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Difficulty moving up the corporate ladder or achieving the next level of rank is one thing. Difficulty moving across the room is quite another. As the number of severely wounded in our country grows, so grows the mobility challenges that our veterans face whether in the workplace or simply in life itself.

Fortunately, solutions are out there for the taking if you only know about them. One such solution is the Segs4Vets program, established in September 2005 by Disability Rights Advocates for Technology (DRAFT) and designed to help servicemembers and veterans who have been wounded in combat achieve greater mobility.

The segs in Segs4Vets stands for Segways. As you may recall, these unique looking vehicles hit the commercial scene a few years back and have since become visible in our daily lives.

Commuters use them to get from one busy place to another sans trains, cars, buses and bikes. Police officers use them on patrols to catch the bad guys and tourists navigate city streets and amusement parks on them.

Golfers swear by them when they're not swearing at their shots, and at last peek, you can pick up a used one on Amazon.com for about $5,600.

Now, through the Segs4Vets program, the electric wonders have found a new mission by being awarded to servicemembers who have, for example, lost one or both legs or who suffer from soft tissue and neurological damage that severely limits their ability to walk.

In short, Segways are helping our wounded reach for those dreams and live a better quality of life than previously expected.

"We all have an unbridled passion that those who have been severely injured valiantly serving our nation be provided every possible tool which will allow them to pursue their dreams," said Jerry Kerr, one of the founders of Segs4Vets and reportedly a Segway user himself after becoming a quadriplegic as a result of a diving accident.

In the past two years, Segs4Vets has awarded 148 Segways to Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans and to major military rehabilitation centers in Washington, D.C., Texas and California.

"We have just recently awarded 64 Segways in April and May and hope to be able to raise the necessary funding to present an additional 135 Segways prior to the end of 2008," Kerr said. "Obviously, the present condition of the economy makes this effort ever more challenging, but it is one we will pursue vigorously."

Segway, it should be noted, is not FDA approved as a medical device nor is it covered by military medical insurance.

However, it is growing in popularity among individuals with physical disabilities caused by spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease.

"We, of course, could not do this without the support of the American people who are giving us the privilege of serving the great men and women of the United States military and who join with us as we witness and rejoice in the improvement of every single recipient that we have awarded," Kerr said.

Segs4Vets program is administered by unpaid volunteers and includes many senior retired members of the United States military. The program was created with assistance from Air Force Gen. Ralph "Ed" Eberhart (retired), former Commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command.

To submit an online application for your own Segway (if you're eligible), donate to the cause or learn more about this program, visit www.segs4vets.org.

While you can't change the past and what may have happened to you or someone you care about, you can have a direct hand in making the future a better place to live and work.

Janet I. Farley is the author of "The Military-to-Civilian Career Transition Guide" and "The Military Spouse's Complete Guide to Career Success." Her column appears monthly in Stars and Stripes. She can be contacted at: janetfarley@hotmail.com


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