Founding member Robert Moss (with pipe) leads a 1948 demonstration at Grand Central Terminal, New York City, for improved health care for paralyzed veterans.
Our advocacy efforts go far beyond offering words of support and encouragement. We take this fight to Capitol Hill to bring attention to issues that matter most to the men and women who proudly served our country.
We connect with thousands of veterans and active military servicemen and women annually through our call center and online help desk, Ask VetsFirst. Our staff takes the time to address each inquiry, offering guidance with questions on military separation, claims appeals, and state benefits.
In addition to providing individual support and counseling services, VetsFirst offers timely and news and information across the spectrum of issues presently impacting the veterans community, including state benefits, separating from the military, as well as exclusive feature stories on military health care and VA funding and compensation.
As a program of United Spinal Association, VetsFirst has a long and illustrious history assisting and representing veterans and their eligible family members. Unlike other organizations, United Spinal—a VA recognized veterans service organization—strives to ensure the organization remains an instrument for veterans rather than an institution.
United Spinal’s history began in 1946 when a group of paralyzed World War II veterans from New York City and the surrounding area banded together to raise awareness of the alarming plight of their fellow paralyzed veterans. Rejecting the poor treatment they received at their local VA hospitals, they led the charge for greater civil rights and independence, forming the congressionally chartered Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA). United Spinal, formerly known as Eastern Paralyzed Veterans of America (EPVA), was a chapter of PVA.
As the organization matured under the leadership of James J. Peters in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, United Spinal helped improve the quality of health care for veterans, backing words with deeds and dollars by winning denied benefits for individual vets and investing money in VA programs and infrastructure. These efforts have been a boon to every American with a disability.
In 1970, Peters convinced Life magazine to run a cover story exposing the deplorable conditions facing Vietnam veterans with spinal cord injuries at the Bronx VA Medical Center. The story sparked a national outrage and convinced Congress to raze the facility and build a brand new hospital with special attention to SCI. In 2005, the hospital was renamed in honor of Peters and his work to ensure all veterans receive quality health care.
In 2007, United Spinal created its VetsFirst program to better assist members and other veterans. In order to adapt to a changing world and economy United Spinal founded VetsFirst, Inc. in 2009. VetsFirst, Inc., a 501(c)(3) was created for the sole and express purpose of providing financial support to United Spinal’s VetsFirst program.
Today, VetsFirst continues the important work to uphold the values, objectives and mission needed for our nation’s veterans no matter when or where they served.