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DoD Exceeds Goals for Hiring People with Disabilities

By K.L. Vantran
American Forces Press Service

BETHESDA, Md., Dec. 10, 2003 – The Defense Department has exceeded its goals to hire people with disabilities for the last three years, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Civilian Personnel Policy Ginger Groeber said here Dec. 9.

By the end of fiscal 2003, DoD had hired 18,076 people with qualified disabilities against a goal of 17,245, she told those assembled at the Hyatt Regency Hotel for the 23rd Annual DoD Disability Awards Ceremony and 16th Annual DoD Disability Forum.

"That's a phenomenal rate of increase for us -- that's 105 percent of our goal," she said as the audience applauded. "And we're not stopping there."

DoD hopes to hire 7,189 employees with disabilities in fiscal 2004, and 7,357 more in fiscal 2005, she said.

"There's no doubt in my mind the managers of the Department of Defense will indeed meet these goals," said Groeber, who faced losing her eyesight five years ago.

In July 2000, the president signed an executive order that allows the federal government to hire 100,000 qualified individuals with disabilities over five years. In conjunction with this, the secretary of defense took on the challenge of filling 32,000 positions with people with qualified disabilities.

The secretary's memo, said Groeber, asked department leaders to redouble efforts to eliminate barriers to the hiring and advancement of qualified individuals with disabilities, and to increase their opportunities for employment and advancement. It also asked leaders to make special efforts to provide opportunities for those qualified individuals with severe disabilities targeted in affirmative action programs.

To accomplish this, military departments and defense agencies have aggressively pursued recruitment efforts that help identify and target people with disabilities for DoD jobs, she added.

"In addition, we've sent letters to over 250 colleges and universities identifying that we are looking for college graduates who have qualified disabilities to come work for us," said Groeber. "In fact we're sending executives and general officers back to the schools from which they graduated to recruit people with disabilities as well as individuals who do not need assistance to come work for this department."

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