MS Committee Formed by Paralyzed Veterans of America to Address Veterans with Multiple Sclerosis
Paralyzed Veterans of America – the nation's premier nonprofit of choice for disabled veterans, their families, and caregivers – today announced the formation of a committee to represent the interests of veterans with multiple sclerosis. As the only veteran service organization specializing in helping veterans with MS, PVA created the MS Committee to act as a voice on legislative issues concerning veterans with MS, provide first-hand input from its members with MS, and serve as an expert resource for all veterans living with the disease.
One in four PVA members suffers from MS, and an estimated 18,000-20,000 veterans receive VA health care for MS each year.
"PVA has long assisted veterans who need to obtain health care and disability benefits due to multiple sclerosis," said Charles Brown, national president of Paralyzed Veterans of America.
"Our National Service Officers are experts in securing disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs that are unique to veterans with MS and are adept at navigating the VA to ensure our members get the highest quality care for their condition. Our hope with this new MS Committee is that we will increase awareness of all the needs of veterans living with this disease and become the go-to resource for those who need assistance."
PVA also partners with expert groups in the field of MS, including the National MS Society and the VA's Multiple Sclerosis Centers of Excellence. During MS Awareness Week (March 13-19), all three groups will be hosting an "Ask the Expert" webinar that will air live on YouTube on March 15, from 1-2:30 EDT. PVA member Karla Clay, a U.S. Air Force veteran, will speak about her experience living with MS and how being involved with PVA has improved her quality of life.
After experiencing periodic symptoms—tingling in her feet, vertigo—for more than a decade, an MRI diagnosed Karla with MS in 2001. She continued to work another ten years but stayed quiet about her diagnosis, only telling family and close friends because she was unsure how it would impact her career. As symptoms mounted, she ultimately had to face reality and stop working.
Upon learning she was eligible for care at the VA, she enrolled in the VA health care system. She later participated in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games – the largest adaptive sports and rehabilitation event for veterans co-hosted annually by PVA and VA. In 2015, at her first Wheelchair Games, Karla won three gold medals, a silver, and a bronze medal. Her participation led to greater physical health, and she was able to get a smaller wheelchair which helped her get through doors she previously couldn't get through due to her wheelchair size.
"Getting involved with adaptive sports and PVA changed my life. I've come out of my shell and met many great people, reaped the rewards of volunteering, gotten in shape, and learned so much—especially about myself," said Clay. "I don't really view many things as challenges; I look at them as opportunities."
To learn more about how PVA serves veterans with MS, like Karla, visit: PVA.org/ms.
About Paralyzed Veterans of America
Paralyzed Veterans of America is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and the only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely for the benefit and representation of veterans with spinal cord injury or disease like MS and ALS. For 75 years, the organization has ensured that veterans receive the benefits earned through 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 life-long partner and advocate for veterans and all people with disabilities, Paralyzed Veterans of America also develops training and career services, works to ensure accessibility in public buildings and spaces, and provides health and rehabilitation opportunities through sports and recreation. With more than 70 offices and 33 chapters, Paralyzed Veterans of America serves veterans, their families, and their caregivers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Learn more at PVA.org.