Paralyzed Veterans of America Leaders
Since our founding, generation after generation of Paralyzed Veterans of America's leaders have worked to improve the quality of life for veterans and all people living with spinal cord injury and disease. Listed below is Paralyzed Veterans of America’s Executive Director and Executive Committee for 2013-14. All members of the executive committee are members of Paralyzed Veterans and were elected by Paralyzed Veterans' membership.
Bill Lawson of Woodward, OK, was reelected for a fourth term as national president of Paralyzed Veterans of America, during its 67th Annual Convention in August. He is a Paralyzed Veterans’ life member.
Previously, Lawson served as national senior vice president from October 2009–October 2010, and had served as a national vice president for Paralyzed Veterans since 2006 and had held terms previously from 1995 to 2000. Lawson chaired the Field Advisory Committee from 1996 through 2000 and was reappointed by Paralyzed Veterans’ National President Randy L. Pleva Sr. to this position in 2006. As chairman, his primary responsibility was that of “watchdog” of the numerous spinal cord injury facilities across the United States. He also previously served as chairman of a Paralyzed Veterans’ ad hoc committee on multiple sclerosis (MS). This committee is charged with reorganizing a system of care for MS veterans using the Department of Veterans Affairs health-care system. Although active in advocacy and legislation issues, Lawson’s first priority as president has always been that of improving health care for all veterans, especially those with spinal cord injury or dysfunction.
A native Oklahoman, Lawson was honored with the Advocate of the Year award by the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services in April 2011, for his work on behalf of all people with disabilities. He has held various key positions in the Paralyzed Veterans’ Mid-America Chapter, and has also served as a panelist on the Oklahoma Veterans Council in Oklahoma City, which is composed of numerous veterans service groups within the state. He was also appointed to serve as a representative on a health-care task force developed by Oklahoma lawmakers. Lawson is a founding member of the Disabled American Veterans chapter in northwest Oklahoma, where he served as its commander for three years.
While serving in the U.S. Army, Lawson was stationed at various bases throughout the United States, Germany and Japan. He enlisted in 1968 and was honorably discharged in 1979 after 11 years of service to his country. He and his wife, Linda, currently reside in Woodward, OK.
Lawson took office with the other members of Paralyzed Veterans’ Executive Committee on October 1, 2013, for one year.
Homer S. Townsend, Jr., began serving as Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) Acting Executive Director in July 2007. He was selected as PVA’s Executive Director in March of 2008. In March 2006, Townsend was awarded PVA’s Speedy Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Paralyzed Veterans of America, in recognition of his significant contributions to improving the lives of America’s paralyzed veterans.
Previously, Townsend served as PVA Immediate Past President from October 2000 through September 2004. He served as PVA National President for two years from October 1998 through September 2000. Townsend also served as PVA Senior Vice President for two years and National Vice President for four years. He has served on numerous national PVA committees, including serving as chair of both the PVA Long Range Planning Committee and the PVA Field Advisory Committee.
Originally from Woodland, Maine, Townsend left to join the Marine Corps. He moved to Mesa, Arizona, after being medically retired after serving five and a half years. Townsend served as an aircraft electrician where he was retired as a staff sergeant. He worked on F-4 Phantoms, A-4 Skyhawks, A-6 Intruders and AV-8A Harriers.
Townsend has served at every capacity on the chapter level except that of secretary and treasurer. During his tenure as chapter executive vice president, he was responsible for bringing the Access to the Skies Conference out of Washington, DC, to Phoenix, AZ, where it grew from 40 attendees to over 200 - half being from the disabled community.
In addition to his PVA responsibilities, Townsend has also served as a member of the President’s Committee on Employment of Persons with Disabilities, the Arizona Governor’s Committee on Employment of Persons with Disabilities (1992-1996), and the Mesa Mayor’s Committee on Handicap Awareness (6 years), which he chaired for two years. He was presented the key to the city by the mayor for his dedicated service. Appointed by the governor, he has recently completed a four-year term as a commissioner on the Arizona Veteran Service Commission.
Townsend currently resides in Arlington, Virginia, while serving as PVA Executive Director. His permanent residence is Mesa, Arizona, where he is an entrepreneur. Townsend has a son, Dale, daughter-in-law, Melissa, and three grandchildren, Atticus, Hazel and Edith.
Al Kovach, Jr., of Coronado, CA, was reelected national senior vice president of Paralyzed Veterans of America for a third term during its 67th Annual Convention in August.
Kovach previously served as national vice president of Paralyzed Veterans and currently serves as the Cal-Diego Chapter immediate past president. He joined the chapter as its government relations director and has served on its board of directors since 1991.
A native of Philadelphia, Kovach attended Indiana University before joining the military as a U.S. Navy SEAL. He and his wife, Magaly, reside in Coronado, CA.
Kovach took office with the other members of Paralyzed Veterans’ Executive Committee on October 1, 2013.
