Sometimes fighting the system isn’t enough. Sometimes you have to change the system.
Alvin Kenon knew he wanted to work in law enforcement from a very early age: “My earliest memory of knowing I wanted to be a police officer was in third grade. I didn’t have anyone in particular who guided me to it; I just knew I wanted to help people.”
Following a stint in the military that took him from New York to California, Alvin eventually found his way to Las Vegas where he joined the City of Las Vegas Department of Public Safety as a corrections officer. But just like in third grade, Alvin had higher ambitions.
“I believe you always have to progress yourself,” says Alvin. “To look out for your family, you have to have marketable skills and be able to diversify into something else if necessary.”
Alvin’s belief in personal progression manifested itself through education. After testing for the rank of sergeant and being passed over three times, he went to school for seven years, first earning his associate’s degree, then a bachelor’s, and finally a master’s degree in social work.
“I believe you always have to progress yourself. To look out for your family, you have to have marketable skills and be able to diversify into something else if necessary.”
His belief was indeed farsighted because there did come a time when his calling to serve others took a dramatic turn.
After Alvin made the rank of sergeant, he was sitting in his office one day when the calf muscles in his right leg began to hurt. At the hospital, tests revealed that he had deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in his leg. Following five days in the hospital, he returned to work.
In July 2017, he felt that same DVT pain again, this time in both legs. Doctors found embolisms in both lungs. “I knew I wasn’t going back to work. I knew that this was going to be a disability I’d have to live with, but I viewed it as just another path on the road of life.”
Since he had to be on blood thinners for his disability, Alvin could not continue pursuing his career in law enforcement. He filed for disability benefits and was denied. “They tried every way they could to disqualify me. I had to fight every inch of it. It was very frustrating. I called several law firms, but they didn’t want to take my case — until I reached out to GGRM.”
“[His] condition knocked him out of his job. And he was heartbroken about that.”
For two years, GGRM workers’ compensation attorney Jason Mills worked to obtain permanent disability benefits for Alvin. “Alvin wanted to be a Las Vegas corrections officer for many, many more years,” Jason said. “He loved his job, his coworkers loved him, his supervisors loved him, he was a great all-around corrections officer, but this condition knocked him out of his job. And he was heartbroken about that. But he had a master’s degree in social work and started spending his time assisting abused and neglected children. He found a new way to apply his passion to serve. And then the city removed his permanent total disability benefits because he was working.”
It wasn’t enough to win in the courts, which Jason and Alvin did. It was important for Alvin to keep his disability benefits and continue his work as a licensed clinical social worker.
Jason knew that sometimes fighting the system isn’t enough. Sometimes you have to change the system. That’s when they knew they needed a legislative solution.
“The Heart & Lung Bill (SB 295) stops penalizing dedicated men and women by taking away their permanent disability benefits because they have found other, meaningful work.”
In March 2021, the Heart & Lung Bill (SB 295) was introduced in the Nevada legislature. Backed by fire and police associations as well as the Nevada Justice Association and the Trial Lawyers Association, this bill clarifies existing state law so that law enforcement officers, firefighters, and arson investigators who can no longer perform their jobs because of heart disease, lung disease, or hepatitis are entitled to permanent total disability benefits if they are partially disabled. That bill was passed unanimously and is now law in Nevada.
“What this new law does is stop penalizing these dedicated men and women by taking away their permanent disability benefits because they have found other, meaningful work,” says Jason. “Their monthly permanent total disability benefit will still be paid to them, recognizing their sacrifices, and it should not be taken away or altered simply because these people still want to be an active, participating member of society.”
“The reason Jason is so good at what he does is because he knows how to handle it,” says Alvin. “He is a diligent advocate who works hard for his clients. I never felt alone.”
Today, Alvin is a clinical program manager for a youth clinic that helps minor children with mental health and substance abuse issues. In addition, he maintains a private counseling practice.
“I like to solve problems,” Alvin explains. “My whole career, I have seen people filter in and out of the system because they have been penalized for their mental health problems. The criminalization of mental health is not right; it’s not solving the problem. I have to help people advocate for themselves.”
Solving problems. Advocating for others. Just like GGRM.
Contact GGRM. We Can Help.
If you’ve been injured in an accident and have questions, consult with the experienced injury attorneys at GGRM. We have over 50 years of experience helping the injured get back to their lives. To set up your free consultation, contact us or call us at 702-384-1616 today.