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Defense Department Honors Disabled Federal Employees

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

BETHESDA, Md., Dec. 7, 2005 – The Defense Department recognized 19 disabled federal employees during the 25th Annual DoD Disability Awards Ceremony here Dec. 6.

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David S. C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, told those gathered for the 25th DoD Disability Awards that attitudes toward the disabled have shifted across the country. That shift in thinking has made the reality that the disabled can be exceptional employees much more acceptable. Photo by Samantha L. Quigley

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David S. C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, delivered opening remarks for the DoD ceremony and its 18th Annual Disability Forum. The award ceremony and forum are held in conjunction with the Labor Department's National Symposium on Perspectives on Employment of Individuals with Disabilities, the only annual national symposium focused on federal employment of the disabled.

DoD employs more than 5,000 workers with severe disabilities targeted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for emphasis in affirmative action programs, Chu said. That number is nearly 1 percent of DoD's civilian work force.

"While that percentage is higher than in many other agencies, we know we can do better," he said.

Toward that goal, DoD reaches out to disabled college students through the Workforce Recruitment Program. Co-sponsored by the Labor Department, the program provides summer internships to students.

This past summer, DoD employed 237 disabled college students across the country. Some of these students become permanent federal employees.

"We have found that this program is an excellent pipeline to careers in our civilian work force for people with disabilities," Chu said.

The theme of this year's award ceremony and forum, "Workers with Disabilities Ready for Tomorrow's Jobs Today," raises the bar on disability employment awareness, he said.

"That is a lofty theme, and it gets us thinking about how we have been able to improve ... job opportunities for people with disabilities," he said.

Along with a national attitude shift toward acceptance of employing disabled people, Chu said, technology to accommodate disabled workers has mushroomed.

For example, Chu said, the governmentwide Computer/Electronic Accommodation Program offer a vast array of that technology. CAP, established in 1990, provides assisted technology and services for federal employees with disabilities at no cost to the employee's agency.

Chu emphasized that while attitudes were shifting in the workplace, a shift also was taking place on the battlefield. He acknowledged that even through World War I, servicemembers with disabilities were viewed as not fit to remain in the military.

"Beginning with the Second World War and the years after, however, military officials began to realize that (casting) military personnel with disabilities aside was a wasteful loss of valuable human resources," he said, adding they have a valuable role to play in the global war on terrorism. "As our nation engages terrorists on a worldwide scale, it is important to cast a full range of skills and abilities held by every American if we are to succeed."

Melinda D. Brown is an example of just how persons with disabilities are contributing to that success. Brown, overwhelmed at being named one of the 19 award winners, has been with the National Guard Bureau in Arlington, Va., as an accounting technician since September 1993.

"It was just God's way of showing me that he has higher things for me," she said of the award John M. Molino, acting deputy undersecretary of defense for equal opportunity, presented her.

Molino also presented awards to:

  • Kaisa Cerys Ballard, senior auditor, Defense Contract Audit Agency, Fort Worth, Texas;
  • Ulysees Banks, store worker, Defense Commissary Agency, Silver Spring, Md.;
  • William M. Chipp, supervisory accountant, Defense Finance and Accounting Service, Denver;
  • Anjanette Marie Daigle, intelligence officer, Defense Intelligence Agency, Washington, D.C.;
  • Rina A. D'Amore, marine safety data analyst, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Bethesda, Md.;
  • Judith S. Gallagher, division director, Department of the Navy, Port Hueneme, Calif.;
  • John Willie Gooch, Jr., staff accountant, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Fort Belvoir, Va.;
  • John D. Hanson, worklife consultant, Department of the Air Force, Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D.;
  • Lamoine E. Hill, personnel security specialist, Defense Security Service, Columbus, Ohio;
  • Carol Ann Horen, public affairs specialist, Defense Information Systems Agency, Arlington, Va.;
  • Celita A. Julian, retail annex supervisor, Army and Air Force Exchange Service, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii;
  • Mary Frances Listman, acquisition logistics specialist, National Security Agency, Fort Meade, Md.;
  • Annmarie C. Matta, human resources specialist, Office of the Secretary of Defense/Washington Headquarters Services, Arlington, Va.;
  • Bradley William Staton, contract specialist, Department of Defense Education Activity, Mainz-Kastel, Germany;
  • Howard Tevelson, supply planner, Defense Logistics Agency, Philadelphia;
  • Mary Ann Thompson, engineering research psychologist, Department of the Army, Fort Rucker, Ala.;
  • David Brian Viola, supervisory information technology specialist, Defense Contract Management Agency, Orlando, Fla.; and
  • Eleanor A. Wills, audit project manager, Office of the Inspector General, Arlington, Va.

Molino also honored three DoD components for their outstanding accomplishments in their affirmative action programs for people with disabilities. The awards are brass cups that are passed on from the previous year's winners.

The Best Military Department award went to the Department of the Army, and the Defense Logistics Agency earned the Best Mid-Size Component. The Defense Finance Accounting Service was chosen as the Best Small Component.

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David S. C. Chu

Click photo for screen-resolution imageJohn M. Molino (left), acting deputy undersecretary of defense for equal opportunity, presents Ulysees Banks (center), one of the 19 Outstanding DoD Employees with Disabilities awards during the 25th Annual DoD Disability Awards ceremony. Patrick B. Nixon, acting director of the Defense Commissary Agency, assisted Molino in his presentation. A special education teacher for 16 years in Washington metropolitan area, Banks works for the Defense Commissary Agency in Silver Spring, Md. Cerebral palsy has diminished use of his left arm, shoulder and leg. Photo by Samantha L. Quigley  
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