FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 17, 2011
Lani Poblete 202-416-7667
Graduate of Paralyzed Veterans’ Program to Help Vets Secure Good Careers Becomes Acting Head of Veterans Benefits Department
WASHINGTON, DC — Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) is pleased to announce Sherman Gillums Jr. as acting associate executive director of its Veterans Benefits Department. Gillums first became involved with Paralyzed Veterans through its innovative Vocational Rehabilitation Program, which empowers veterans with the tools they need to get good jobs. Gillums’ career has come full circle, as he now heads the department that helped him reenter the job market post injury.
Gillums, a paralyzed veteran, began his career with Paralyzed Veterans as a national service officer in San Diego, where he developed VA benefits claims and clinical appeals for veterans and families in the area. He later became involved with the local Paralyzed Veterans chapter, and went on to become the chapter’s president. He also served on Paralyzed Veterans of America’s National Field Advisory Committee. After earning a master’s degree in global leadership from the University of San Diego, he returned to the VA benefits claims arena as a Paralyzed Veterans appellate representative at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals in Washington, DC, before accepting the position as acting associate executive director of veterans benefits.
“My goal is to redefine veteran advocacy for those whom we represent,” Gillums said. “To take this department from a parochial focus on VA benefits to one where we help our members and clients achieve total self-actualization in three ways: sound health through effective VA medical care, safety and security through the monetary and ancillary benefits they’ve earned by virtue of service and a sense of self worth and achievement through gainful employment regardless of impairment.”
Gillums began his military career in the Marine Corps when he enlisted at the age of 17 and quickly ascended into leadership, retiring as a chief warrant officer. Four months after the September 11, 2001, attacks, as he prepared to deploy to Afghanistan with the 1st Marine Division, Gillums was involved in a three-vehicle collision and became severely disabled. Despite wearing a seatbelt and driving safely, he sustained a cervical spine injury that paralyzed him and ended his military career at age 29. Following the accident, Gillums received an honorable discharge from military service and went on to pursue a new career in disabled veteran advocacy.
During his short but successful military career, he earned two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, one Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and a War on Terror Service Medal.
“Paralyzed Veterans of America provided me with a lifeline after I suffered injury in 2002, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to provide lifelines to the men and women—the veterans of this country and their families—who entrust us with their lives and well being,” Gillums added.
Paralyzed Veterans of America was founded by a band of spinal cord injured service members who returned home from World War II to a grateful nation, but also to a world with few solutions to the challenges they faced. These veterans from the “Greatest Generation” made a decision not just to live, but to live with dignity as contributors to society. They created an organization, dedicated to veterans’ service, medical research and civil rights for people with disabilities. And for more than six decades, Paralyzed Veterans of America and its 34 chapters have been working to create an America where all veterans, and people with disabilities, and their families, have everything they need to thrive. The organization will celebrate its 65th birthday in April. (www.pva.org).