PARALYZED VETERANS OF AMERICA - Mountain States Chapter
I am a 100% service connected disabled veteran with a severe spinal disease combined with gun shot wound and reconstructive surgery issues. I was initially represented by the DAV in applying for service connection for my combat injuries and found their service and support to be a self-serv type group. They point you in the right direction but fall short at giving direct assistance. Frustrated, I sought patient advocate care through the PVA Mountain States Chapter. The representative that assisted me was much more helpful in filling out my appeal for the associated issues that accompanied my combat injuries, but the entire process took over 4 years to get 100% permanent rating. The PVA rep told me they provide life long support and care, but after my initial appointment, I ceased hearing from the PVA except for a monthly onslaught of unsolicited junk mail and a monthly magazine oddly just filled with corporate advertising. Their absentee approach didn't cause harm, after all, I am a grown man and shouldn't need an organization to hold my hand through the fog of military processes. It is nice getting any help when you are on 15-20 meds from drooling on the forms. The staff that ran the office I went to were nice people and I was impressed with their level of professionalism. Their rep that talked with me knew more then any other volunteer I had talked to and can say made a great difference on my decision to switch PVA over as my VHA patient representative.
3 years later I got a letter from a PVA 'NSO' who claimed she was my representative and the letter stated they were checking up on me and asked if I needed anything. Surprised, I called her back and told her of my compound needs and her response was - we are just checking in. Zero follow-up and no help was offered or given. Another year passed and I received the same letter. I wrote PVA back so I was clear in expressing my medical needs they said they would help with and again was ignored. Their response or lack of made me think the PVA only helps us initially to get signed up to report to congress and donors they are serving the most injured vets. They sure made me believe in their offers for assistance but I can affirm that I received no additional assistance other then a couple minutes of their time on the phone getting signed up with them and a couple more minutes of answering basic questions to get help filling out my appeal for my service connected injuries.
I recently discovered leaked sensitive what I thought to be private information I only shared with the Mountain States Chapter reps being shared with part time employees at the VA. I found it very inappropriate this info was shared, but apparently I signed away my privacy rights when I made them my VHA rep. That information being with people that had no intent of ever helping me and god knows who else made that the final straw. The PVA was fired in my case for negligence, ignoring my privacy demands, total failure to follow any issue up and for abandoning me, the veteran when I needed help the most. The PVA promised help getting me back to work, they promised help with adaptive sports for physical therapy, they promised help with my spinal disease with access to specialists, they promised help getting adaptive equipment,.. I received zero assistance with vocational therapy, zero adaptive sports involvement, zero help getting to the spinal injury specialists, zero help getting adaptive equipment, zero help in my home - I had to get my wheel chair, crutches, knee braces and adaptive devices directly from the VA on my own. The PVA is full of hot air and promises.
If there was a rating below the F they received by charitywatch and charity navigator I would say they earned well below that. They should be put out of business for fleecing donors, ignoring veterans and pretending to be govt associated using military titles and military nomenclature to fool donors, vets and Congress about their level of service. They put a couple wheelchair bound vets in pictures and a couple positions on their staff to make everyone think they are ran by vets for vets. Nothing could be further from the truth. In what world does a charitable staff need a 200k+ paycheck while offering nothing but a few minutes on the phone to veterans and a yearly party to waste more donor funds? My direct experience with the Paralyzed Veterans of America organization over 8 year period is that they are as close to frauds as you can get in what they appear to offer veterans. A person off the street that gets PVA advertising receives more financial help then veterans do, I hear they get a nickel in the mail each year. This is only my experience with one chapter, but I don't know how donors can put up with organizations that disguise charity expenses with annual trips to expensive resorts claiming to get together to benefit veterans. The PVA is a sham as my advocate. [sham] noun. 1. something that is not what it purports to be; a spurious imitation; fraud or hoax. The volunteer advocates that worked at the VA were more effective patient advocate then the PVA could ever be and they take two months to answer a response with usually a non-responsive answer that makes you scratch your head. Results can vary so greatly though from person to person, many people in the health business have no business being there. Kind of like how business has no place in charity. I couldn't find one thing that the PVA accomplished in Washington DC to justify going there, other then its a great excuse to have an executive salary with paid expenses, or be an attorney and we all know how much DC lobby attorney's are hurting for money.
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
applying for VA services over an 8 year period as a 'life-time member'
Ways to make it better...
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
Fire the entire staff and start over offering real assistance to veterans instead of filling corporate pockets. Executive staff should volunteer their time or donate their salary back into the charity. No charity should spend so little on the people they claim to help while filling their own pockets and corporate advertising agencies. The best advertising comes from satisfied veterans, not corporate sponsors. Encourage every charity to fulfill their promises or stop making them.
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I found this organization by mistake.
What, if any, change in your life has this group encouraged?
This group has caused me to lose trust for any 'non-profit' organization and fostered a deep distrust for charity and has encouraged me through their deceptive practices and false promises to never believe in people like these again. My depression and stress levels over my declining health and lack of support I thought I had have destroyed my faith in asking others for help.