“When you go to some of these interviews and you roll up in your chair, you can see it in their faces, ‘Oh, man.’”
That’s how Enrique Chavez, a paraplegic veteran from Long Beach, California, described what it’s like trying to find a job as a disabled veteran to Andrew Edwards of the Press-Telegram.
Fortunately, a program called PAVE (Paving Access for Veteran Employment) is assisting severely disabled veterans like Chavez gain employment. Over the past seven years, PAVE has helped 439 of the 2,500 veterans who joined the program find jobs. “While that number might not seem scintillating at first blush,” said Sherman Gillums of the Paralyzed Veterans of America (an organization that aids U.S. vets), “we are focusing on the hardest to place: those with severe disabilities.” Gillums, himself is a Marine corps veteran who was paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident in 2002, understands the unique challenges disabled vets face.
Paralyzed Veterans of America offers the PAVE program at seven locations in the United States, and makes its services available online to any veteran who wants to participate. PAVE counselors help veterans craft a resume using their military experience that will appeal to civilian employers, figure out the paperwork they need to access their benefits, learn about the differences between military and civilian culture, and recover from their wounds and psychological trauma. PAVE also reaches out to potential employers, informing them of the tax benefits they can receive from employing a veteran.
Navy vet Mike Metal fount a job with the Volunteers of America in Santa Ana, California with the assistance of the PAVE program. He told Edwards, “I love coming to work every day.” It’s clear the Paralyzed Veterans of America won’t rest until every vet they work with can say the same.