When he was in the Army serving in Germany, Rory Cooper was in a bicycle accident that left him paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. But his service to America didn’t end when his Army career did. Cooper became a research biomedical engineer and focused his work on helping the disabled.
Since then, Cooper, who is director of VA’s Human Engineering Research Laboratories has helped hundreds of thousands of disabled Veterans and other Americans by designing innovative wheelchairs and other assistive technology equipment that improves mobility and quality of life.
In May, Cooper was named a finalist for the as Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals, a prestigious public service award that recognizes the dedication of federal government employees. In September, seven award winners will be selected from the 26 finalists and recognized at the annual “Sammies” event in Washington.
Now, VAntage Point readers can help recognize Cooper for his work by voting in the People’s Choice Award category. On August 1, the top 12 finalists for the award will be announced, with the top four announced on September 1. Voting continues until September 15.
As Cooper told the Partnership for Public Service when he was selected as a finalist, the need to serve is what motivates him. “My time in the Army drives me to do the work I do,’’ he said. “I get my energy from the Veterans. If you have the ability to make a difference, you also have an obligation.”