friends of PVA, without whose help and support we could not have accomplished all we have this week.”


One really big piece of business that the board decided was too much to handle in this virtual convention was the budget.

The board opted to steal a trick from Congress and passed a continuing resolution of sorts to postpone this hugely important task until they could meet face-to-face later this fall in Orlando, Fla.

Next Year

Next year’s convention will be the 75th and is scheduled for May 18–22 at the iconic Golden Nugget Hotel in Las Vegas.

I hope by then the only thing virtual about the convention will be in the casino gaming area.


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