Leading the way to a better tomorrow.

Since our founding, the Paralyzed Veterans of America Leadership Team has worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life for veterans and all people living with spinal cord injury and disease
Every person on our Executive Committee is a member of Paralyzed Veterans of America and was elected by our membership community. Learn more about our dedicated leadership team:



David Zurfluh was elected Paralyzed Veterans of America’s (Paralyzed Veterans) National President at its 71st Annual Convention in May 2017, and took office July 1, 2017. 

Immediately prior to becoming president, Zurfluh had served as National Senior Vice President since May 2015. A member of the Air Force from 1987 to 1995, Zurfluh served as a jet engine mechanic and a crew chief in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. He was injured in 1995 in a motor vehicle accident while on active duty in Hachinohe, Japan, suffering a shattered left arm, broken left wrist and a broken neck. He was diagnosed with incomplete quadriplegia spending one year as an inpatient, and two years as an outpatient in Seattle VA spinal cord injury unit. 

Zurfluh joined Paralyzed Veterans in 1995. He 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. Zurfluh currently serves on the National Board of Advisors of the Museum of Aviation Foundation. A native of Washington, he presently serves on the Veterans Legislative Coalition in Olympia, WA, and served as co-chair of the West Slope Neighborhood Coalition in Tacoma, WA.

In addition to his work on behalf of Paralyzed Veterans, Zurfluh is a lector at Holy Rosary Church and volunteers at local food banks. His hobbies include handcycling, shooting sports (trap, handgun, and archery), golf and snow sports. President Zurfluh divides his time between Tacoma, Washington and Washington, DC. 



Carl Blake was raised in Woodford, Virginia.  He graduated the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York in 1998, with a Bachelor of Science Degree.
Upon graduation from West Point, Blake was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Infantry in the United States Army.  He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (1st Brigade) of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.  He graduated from Infantry Officer Basic Course, U.S. Army Ranger School, U.S. Army Airborne School, and Air Assault School.  His awards include the Army Commendation Medal, Expert Infantryman’s Badge, and German Parachutist Badge.  Carl retired from the military in October 2000 due to injuries suffered during a parachute training exercise.

Blake is a member of the Paralyzed Veterans Mid-Atlantic Chapter in Virginia. He lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia with his wife Venus, son Jonathan and daughter Brooke.



Medically-retired Army Sergeant Shaun Castle is an accomplished college and professional wheelchair basketball player, and outspoken advocate for Paralyzed Veterans of America. Born in Elmira, N.Y. Castle enlisted in the Army in 2000. A military police officer with the U.S. Army stationed in Heidelberg, Germany, Castle served deployments to Kosovo, Macedonia and missions in support of the Global War on Terrorism. In 2002, he served as a protective services guard to two four-star Generals—Gen. Burwell B. Bell III and Gen. Montgomery Cunningham Meigs. 
In 2003, Castle was injured during a training exercise in Heidelberg in which he suffered three herniated discs and two cracked vertebrae. While a lengthy prosthetics surgery enabled him to walk again and return to private sector police work, the weight of his duty belt over time caused further damage to his spinal cord. Not only was a second surgery unsuccessful, Castle learned while undergoing treatment at the VA medical center in Birmingham, Alabama, that he had a life-threatening allergy to all pain medications and muscle relaxers, a complication that nearly took his life and forced him to resort to natural methods of pain management. 
In 2012, Castle embraced the healing power of adaptive sports. He began training six days per week became a team member for the University of Alabama’s men’s wheelchair basketball team. Castle went on to play professional wheelchair basketball in Lyon, France.
Castle also pursued a degree in Communications with an emphasis in Organizational Leadership, graduating summa cum laude from the University of Alabama in 2017. He intends to next pursue a master’s degree in Global Business Management.  
In 2016, Castle pioneered the construction of an arena dedicated solely to wheelchair basketball at the University of Alabama.  He was later honored by the college for an award recognizing his contributions to veterans, adapted athletes and the disabled student body on campus.

In 2018 Castle was appointed to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs Committee on Prosthetics and Special Disabilities.



Ken Weas was elected as senior vice president of Paralyzed Veterans of America during its 71st Annual Convention in May 2017. He previously served three consecutive terms as national vice president, beginning in 2002.

During a 14-year career (1978–1992) in the U.S. Air Force — assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency — Weas sustained a spinal cord injury in an automobile accident while serving in the U.S. Defense Attaché Office at the American Embassy in Bern, Switzerland.

Weas joined the Central Florida Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans in 1995. While there he served as vice president and hospital liaison program director until 2000, when he moved to Phoenix. As a member of the Arizona chapter, he served as its hospital liaison program director. In 2006 he returned to Florida and rejoined the Central Florida Chapter, reassuming the position of hospital liaison program and outreach director and also serving as a national director.

