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DoD Honors Employees with Disabilities

By K.L. Vantran
American Forces Press Service

BETHESDA, Md., Dec. 11, 2003 – Paula L. Briscoe, guided by her faithful companion, a 7-year-old golden retriever named Jenny, confidently walked to the front of the Crystal Ballroom at the Hyatt Regency Hotel here Dec. 9. She smiled as she shook hands with Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness David S.C. Chu and accepted her award.

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Harvey T. Hale, a logistics officer with the Department of the Army, Wilmington, N.C., accepts the secretary of defense certificate for outstanding employees with disabilities from Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness David S.C. Chu. Cerebral palsy limits his ability to use the right side of his body, but difficulty walking does not deter him from daily tours of the premises to assure excellent service. The 23rd Annual DoD Disability Awards Ceremony was held Dec. 9 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bethesda, Md. Photo by K.L. Vantran.
  

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"It's nice to see the Department of Defense recognizing people with disabilities not specifically because they have disabilities, but because of what they contribute," said Briscoe, an intelligence officer with the Defense Intelligence Agency, Washington, D.C. She was one of 17 DoD employees recognized as an outstanding employee with disabilities at the 23rd Annual DoD Disability Awards Ceremony and 16th Annual DoD Disability Forum.

Other awardees are:

Gregory T. Burrell, Defense Logistics Agency, Richmond, Va.

Michael B. Dell Jr., DoD Office of the Inspector General, Cleveland.

Scott M. Deyo, Office of the Secretary of Defense/Washington Headquarters Services, Arlington, Va.

Alice E. Dickerson, Defense Commissary Agency, Fort Lee, Va.

Martha G. Fraier, Defense Security Service, St. Louis.

Harvey T. Hale, Department of the Army, Wilimington, N.C.

Charles A. Hoff, DoD Education Activity, Arlington, Va.

Gerald Mineo Isobe, Defense Finance and Accounting Service, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Raymond Dale Jenks Jr., Department of the Air Force, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

Timothy C. Johnson, Army and Air Force Exchange Service, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.

Xiu Hua Kwan, Defense Contract Management Agency, Boston.

Patrick J. McNally, Defense Contract Audit Agency, Lowell, Mass.

"Mr. R" (not fully identified because of the nature of his work), National Security Agency, Fort George G. Meade, Md.

Warren W. Russum, Department of the Navy, Stennis Space Center, Miss.

Ronald J. Siudzinski, National Imagery and Mapping Agency, Reston, Va.

Johnathan D. Stone, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Fort Belvoir, Va.

In 1981, the secretary of defense began an awards program to honor outstanding DoD employees with disabilities. President Clinton signed an executive order in July 2000 directing the federal government to hire 100,000 employees with disabilities over the next five years. In response, DoD pledged to hire 32,000 candidates with qualified disabilities before September 2005.

"We have exceeded our goal and will intensify our efforts in the future," said Chu. "In particular, we want to focus on (hiring) individuals with severe disabilities. I'm proud to report we currently have more than 6,000 individuals with severe disabilities, which is about 1 percent of our civilian work force. While this percentage is higher than many agencies, we know we can do better."

Chu said the Census Bureau reports that 75 percent of people with disabilities do not have jobs. Although many want to work and could work, he said, most do not actively seek employment. "They are often too discouraged to try," he added.

"Most of us who are not so disabled can realistically expect to be employed," said Chu. People with disabilities can have no such expectation, he added. "This must change," Chu said, "and we want do to our part to change it."

In keeping with the goal of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to increase the employment of people with disabilities to 2 percent of the department's civilian work force, Chu said one should look to the theme for the awards ceremony and disability forum: "America Works Best When All Americans Work."

"We need all Americans to join in the global war on terrorism," he said. "This war will be fought in many ways, in many places at our desks and on battlefields. As we fight this crucial battle, individuals with disabilities can be full-fledged members of the defense team."

Managers should hire people with disabilities not because it gives them a "warm fuzzy" and makes them feel good, but because of what that individual can do for the work force, said W. Roy Grizzard Jr., assistant labor secretary for disability employment policy.

The keynote speaker congratulated those who received awards. "You are the example of what people with disabilities can do when given the opportunity," said Grizzard, who has retinitis pigmentosa, a progressive reduction in vision.

