William D. Lightner
Residence: Hollidaysburg, Blair County, Pennsylvania
I joined the Air Force at age 18. After basic training I was stationed at Edwards Air Force Base, where I served as an aircraft machinist starting in 1983. In 1986 I was involved in an automobile accident that broke my neck, resulting in my becoming a paraplegic.
After several major surgeries and about four to five months of rigorous rehabilitation to stabilize me, I returned to Pennsylvania to complete many years of physical and occupational therapy. I still do physical therapy to keep me in shape and active.
I joined the Paralyzed Veterans of America in the early 1990s when I was approached by a Keystone Chapter member and that’s when I joined the chapter and became active. I am involved in all types of sports and recreation programs whether it be local, state, or at the national level, such as the National Veterans Wheelchair Games, for the past ten years, where I’ve been awarded with many medals and awards for my efforts.
I’ve served as the chapter’s Deputy Representative of the VA Volunteer Services program at the James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center in Altoona, Pa. for many years, and I am now the primary Representative. I also am a member of the Patients Centered Care Committee and the Veterans Advisory Council at the Altoona VAMC. I’ve been a regular volunteer at the Altoona VAMC for almost ten years and have been acknowledged with many pins, certificates and awards for my hours of dedication to veterans for my efforts.
In 2013, I was elected to the chapter’s Board of Directors and then as the board secretary. I also am the Keystone Chapter’s hospital liaison officer (HLO) for the chapter, which involves monitoring and reporting on the care of veterans at the Altoona VAMC, and I am the chapter’s site leader for Keystone Chapter members in the Altoona-Johnstown-Somerset region.
I want to give back to my fellow veterans as much as possible, because Paralyzed Veterans and the VA were there when I needed help and they still continue to meet my needs. I am honored to be part of this fine organization and love to help with my fellow veterans in any way that I can.