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Paralyzed Veterans aids those with spinal cord disabilities

There are many organizations that help veterans, and sometimes they overlap. In fact, there is often much overlap, but each major group does have a positive specialty of some type, such as Paralyzed Veterans of America, Nevada Chapter.

As with most veterans groups, one of the first rules of order is to assist their members in filing for any benefits they may be entitled to. The president of the local chapter, Dan Kaminski, is proud to point out that the top priority of the PVA is to help the nation’s veterans who face a lifetime of tough new challenges adjust to life with severe disabilities.

“We take care of the spinal cord injured and spinal cord dysfunctional veterans. And we take care of those with MS (multiple sclerosis), and ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and quite a few different things. We try to make their lives as best as possible, and take them through the VA (Veterans Affairs) system and see that they are getting all their benefits,” Kaminiski said.

The group is centered in Southern Nevada but also reaches in the northern portion of the state, southern Utah and northern Arizona. “Statewide we have over 175 members, and associate members vary at about 100.”

As with most community-supported groups, earning charitable funds is always on the menu. On April 22 at Bunker Park on West Alexander Road in Las Vegas, the PVA will hold its annual “Walk, Run and Roll” 5K run or a 1k fun-walk event, which is open to the public.

“You got your runners, you got your people who wanna walk, and we also have people in wheelchairs,” Kaminski said. And he is quick to point out that walkers and runners have nothing to fear. “The wheelchair folks won’t run you over,” he claims with a smile. Detailed information is available at http://nevadapva.org.

Kaminski is a Navy veteran, and received his injury in a motorcycle accident while in the service in Florida. He had served just over eight years, and planned on making it a career.

“I got the wheelchair instead of the Navy career,” he said.

But how he became involved with the PVA is a notable case. It illustrates that any veteran who is afflicted with a spinal cord injury, whether it was caused during combat or through other situations, even if it occurs after military service, is generally eligible to join the organization. That information is driven home by the group’s Executive Director Sherman Gillums Jr. in a published statement: “We are dedicated to ensuring that veterans who have suffered life-altering spinal cord injuries or diseases have the support and services they need to lead full and productive lives.”

There are at least two other charitable events the PVA makes available to the public, one on a one-off basis, and one on an ongoing basis. First, there is a raffle that includes a prize of March NASCAR tickets. The other is aimed at anyone who is seeking a new vehicle.

The organization has a preowned vehicle lot at 4000 Boulder Highway, Las Vegas, near U.S. Highway 95. It’s also a place where individuals can donate vehicles for a tax credit.

In addition to selling and taking in automobiles, the PVA, on occasion, sells airplanes. Kaminski said that they recently had two aircrafts for sale, and one individual purchased both of them. So if readers need to or fly or drive, the PVA can be reached at 702-646-0040.

Chuck N. Baker is a Purple Heart veteran of the Vietnam War and the host of “That’s America to Me” every Sunday at 7 a.m. on 97.1-FM.

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