"People with disabilities bring to the work force far more abilities than they do disabilities," he added. "People with disabilities, when given an opportunity can succeed, move forward and move on."

The ceremony also lauded three DoD components for outstanding accomplishments in their affirmative action programs for people with disabilities. The 2003 Secretary of Defense Trophies for Achievement in Employment of People with Disabilities went to the Department of the Air Force for best military department, the Defense Logistics Agency for best mid-size component, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense/Washington Headquarters Services for best small component. The trophies are brass cups that travel annually from one winner to the next.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageWarren W. Russum, a writer-editor with the Department of the Navy at Stennis Space Center, Miss., accepts the secretary of defense certificate for outstanding employees with disabilities from Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness David S.C. Chu. A 1956 poster child for the March of Dimes, Russum contracted polio at the age of 6 weeks and for most of his life walked with the aid of braces and crutches. About 10 years ago, he began to experience post-polio syndrome. As a result, he now uses a wheelchair. The 23rd Annual DoD Disability Awards Ceremony was held Dec. 9 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bethesda, Md. Photo by K.L. Vantran.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageRaymond Dale Jenks Jr., an instructional systems specialist with the Department of the Air Force at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, accepts the secretary of defense certificate for outstanding employees with disabilities from Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness David S.C. Chu. Jenks was a college football player in 1986 when a diving accident left him paralyzed from the neck down. He operates his computer and telephone with chin and mouth controls, uses a power wheelchair for mobility and has a canine assistant named Rajah. The 23rd Annual DoD Disability Awards Ceremony was held Dec. 9 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bethesda, Md. Photo by K.L. Vantran.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageScott M. Deyo, an alternative dispute resolution specialist with the Office of the Secretary of Defense/Washington Headquarters Service in Arlington, Va., accepts the secretary of defense certificate for outstanding employees with disabilities from Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness David S.C. Chu. Deyo has a developmental expressive language disorder and a developmental reading disorder. The graduate of James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., received a certificate of recognition from the secretary of defense for assisting the families of the victims of the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon. The 23rd Annual DoD Disability Awards Ceremony was held Dec. 9 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bethesda, Md. Photo by K.L. Vantran.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageTimothy C. Johnson, a customer service representative with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., accepts the secretary of defense certificate for outstanding employees with disabilities from Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness David S.C. Chu. Born with cerebral palsy, Johnson is totally deaf in one ear and partially deaf in the other. His speech is impaired and he has difficulty walking. He mentors at-risk youth at Van Buren Middle School in Albuquerque and holds a federal communications commission license for his ham radio. The 23rd Annual DoD Disability Awards Ceremony was held Dec. 9 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bethesda, Md. Photo by K.L. Vantran.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAlice E. Dickerson, position classification specialist with the Defense Commissary Agency, Fort Lee, Va., accepts the secretary of defense certificate for outstanding employees with disabilities from Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness David S.C. Chu. Dickerson lost a leg to cancer as a young girl and has experienced two recurrences of the disease. She retired in June with more than 20 years of service in the human resources field. She said she hopes to go back to school to complete her master's degree in social work. The 23rd Annual DoD Disability Awards Ceremony was held Dec. 9 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bethesda, Md. Photo by K.L. Vantran.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imagePatrick J. McNally, an equal opportunity manager with the Defense Contract Audit Agency, Lowell, Mass., accepts the secretary of defense certificate for outstanding employees with disabilities from Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness David S.C. Chu. McNally has Maffucci syndrome, a genetic disease characterized by poor circulation and bone lesions. His hobbies include swimming, sailing, kayaking and scuba diving. The 23rd Annual DoD Disability Awards Ceremony was held Dec. 9 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bethesda, Md. Photo by K.L. Vantran.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageXiu Hua Kwan, an equal opportunity assistant with the Defense Contract Management Agency, Boston, accepts the secretary of defense certificate for outstanding employees with disabilities from Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness David S.C. Chu. Born in Canton, China, she lost her hearing at age 3. She moved to the United States in 1984. She now mentors a deaf high school student who has worked in her office since the fall of 2002. The 23rd Annual DoD Disability Awards Ceremony was held Dec. 9 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bethesda, Md. Photo by K.L. Vantran.