Letter from the Executive Director
To all NAIDW Members and Visitors,
My name is Jon A. Arbay and I’m the founder of NAIDW. I want to thank you for taking the time to listen to my story and for allowing me to express my personal feelings and beliefs, about which I am extremely passionate. I am not the CEO of a fortune 500 company; I am not a politician, nor am I a shrewd business man with a hidden agenda. I am just an ordinary person struggling physically, mentally, financially, and socially in what has become the biggest battle of my life.
About five years ago my life, my simple life was turned upside down when I suffered a catastrophic work related - career ending accident, which left me permanently disabled! This event was such a pivotal point in my life. Everything before the accident now seems like a different lifetime. Everything since…has become my nightmare. Even as I write these very words, I am overwhelmed by emotions, missing my uncomplicated past that is now only a distant memory.
This was five years ago, and my life has been a roller coaster ride of pain and sorrow ever since. For the first 19 months, I was out of work without receiving a single insurance check. That’s nineteen months of trying to survive, trying to keep my family from falling apart, and trying to stay strong in the face of physical, emotional, and financial hardship. To be honest, I didn’t know if I would make it. My body was so broken, and my spirit was following in sync. I asked myself: “How can I provide for my family in my condition? Why am I suddenly so unimportant to my country when I have worked so hard all of my life?” Yet during some of my darkest hours, I heard myself saying again and again that I was going to make sure this didn’t continue to happen to others. I realized that the appalling treatment of injured and disabled workers and their families needed to be stopped, and I was going to take that step to see that it was.
Although my disability was work related, NAIDW is and always will be committed to helping "ALL" workers and their families touched by injury, illness, pain, disability and death. It's really about helping injured & disabled workers and their families!
To those of you that have been injured or disabled, or the family members of those injured & disabled workers, I know exactly what you’re going through and how you feel. You may be saying to yourself, "Can he really know how I feel? Could he possibly understand what I’m going through?" Yes I really do. I know how it feels to live with this devastation—the anguish, the isolation, and the anger—because I've been going through it for the past five years. If you are expecting me to tell you not to worry, and that everything will be alright, then you are entirely wrong. The unfortunate reality is that things are not alright for us, and they will never be alright unless we decide to stand up and do something about it.
Ours is a cause that goes unsupported. We don’t receive the sympathy and acknowledgment of other causes. Instead, we are shunned and labeled. As if suddenly, being injured & disabled has transformed us into lazy, useless people who only want to sit around and collect a check. That wasn’t who we were before, so why would people assume that being injured, illness, pain or disability would cause us to change into this? But this isn’t our fault, nor is it the fault of those who judge us. Most would say it’s the fault of the insurance companies with all of their greed, who spend billions of dollars just to keep that money out of the hands of people who need it so desperately.
Rest assured that at NAIDW, you are in the right place, surrounded by people such as myself, who are personally dedicated to helping fellow injured and disabled workers. I will try to keep most of the information and resources on a positive and uplifting note in regards to our mission. However, what we are going through involves a lot of anger and disappointment, and some of these emotions need to be expressed. I only hope to educate people of the realities and size of the epidemic that we are dealing with.
Unfortunately, when I was injured, my questions went unanswered, and it was extremely difficult to find the guidance I so desperately needed. Simple things like finding a doctor or lawyer became very complicated. When I looked for resources, I didn’t find what I needed. Instead of foundations built by injured & disabled workers, I found only profit-centered, opportunistic organizations looking for financial gain from injured and disabled people. This is why my mission is to create a resource for injured and disabled workers that wasn’t available during my own crisis. As far as I am concerned, enough is enough! Something needs to be done now to protect the workers.
Here’s the bottom line: You have to control your own destiny. Don’t allow anyone else to control it for you because you are the only person who truly knows what is right for yourself. I say this because I had nowhere to turn after my injury. I was naïve to the process and I had to learn the hard way. Having experienced that first hand, I decided that I wanted to help other people, so that they did not have to face the same challenges I did. For each one of you, the path will be unique, because your individual struggles are all very different. However, I can assure you that with hard work and perseverance, things will eventually improve. But no matter how difficult it may be, I will try my absolute best to help improve your situation in any way I can.
Never hesitate to contact me directly.
|Questions? Contact Us|
- Dr. Zeki Uygur, M.D.
- Dr. Judith Ivins, P.H.D
- Dr. Stephen J. Resis M.D.
- Dr. Wesley Y. Yapor, M.D.
- Dr. Spiros G. Stamelos, M.D.
- Dr. Howard S. Konowitz, M.D.
- The Law Offices of O’Connor & Nakos - My Attorney: Stephen J. Cummings (Partner)
I would especially like to thank Alexander J. Ghanayem, M.D. Director Division of Spine Surgery Loyola University Medical Center. Dr. Ghanayem was the 4th IME doctor I visited. Every other IME doctor I saw told me there was nothing wrong and that I should have returned to work the next day. Dr. Ghanayem was the only one who demonstrated his integrity and compassion for his patients. He stays true to his original values and is not influenced by the huge insurance companies. He was the only Doctor who agreed with my Neurosurgeon that my injury was consistent with my work related accident. I cannot begin to explain the sense of vindication that has given me! Thank you Dr. Ghanayem for saving my family and most importantly…my life.