Mission & History

Our Mission

United Spinal Association is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life of all people living with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D), including veterans, and providing support and information to loved ones, care providers and professionals.

We believe no person should be excluded from opportunity on the basis of their disability. Our goal is to provide people living with SCI/D programs and services that maximize their independence and enable them to remain active in their communities.

Our Roots

United Spinal was founded in 1946 by a determined group of paralyzed WWII veterans in New York City who advocated for greater civil rights and independence for themselves and their fellow veterans. Rejecting the poor treatment they received at their local VA hospital, they decided to form a support group. From these modest beginnings, United Spinal was born. Since then, our core belief has remained unchanged. Despite living with SCI/D, a full, productive, and rewarding life is within the reach of anyone with the strength to believe it and the courage to make it happen.

Today, United Spinal is the largest non-profit organization dedicated to helping people living with SCI/D. We are committed to providing active-lifestyle information, peer support and advocacy that empower individuals to achieve their highest potential in all facets of life.

Our Community

Each year, United Spinal helps thousands of wheelchair-users, veterans, and people with multiple sclerosis and other spinal cord disorders overcome the daily challenges of living with a disability. And we extend our support to those most important in their lives–– their family members and caregivers. We have more than 60 local chapters and support groups nationwide, connecting people with SCI/D to their peers and fostering an expansive grassroots network that enriches lives.

United Spinal’s members include individuals of all ages and backgrounds who are driven, independent, and active participants in our society. They are paralympians, wounded warriors, talented artists, kids with big dreams, proud parents, self-advocates, heroes, survivors, and accomplished professionals. We are committed to educating and empowering individuals with SCI/D to achieve and maintain the highest levels of independence, health and personal fulfillment.

Our membership community provides a lifeline for many individuals that are focused on regaining their independence and improving their quality of life––whether they are leaving rehab after sustaining a spinal cord injury, learning to live with symptoms of a spinal cord disorder, or have spent years of frustration coping with disability. We  provide members guidance and resources on a variety of topics they are passionate about, such as employment, affordable housing, transportation, health care, home- and community-based independent living, education, peer support, and leisure and recreation.

Our Advocacy

United Spinal is committed to advancing public policies that lead to greater civil rights and independence for people with disabilities.

Throughout our history, we have advocated on behalf of individuals living with SCI/D through state and federal legislation and accessibility litigation in the courts. Our members know that we are on their side, and will remain there until our support is no longer needed.

By leveraging all of our resources, we have stronger involvement in community affairs and more opportunities to advance public policies. This allows us to form key alliances that expand the reach of our mission. Our public policy initiatives focus on expanding education and employment, improving enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), ensuring adequate access to public transportation and taxi services, and amending Medicare rules that restrict many individuals to their homes and nursing facilities.

We believe in:
• Access to Quality Affordable Healthcare
• Employment Opportunities, Self Sufficiency and Independent Living
• Consumer Directed Quality Health Care and Community Integration
• Preservation of Social Security Benefits
• Protecting the Rights of People with Disabilities

Learn  more about our Public Policy Priorities.

Our Message

Disability awareness has always been an integral part of United Spinal’s mission and culture. Our aim is to raise public awareness on the often-overlooked disability issues that affect our community. Maintaining the highest standards in communications, we promote our mission through our websites; social media pages; press releases; magazines and informative publications; participatory events and instructional sessions; public service announcements; and e-mail alerts. But the greatest asset in spreading our message has always been our members and supporters who believe in the work we do.

Informative Publications
United Spinal provides a diverse selection of educational and informative publications. More information

Membership & Lifestyle Magazine
United Spinal’s New Mobility Magazine covers a diverse selection of contemporary topics that are of interest to wheelchair users. It also includes the latest United Spinal chapter-related news as well as member profiles and updates on major program initiatives.
More information