Tamara Lawter, a native of Nebraska, was elected national vice president of Paralyzed Veterans of America, during its 67th Annual Convention in August.
Lawter has served as National Director for Paralyzed Veterans’ Great Plains Chapter since 2008 and has been the Chapter’s hospital liaison officer for several years, where her main focus has been to actively seek out new Paralyzed Veterans’ members for the Chapter.
Lawter grew up in Kearney, Nebraska and attended Kearney State College for two years before joining the U.S. Army. She spent two years in the Army stationed at Ft. Stewart, Georgia in the 23rd Replacement Detachment. After her two years on active duty was up, Lawter joined the South Carolina National Guard, 228th Signal Brigade, in Spartanburg, South Carolina. While in the National Guard she attended the University of South Carolina at Spartanburg and earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, with an emphasis in Math, Political Science, Psychology, and Business Administration. Lawter then returned to active duty as a Medical Service Officer and was stationed at Ft. Stewart, Georgia from December 1992 to January 1995. She was injured February 1994 and was medically retired.
Lawter is an active member of her church and volunteers as a Special Olympics swim coach. She is active in adaptive sports and participates each year in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games. She currently resides in Kearney where she is raising her two sons.
Lawter took office with the other members of Paralyzed Veterans’ Executive Committee on October 1, 2013.
David Fowler, a native of Texas, was reelected national vice president of Paralyzed Veterans of America, during its 67th Annual Convention in August.
Fowler worked in the construction field for several years after high school before joining the Army in 1983, where he immediately went into the 82nd Airborne Division. In 1984 he suffered a C4–5 spinal cord injury (SCI) that left him paralyzed from his shoulders down.
Fowler joined the Texas Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America in 1985. In 1988 he began helping other spinal cord injured veterans with quality of life issues by serving as a "Peer Partner" through a Department of Veterans Affairs program. He also volunteers in the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston, helping counsel individuals with new injuries.
In 1991 he became actively involved in the Texas Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America (TPVA) in many capacities, including service as advocacy director, vice president, president and national director. Fowler has also served on several committees for Paralyzed Veterans of America, including the Field Advisory Committee. Over the years he has been an ardent leader for the organization.
In addition, he is currently a member of the Disabled American Veterans, the 82nd Airborne Association, the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities and United/Continental Accessible Travel Advisory Board.
Fowler has been involved in his local community by serving on the Houston Commission on Disabilities and other committees that had input regarding accessibility in the local stadiums and the Metrorail transit system.
He currently resides in Katy, Texas and is married. In his spare time he participates in adaptive sports such as skiing, power wheelchair soccer, hunting and fishing.
Fowler took office with the other members of Paralyzed Veterans’ Executive Committee on October 1, 2013.
David Zurfluh, a native of Washington, was reelected national vice president of Paralyzed Veterans of America, during its 67th Annual Convention in August.
The youngest of seven children, Zurfluh born and raised in Tacoma, WA, where he currently resides. Zurfluh served in the Air Force from 1987 to 1995. He comes from a military family: his father served in the Army in the General MacArthur Honor Guard; his grandfather served in the Navy during World War II; and a brother served in the Air Force.
Zurfluh was a jet engine mechanic and served as a crew chief in Operations Desert Shield/Storm. He was injured in 1995 in a motor vehicle accident while on active duty in Hachinohe, Japan. Zurfluh suffered a shattered left arm, broken left wrist and a broken neck. He was diagnosed with incomplete quadriplegia and spent one year as an inpatient and two years as an outpatient in Seattle’s VA SCI Unit.
Zurfluh joined Paralyzed Veterans of America in 1995 and has been active since 2003 with the Northwest Chapter. He has held chapter level positions as legislative director, vice president, president and member of the sports committee. He also serves on the Veterans Legislative Coalition in Olympia, WA, and is cochair of the West Slope Neighborhood Coalition.
In addition to his work on behalf of Paralyzed Veterans, he is a lector at Holy Rosary Church and volunteers at local food banks. His hobbies include sports, including handcycling; shooting sports (trap, handgun and archery); golf; and snow sports, and he enjoys Japanese history and gardening.
Zurfluh took office with the other members of Paralyzed Veterans’ Executive Committee on October 1, 2013.
Charles Brown, a native of Missouri, was reelected national vice president of Paralyzed Veterans of America, during its 67th Annual Convention in August.
Brown joined the Marines in 1985 where he was trained in aviation ordinance. He sustained a spinal cord injury as a result of a diving accident in 1986 while serving in Cherry Point, NC.
During his initial rehabilitation at the Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Center in Augusta, GA, Brown became a member of the Southeaster Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America. In 1997, he moved back to Missouri where he served on the Gateway Chapter board in a multitude of capacities including ADA coordinator, advocacy director, treasurer and vice president.
