The National Association for Rehabilitation Leadership
A Professional Division of the National Rehabilitation Associaition
NARL Participates in NRA's Government Affairs Seminar
“FROM CAPITOL HILL TO CONSUMER, AND BACK AGAIN -
ONE MAN’S JOURNEY”
On Sunday, March 14, 2010 a panel discussion was convened at the National Rehabilitation Association’s 29th Annual Government Affairs Summit for the purpose of sharing Kent Keyser’s story. Members of the panel were Kent Keyser, Chief of Staff to Congressman Nick Rahall; Janet Fiore, CEO, The Sierra Group; and Eleanor Williams, Administrative Specialist ,Community Based Services, Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services (DRS). Each member of the panel brought a different perspective.
Kent’s contribution was his own story. He described how he had experienced a freak accident in his home. The accident produced paralysis from a spinal cord injury. Kent talked about the surgery to rebuild his spinal cord which was performed at the rehabilitation hospital in Washington, D.C. Kent said that Congressman Rahall had told him during his recovery that he would be returning to Capitol Hill to work. Kent described the services that he received from the Sierra Group. He described the services provided by his vocational rehabilitation team made up of Karen Baugh, DRS Counselor in the Fairfax Office, Suzanne Simpson Rehabilitation Engineer, and Mike Seitz, Fabricator. Kent stated that having personal care attendants paid for through the DRS Personal Assistance Services Program had made a critical difference. Lastly he described the training that he received from a therapist tech from SCI Fitness of Virginia. Kent talked about how he contributed his own determination to the many programs provided by the professionals. The total effort was integral to his successful return to work on Capitol Hill as a Chief of Staff.
Eleanor talked about how many pieces make up the puzzle when talking about a successful rehabilitation program and that no one organization or person could have done all that was needed for success. From the consumer, to the public vocational rehabilitation program, to the community rehabilitation providers, to the other private providers it was a team effort, and it required that all work together in order for success to be realized. Eleanor stated that she has a grandson with disabilities who was helped by DRS. In both cases she witnessed first hand how important it was to bring all the players to the table. She concluded by saying, “There are many more stories out there, and these are just two examples of how the pieces of the puzzle were brought together to provide services and complete the puzzle.”
Janet Fiore stated, “We at The Sierra Group are committed to driving up employment for people with disabilities including veterans. In our Candidate Sourcing, Workforce Strategy, and Vocational Rehabilitation Divisions we have the privilege of serving consumers, businesses, and agencies on a daily basis. Never has that privilege touched me more than when I had the opportunity to assist Kent Keyser in his journey back to work. All of us at The Sierra Group fully support Kent’s desire to continue engaging in the research that will help him to continue to work full time, and will help others in the future to be able to do the same.” Janet closed with, “Our friend, Kent Keyser, long has been fond of quoting Frank Sinatra: A friend in need – is a pest. But sometimes, a friend in need is just a friend in need.” Today, Kent is that friend.