Alberto Velasco - Graduate

Dec 3, 2010
Alberto Velasco
Alberto Velasco - Graduate

Alberto Velasco survived two tours as a Marine reservist in Iraq. After returning stateside, he assumed things would get easier.

Lifesettled down. Velasco returned to his job as a police officer in a Chicago suburb, and married his sweetheart.  

Then disaster struck. A car accident left Velasco paralyzed from the chest down. He was 27.

For the first year or two in a wheelchair, Velasco relied on his wife and family to help him with daily tasks that most people take for granted. Then, Velasco’s wife pushed him to do more, like shifting from the chair to bed, on his own. Velasco took it as a challenge.

These days, he is surprisingly confident and independent. He drives a specially fitted car, pedals a handcycle for exercise and takes his son to school every morning.

Through his Wounded Warrior Program fellowship as a military liaison in the district office of Republican Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois, Velasco helped other vets find their independence too. He guided them through the subtleties of Veterans Administration benefits plans and the GI Bill. He helped replace damaged service medals, and met with veterans groups.        

Along the way, Velasco had had to bone up on politics, delve into bureaucratic details and learn to deal with a variety of constituents. “It’s a good challenge,” he said at the time. “And I’ve always been one to like a challenge.”

It’s easy to see how Velasco was cut out for his fellowship. Rolling around in his wheelchair emblazoned with a United States Marines Corps patch, Velasco is quick to shake hands and put people at ease. “Walking is way overrated,” he jokes. “I have a seat anywhere and everywhere I go.”

Prior to completing his fellowship, Velasco was offered and accepted an administrative position with a local police department.