While in St. Louis he also helped establish the Rolling Rams quad-rugby team. Seeking a more wheelchair-friendly climate, Brown relocated and joined the Florida Chapter in 1999. He served the chapter in a number of positions including hospital committee chair, secretary, hospital liaison, national director and as president. Brown has also served on numerous national committees including strategic planning, planned giving and the resolution committee. Currently on the USA Boccia team, he was selected team captain for the Para-pan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. Ranked 63rd in the world after 1 international tournament, he fully believes an active life has kept him healthy. Brown currently resides in Loxahatchee, FL.
Brown took office with the other members of Paralyzed Veterans’ Executive Committee on October 1, 2013.
CRAIG F. ENENBACH
Craig F. Enenbach of Omaha, NE, was reelected national treasurer of Paralyzed Veterans of America, during its 67th Annual Convention in August. This will be Enenbach’s 10th term as national treasurer.
A nine-year U.S. Air Force veteran, Enenbach served with the 15th Reconnaissance Technical Squadron at March Air Force Base (AFB) in California and was then stationed at the headquarters of the Strategic Air Command at Offutt AFB in Nebraska. He has been a service-connected veteran since his discharge in 1976.
Enenbach joined Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company in 1976 and held several managerial positions, retiring in 2005. Beginning on May 1, 2006, he worked at the Omaha VA Nebraska Western-Iowa Health Care System and was the coordinator of the local organizing committee for the 2008 National Veterans Wheelchair Games. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Married to the former Pat O’Reilly on June 8, 1968, at March AFB, the couple has three grown children: Mathew Enenbach, a U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel; Anne Ramos, a U.S. Air Force technical sergeant; and Brian Enenbach, an airline captain with Continental ExpressJet.
Enenbach took office with the other members of Paralyzed Veterans’ Executive Committee on October 1, 2013.
Larry Dodson, a native of Oklahoma, was reelected national secretary of Paralyzed Veterans of America during its 67th Annual Convention in August.
Dodson grew up in Oklahoma before relocating to North Carolina where he graduated from high school. He joined the Air Force in 1966 and served until 1970. During that time he worked in a command center in Southeast Asia. After his time in the service Dodson worked for the Photo Corporation of America from 1973-1984. On July 4th 1974 Dodson incurred a C-4 spinal cord injury.
Dodson attended Fresno State University before transferring to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where he graduated with a degree in accounting in 1981. After college he owned and operated his own accounting business from 1984-1999. During his first visit to the SCI Center in Augusta, GA, he joined the Southeastern Chapter of PVA in 1994. For more than 20 years Dodson did not know he was entitled to VA benefits. A Paralyzed Veterans’ National Service Officer candidate from 1999-2000 he became a member of the Southeastern Chapter board of directors in 2004. His service with the chapter includes assistant chair for the hospital committee, vice president, and national director.
Dodson resides in North Augusta, SC, with his wife Debra. He has two adult daughters and six grandsons, one who just completed his service in the Air Force and one who just joined the Marines.
Dodson took office with the other members of Paralyzed Veterans’ Executive Committee on October 1, 2013.
Gene A. Crayton, a native of Illinois, became immediate past president of Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) at its 64th Annual Convention in Providence, RI, in August. Crayton is a former United States Navy corpsman who served with the 26th Marines in Khe Sanh during the Tet Offensive. He was the first African-American to be elected to Paralyzed Veterans’ highest office.
Previously, Crayton served one year as president, five years as vice president and three years as senior vice president, being first elected at the 54th Annual Convention in Minneapolis on August 5, 2000. He joined Paralyzed Veterans’ Gateway Chapter in 1983 and later became the chapter’s secretary, president and national director.
Crayton enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserves in 1965 during his junior year in high school. Following graduation, he entered active duty and attended Hospital Corps School at the U.S. Naval Hospital in San Diego followed by field training at Camp Pendleton. He was then assigned to the 26th Marines and shipped to Vietnam. His unit was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. After leaving active duty, he moved to St. Louis, where he was assigned to the local Marine Corps Reserve Unit. On April 6, 1969, an automobile accident left Crayton a paraplegic. In November 1970, he was honorably discharged from the Navy.
Crayton’s keen interest in making housing and transportation accessible for people with disabilities guided him toward initiatives to advance those goals. As the chapter’s housing chairman, Crayton secured a sponsor for an accessible housing project, and in 1992, 40 accessible units in St. Louis opened as Gateway Accessible Housing I. Gateway II and III followed, offering 76 accessible units.
As vice chair of the BiState Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Committee, Crayton addressed the issues associated with accessibility in public transportation. He also worked on the Para Transit Committee seeking to help people with disabilities who cannot reach an accessible bus route. He also served on the Housing and Urban Development ADA Committee, whose goal is to ensure accessible housing opportunities for members of the disability community.
Crayton and his wife Rosa reside in St. Louis.