DISABLED AMERICAN VETERANS: FIGHTING FOR ACCESS
November 9, 2022
On Veterans Day, we think of the men and women of the U.S. armed forces who have preserved our American democracy. Those in uniform serve the country valiantly and often return home to face the challenges of physical disabilities and mental and emotional trauma. What they want most is a return to independence, overcoming their challenges to live freely.
Disabled American Veterans (DAV), an organization founded in 1920, addresses the needs of veterans with service-related disabilities, advocating for legislation, providing employment assistance, and fighting for their interests on the home front.
"Veterans with service-connected disabilities want to get back into the workplace and lead productive and active lives," said Marquis Barefield, assistant national legislative director for the DAV.
Barefield says making sure that veterans with disabilities have safe and accessible entrances and exits to buildings where they live, work, and play is critical to achieving their desired independence. "Whether it's automatic doors that open with the push of a button or ramps to reach that automatic door, veterans who use wheelchairs, walkers or canes, value the ability to access buildings under their own power."
A top priority for the DAV's advocacy work is educating employers on how best to provide a safe and accessible workplace for all, including helping them understand the Americans with Disabilities Act (ACA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which applies to federal government agencies.
The DAV, from its inception, has successfully lead legislative initiatives including a bill in the 1920s that created what is now known as the VA. Recognizing that the needs of service-disabled veterans don't end with armed conflicts, the DAV provides life-long support for veterans and their families.
Today, the DAV, headquartered in Cold Spring, Kentucky, has more than one million members. As veterans make the transition to civilian life and search for employment, they look to the DAV for support and encouragement. The DAV provides free professional assistance to help veterans understand and take advantage of the healthcare, disability, employment, education, and financial benefits they have earned through their military service.
Automatic doors give service-disabled veterans and people with disabilities everywhere the ability to enter and exit buildings just like everyone else. "The veterans we serve are smart and talented," said Barefield. "They want to be productive citizens in our society and won't let their disabilities stand in their way."
As we move about our daily lives, it's important to remember that our veterans commit their lives to the service of this country and upholding the freedoms that some might take for granted. Safe and easy physical access to the built environment means that disabled veterans have one less thing to worry about.
For more information about the DAV, visit https://www.ihelpveterans.org/.
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