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageGerald Mineo Isobe, an accountant with the Defense Finance and Accounting Service in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, accepts the secretary of defense certificate for outstanding employees with disabilities from Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness David S.C. Chu. Diagnosed with nerve deafness at an early age, Isobe communicates with a combination of sign language, fingerspelling, body language, facial expressions, e-mail and assistive technology. The 23rd Annual DoD Disability Awards Ceremony was held Dec. 9 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bethesda, Md. Photo by K.L. Vantran.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imagePaula L. Briscoe, an intelligence officer with the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington, D.C., accepts the secretary of defense certificate for outstanding employees with disabilities from Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness David S.C. Chu. Her canine companion, a 7-year-old Golden Retriever named Jenny, goes to work every day. Briscoe said once she's at work, she takes off Jenny's harness and "everybody pretty much thinks of her as the office dog." The 23rd Annual DoD Disability Awards Ceremony was held Dec. 9 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bethesda, Md. Photo by K.L. Vantran.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageGregory T. Burrell, an inventory management specialist with the Defense Logistics Agency, Richmond, Va., accepts the secretary of defense certificate for outstanding employees with disabilities from Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness David S.C. Chu. Burrell uses a cane because of cerebral palsy and an oversized computer screen due to limited eyesight. He is involved in his church youth group, the Parent Teacher Association at his son's school and Big Brothers Big Sisters Incorporated. The 23rd Annual DoD Disability Awards Ceremony was held Dec. 9 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bethesda, Md. Photo by K.L. Vantran.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageMartha G. Fraier, an investigative technician with the Defense Security Service, St. Louis, accepts the secretary of defense certificate for outstanding employees with disabilities from Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness David S.C. Chu. Fraier has scoliosis and has undergone numerous operations since she was a small child. She is a volunteer for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and has been a volunteer for Special Olympics for the past five years. The 23rd Annual DoD Disability Awards Ceremony was held Dec. 9 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bethesda, Md. Photo by K.L. Vantran.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageJohnathan D. Stone, a copier duplicating equipment operator with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency at Fort Belvoir, Va., accepts the secretary of defense certificate for outstanding employees with disabilities from Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness David S.C. Chu. Stone's cognitive disabilities have not prevented him from acquiring new skills such as operating bindery equipment. He is involved with his church and has been a member of the chorus for more than seven years. He enjoys swimming, hiking and spending time with his wife, Brenda. The 23rd Annual DoD Disability Awards Ceremony was held Dec. 9 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bethesda, Md. Photo by K.L. Vantran.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageCharles A. Hoff, an audiovisual production specialist with the Department of Defense Education Activity, Arlington, Va., accepts the secretary of defense certificate for outstanding employees with disabilities from Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness David S.C. Chu. Hoff was born with nystagmus, a neurological disorder that creates rapid, involuntary eye movements. He is legally blind and colorblind and often relies on a combination of software, color measurement devices and colleagues to ensure proper color selection in his designs. The 23rd Annual DoD Disability Awards Ceremony was held Dec. 9 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bethesda, Md. Photo by K.L. Vantran.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageRonald J. Siudzinski, a systems engineer with the National Imagery and Mapping Agency in Reston, Va., accepts the secretary of defense certificate for outstanding employees with disabilities from Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness David S.C. Chu. Like his parents, brother and sister, Siudzinski has been deaf since birth. Throughout his 22 years of federal employment, he has worked to break down barriers and find ways to communicate with his team and his management through e-mail, interpreters and relay operators. The 23rd Annual DoD Disability Awards Ceremony was held Dec. 9 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bethesda, Md. Photo by K.L. Vantran.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageMichael B. Dell, Jr., an auditor with the DoD Office of the Inspector General in Cleveland, accepts the secretary of defense certificate for outstanding employees with disabilities from Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness David S.C. Chu. Dell experiences progressive loss of vision because of retinitis pigmentosa that was diagnosed when he was 14 years old. He plays "beep baseball," a modified version of the game for people who are blind or visually impaired. His team, the Cleveland Scrappers, finished the year with a 5-1 record. The 23rd Annual DoD Disability Awards Ceremony was held Dec. 9 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bethesda, Md. Photo by K.L. Vantran.  
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