Weas has also been a member of several national Paralyzed Veterans’ committees that monitor the quality of healthcare delivered to Paralyzed Veterans’ members and all veterans. In addition, he served as chairman of the Field Advisory Council under the presidencies of Joseph L. Fox, Sr., Randy L. Pleva, Sr., and Bill Lawson. 

In 2008, the surgeon general of Florida appointed Weas to the Florida Department of Health, Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Advisory Council, which provides oversight for the state’s healthcare services for individuals with spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury. Weas continues today to energetically advocate for better quality of life for individuals with a disability.

A native of Alabama, Weas holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Rollins University. He and his wife, Sue, currently reside in Clermont, FL. They have raised four children, Kristen, Justin, Megan and Kaitlyn, and now enjoy 5 grandsons (“cowboys”).

Weas took office with the other members of Paralyzed Veterans’ Executive Committee on July 1, 2017, for a one-year term.



James Thomas (Tom) Wheaton, Jr., was re-elected national treasurer of Paralyzed Veterans of America during its 71st Annual Convention in May 2017.

Wheaton enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1986 and is a plank owner (original crew member) of the USS Fort McHenry. He sustained a spinal cord injury while serving in Perth, Australia, in 1988. After recovering from his injuries and undergoing expanded rehabilitation, he was part of a group of veterans who ultimately organized into what became the Minnesota Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America in 1993.

As the chapter’s first director of sports and recreation, Wheaton coordinated a number of new activities for paralyzed veterans and the disabled community throughout Minnesota. He also served as chapter treasurer.

After moving to Golden, CO, in 1996, Wheaton served on a regional basis as sports director, treasurer, hospital liaison, and executive director of the Mountain States Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans. He founded both the Colorado Rockies Wheelchair Softball League and the Colorado Avalanche Sled Hockey team and coordinated the National Wheelchair Softball Tournament held at Coors Field in Denver in 1998. Wheaton also served as first vice president of the United Veterans Committee of Colorado.

From 1999–2003, Wheaton served on the Paralyzed Veterans’ Executive Committee and was elected as vice president for two years and also as senior vice president. Since 2006 he has served as the organization’s parliamentarian, assisting a number of national presidents to fairly and effectively facilitate meetings of the board of directors. Since 2008, he has also been a member of Paralyzed Veterans’ Finance Committee.

In addition to his numerous Paralyzed Veterans responsibilities over the past 20 years, Wheaton has served on various national veterans and disability advisory committees, including the National Spinal Cord Injury Association. Within his community he is an elder of Hillside Community Church and co-leads its children’s ministries with his wife, Angela. He is also currently the PTA treasurer for his childrens’ elementary school. The Wheatons have been married for 13 years and are proud parents of two school-age children, William and Mia. They reside in Golden, CO.

Born and raised in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota, Wheaton took office with the other members of Paralyzed Veterans’ Executive Committee on July 1, 2017, for a one-year term.




Larry Dodson was re-elected national secretary of Paralyzed Veterans of America during its 71st Annual Convention in May 2017.

Dodson joined the Air Force in 1966 and served until 1970. During that time he worked in a command center in Southeast Asia. On July 4, 1974, Dodson incurred a C-4 spinal cord injury and for more than 20 years he did not know that he was entitled to benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

After his military service, Dodson worked for the Photo Corporation of America from 1973–1984. During that time he 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 until 1999.

During his first visit to the spinal cord injury center in Augusta, GA, in 1994, Dodson joined the Southeastern Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans. A Paralyzed Veterans national service officer candidate from 1999–2000, Dodson 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. 

A native of Oklahoma, Dodson currently resides in North Augusta, SC, with his wife, Debra. He has two adult daughters. He took office with the other members of Paralyzed Veterans’ Executive Committee on July 1, 2017, for a one-year term.



Joseph (Joe) L. Fox, Sr., was re-elected national vice president of Paralyzed Veterans of America during its 71st Annual Convention in May 2017.

Fox joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1966 and served with the 1st Battalion 26th Marines. He was wounded on May 8, 1968, while serving in Vietnam during an operation in the province of Quảng Trị outside of Đông Hà. He received the Purple Heart in 1969 and was honorably discharged at the rank of Sergeant E-5.

Fox previously served four terms as national president of Paralyzed Veterans from 2000–2004. Throughout the years he has served in many elected positions within the organization, including the California Chapter in Long Beach as president, secretary, national director, and membership officer. Fox also served as a national service officer, helping veterans obtain their benefits.

