By Heather Seftel-Kirk, FedHealthIT Contributing Author
Earlier this year, FedHealthIT announced its Top 100. Nominated and chosen by peers, these individuals have been recognized for driving change and advancement, for their willingness to challenge conventional wisdom, and for giving back to the larger Federal Health IT and Consulting community.
This week we spoke with Nadeem Butler, President and CEO of Technatomy, about giving for the moment, and his inspiration as a beneficiary of the system.
Butler is a former Army Ranger and Service Disabled Veteran. He is now Chair of Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), raising funds and awareness; advocating for research, education, civil rights, and benefits for veterans who have experienced spinal cord injury or dysfunction.
It can start with chance
Butler first became involved with PVA when he was invited by a colleague as a contractor working with the VA, to take part in an event. Though the invitation was extended to everyone in a similar role, he says he saw immediately that he could make a difference, and he hasn’t looked back.
“That was four years ago. I saw that working for veterans through my career was important to me, but also that working for paralyzed veterans held a special place for me.”
Since that initial introduction, Butler has continued to help raise awareness and, through his business experience, has helped the PVA set and achieve its goals. Last year the organization raised more than $630,000. This year’s goal is $700,000.
We’re all just a moment away
In his volunteer role, Butler gets to meet with and work with some of the disabled veterans. They are a reminder of his own experiences, and fortune. “At 19, starting in the military, I thought I was indestructible. I meet kids now who are that age, or close to it, who have become disabled, and I wonder, how many really know what that means, what a lifetime of care means. What would I have understood of that?”
For those volunteers not from military experience, he says the connection is sometimes about the research and work going on in head and spinal injuries for instance, that impacts the wider community.
In his current role as Chair, Butler will have the opportunity to speak with companies and with dignitaries, to create a compelling proposition that will hopefully inspire support and awareness, and to continue to give back. “Paralyzed Veterans President, Al Kovach, Jr. and Sherman Gillums, Jr., Executive Director both have stories to share. Either one could have been mine. I am always aware that we are all just a moment away from a different story.”
What’s important is the moment!
Butler says he has found it is helpful to compartmentalize, to tackle one challenge at a time, and to appreciate one moment at a time so it does not become overwhelming. “There can be a tendency to look at an organization and the scope of its work and just feel it is too big to get involved. By focusing on single projects, single tasks, you break it down into something manageable.”
One of Butler’s passions for instance, is the MISSION: ABLE Awards. The Paralyzed Veterans’ Mission: ABLE Awards Dinner honors those who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership and fought for the expanded rights for the 25 million courageous veterans, 54 million people with disabilities and 800,000 Americans living with spinal cord injury or disease. The attendees represent more than 400 distinguished guests, including senior military, government leadership, members of Congress and benefactors working to fulfill the promises made to our deserving veterans.
The awards that are given on this special evening are in recognition of a continued commitment to our paralyzed veterans and their families and the 2017 Award winners are:
The Achieve: ABLE Award – Penske Automotive Group
The Employ: ABLE Award – IVMF – Institute for Veterans and Military Families
The Sustain: ABLE Award – Altria
The Humanitarian Award – Rich Brooks
Another initiative involves a project with homeless veterans in which, in exchange for an annual medical check-up, veterans receive a new pair of boots. “These events are all about the moment. It isn’t about where they came from or where they’re going to go tomorrow, what happened to them or how it happened. It’s about them, and doing something for them in that moment and that in itself makes me feel good.”
Butler says there is no trick to getting involved; you just have to give, to do.
For more information about Mission: ABLE Awards:
Jane Eakins, firstname.lastname@example.org