Bill Kokendoffer loves to tell the history of Paralyzed Veterans of America and specifically the history of the Mid America chapter which serves Oklahoma, southern Kansas and western Arkansas. This year (2019) marks his 44th year in a wheelchair. His life in a chair began before ADA updated access to so many places. He understands veterans and all those with disabilities as they come to terms with how much their lives have changed.
Bill likes to tell the story of a veteran he went to personally meet at the Oklahoma VA hospital who was severely injured during his third deployment to Afghanistan. The freshly wheelchair-bound vet was not very receptive to Bill’s encouragement, but Bill certainly understood his hesitance to join a Veteran’s Association. Later, the vet told Bill that he tried to send his wife and new baby away since they didn’t deserve a life of limitations. They are now facing their new life together.
Growing up on a farm, all Bill ever wanted to do was be a farmer and raise cattle and horses. He thought his love for outdoors was ended. One of Bill’s favorite parts of Mid America PVA is the outdoor activities they sponsor for vets like shooting sports events, fishing, bowling and all the athletic events now available for vets in wheelchairs.
Paralyzed veterans have seen a lot of changes in Bill’s lifetime. PVA started in 1946, helping WWII vets. At that time, paralyzed vets used old wicker chairs with wheels on them. Since that time, Bill has seen more benefits, more access, more disability rights and ways to truly make a great quality of life in a wheelchair. Thank you, Bill, for your service to our country which includes helping veterans come to terms with their new life. Visit with Bill and hear some great stories as well as amazing activities to get out and enjoy life!