Colton Cory and his fiancée purchased a new home in November 2013 and are excitedly anticipating their wedding in 2014. Cory, who served as a specialist with the Army National Guard in Iraq, was paralyzed in an ATV accident while on leave in 2011.
When he was a patient at the Minneapolis VAMC, Cory met Paralyzed Veterans of America service officer Jason Stephenson, who assisted him in securing his VA benefits and home health care. He began his search for jobs soon after with the help of Jim Arndt, a counselor for Operation PAVE. Cory was extremely satisfied with the counseling he received. Cory said of Arndt, “Even when he wasn’t available, he would put me in touch with the right people who could help me.”
Operation PAVE hosted adaptive sports opportunities like rugby and basketball, even organized fishing trips, so that Cory and other veterans could have some fun.
PAVE provides veterans with vocational counseling to help them find employment in order to support themselves and their families. In September 2012, Arndt helped Cory land a job at the US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) as an administrative assistant. At FWS, Cory oversees the payroll, shipments, and supplies.
In the initial stages after his accident, Cory says that some of the biggest challenges he faced were simple day-to-day tasks, such as getting dressed. Now, the adaptive technology that has been installed in his new house and car have afforded him greater independence. Moreover, Cory tries to enjoy life—spending time with friends and family or doing his favorite activity—shooting.
Currently, Cory is a peer mentor at his local VA working with veterans who had similar experiences. Cory greets patients upon starting their rehabilitation and answers any questions they may have. He is a valuable resource for other veterans in the recovery process. Cory says he thinks the other veterans are all appreciative of his input because “everyone went through it all.”
Today, his PAVE vocational counselor is still assisting Cory in his college search. When asked where he wants to study, he replied, “Jim and I are still working on it.” Cory would like to pursue a degree in civil engineering.
Learn more about Operation PAVE
Kellen Comer is majoring in International Affairs at the George Washington University.