When I was visiting my then-girlfriend in Columbus a few years ago, we realized her apartment complex was not outfitted to accommodate a wheelchair. There was handicap parking, but unless you were on the ground floor, that person would not be able to access your apartment. That realization made me notice more instances of this in our communities, and I’ve become sympathetic to the challenges that brings to persons in wheelchairs.
I’ve also seen the technology that has improved the lives of those with permanent injuries. Rory Cooper was on the podcast a while back talking about his research and the breakthroughs he’s making. Pictures from a recent golf event showed paralyzed Veterans using a chair that helped them stand upright so they could properly swing a golf club.
So, we have a society that’s still behind on accommodations, and we have technology that is making breakthroughs for the people it serves. Where does that put us overall and what is the experience of injured Veterans when looking through those two lenses? I sat down with David Zurfluh, the National President of Paralyzed Veterans of America. David talks to us about his time in the Air Force, his accident and injury, the evolution of accommodations, and how his organization serves Veterans.
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.