Fox took office with the other members of Paralyzed Veterans’ Executive Committee on July 1, 2017, for a one-year term.



Brown was re-elected national vice president of Paralyzed Veterans of America during its 71st Annual Convention in May 2017. 

Charles Brown joined the Marines in 1985 and was trained in aviation ordnance. In 1986, he sustained a spinal cord injury as a result of a diving accident while serving in Cherry Point, NC.

During his initial rehabilitation at the Department of Veterans Affairs spinal cord injury center in Augusta, GA, Brown became a member of the Southeastern Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans. In 1987, he moved back to his native Missouri where he served on the Gateway Chapter board in a multitude of capacities, including Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator, advocacy director, treasurer, and vice president.

While in St. Louis, Brown helped establish the Rolling Rams quad rugby team. Seeking a more wheelchair-friendly climate, Brown relocated and joined the Florida Chapter in 1999. In Florida he served in a number of positions, including hospital committee chair, secretary, hospital liaison, national director, and president. Brown has also served on numerous national committees, including strategic planning, planned giving, and resolution.

Currently on the USA Boccia team, he was selected team captain for the Parapan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. Ranked 63rd in the world after one international tournament, Brown fully believes that an active life has kept him healthy. Brown currently resides in Loxahatchee, FL.




Hack Albertson was re-elected national vice president of Paralyzed Veterans of America during its 71st Annual Convention in May 2017.

Albertson served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1981 to 1985 as a weather observer and assistant forecaster attached to Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 31 in Beaufort, SC. He sustained a T-7 complete spinal cord injury in 1994. Albertson has served several years on the Kentucky-Indiana (KIPVA) Paralyzed Veterans Chapter Board of Directors. He has also served as chapter vice president, chapter treasurer, hospital liaison officer and national director.

Albertson is on the board of the National Wild Turkey Federation and Lifewaters.org, where he currently holds the position of office treasurer. He is also a member of the Paralyzed and Disabled Scuba Diving Organization. He is very active in outdoor sports, including handcycling, hunting, scuba diving, fishing, shooting, archery and softball. He has received 22 medals from the National Veterans Wheelchair Games (#NVWG) over the five years he has participated.

Albertson and his wife, Jill, currently reside in Campbellsburg, IN, where he is a member of the local First Baptist Church. They have four children, with one daughter currently serving on active duty as a LTJG U.S. Navy nurse.

Albertson took office with the other members of Paralyzed Veterans’ Executive Committee July 1, 2017, for a one-year term.



Robert L. Thomas, Jr. was elected Paralyzed Veterans of America National Vice President in May 2017.

Thomas enlisted in the U.S. Army shortly after graduating high school in 1987.  He served as a Power Generation Equipment specialist at Fort Sill Oklahoma, Camp Humphreys Korea and Fort Bragg NC, until a diving accident crushed his fifth and sixth vertebrae in 1991. He was introduced to Paralyzed Veterans through the Cleveland VA, and began volunteering with its Buckeye Chapter (OH) in 1996. He took a few years off to earn his associate's degree in Information Technology, and returned to the Buckeye Chapter board in 2010. He has served as the Chapter's Vice President since 2012, and as the chapter's representatives on the national Field Advisory Committee and the Resolution Committee.

In addition to his role as national vice president, Thomas currently serves as the chair of the caregivers committee, the awards program committee and is the national parliamentarian.

He and his wife, LaShon, live in Macedonia, Ohio.



Al Kovach, Jr., of Coronado, CA, served as national president of Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) from July 2014 until June 2017. 
A member of the elite U.S. Navy SEALs, Kovach was paralyzed in a parachuting accident during a combat training exercise in 1991. Kovach has served at the highest levels of leadership within Paralyzed Veterans since 2007. He began service to the organization in 1991, at the chapter level as government relations director for the Cal-Diego Chapter in San Diego, and has since served on its board of directors.
In his role as national president, Kovach has delivered testimony before the U.S. House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees, is published monthly in Paraplegia News, and has appeared regularly on local (CA) and national media to discuss key veterans issues.
A lifelong athlete and a proponent of adaptive sports, Kovach is a two-time winner of the LA Marathon, a participant of the Paralympic Games, and has completed a 3,700-mile transcontinental triathlon.
As a recognized leader in veterans advocacy, Kovach is a sought-after advisor for civic, community and corporate partners who share his commitment to improving the quality of life for veterans and all people living with spinal cord injury or disease. 
A native of Philadelphia, Kovach attended Indiana University (1983-1987), and was a member of their legendary swim team before joining the Navy in 1988. He and his wife, Magaly, reside in Coronado, CA.