October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month, is a time when the nation recognizes and celebrates the valuable contributions that disabled Americans make to our country’s thriving workforce. For more than 70 years, Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) has honored men and women across the nation by providing the support and resources they need to rebuild their lives after an injury or medical setback. It’s been more than a decade since Paralyzed Veterans created Paving Access for Veterans Employment (PAVE), to provide customized career assistance and vocational support to disabled veterans who are seeking employment, educational or training opportunities. Since its inception in 2007, PAVE has helped thousands of disabled veterans, their caregivers and spouses overcome the challenges, stereotypes and attitudes that threaten the path of disabled Americans in search of gainful, fulfilling career opportunities.
This month, PAVE is heightening awareness about how to eliminate employment barriers for disabled veterans and their families. While a number of successful veteran employment programs and an improving economy have helped to reduce the overall veteran unemployment and underemployment rate in recent years, there are still significant advancements needed. Millions of disabled veterans need access to careers or educational opportunities that will encourage economic self-sufficiency. Programs like PAVE are especially designed to help translate and promote the skills and training that disabled veterans bring to the workforce. PAVE’s track record of success proves that despite the challenges of managing an injury or medical diagnosis, disabled veterans are ready, willing and able to overcome barriers to employment and achieve vocational success.
Pathways to careers, education and training are essential to boost quality of life, reduce chronic health issues and improve the financial stability of disabled veterans and their families. Few would disagree that anyone who has served our country deserves every opportunity to thrive after leaving service, especially after sustaining an illness or injury as a result. October reminds us of how far we’ve come. The key is to ensure that we all continue, well after October, to pave access to these pathways that open doors of opportunities for disabled Americans to achieve their customized American Dream.