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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 494-02
October 01, 2002

DOD MARKS NATIONAL DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT AWARENESS MONTH

The Department of Defense announced today that it will mark National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October with ceremonies and exhibits at DoD installations worldwide.

This year's theme is "New Freedom for the 21st Century."

National Disability Employment Awareness Month has been observed every year since 1945 by presidential proclamation. The observance promotes employment of people with disabilities. Currently, more than 47,000 people with disabilities work for the Defense Department. 6,000 of these have severe disabilities targeted by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for emphasis in providing job opportunities.

The Department of Defense also co-sponsors, in conjunction with the Department of Labor, the Workforce Recruitment Program for College Students with Disabilities, a government-wide program designed to increase opportunities for the disabled.

"Each year, we hire more than 200 students through that program for summer jobs at DoD activities nationwide," said Assistant Secretary of Defense Charles S. Abell. "Many return to us after graduation as permanent employees in Defense careers, and we want that number to grow."

The Secretary of Defense will award certificates to outstanding DoD employees with disabilities and trophies to DoD organizations with outstanding programs for people with disabilities. Winners of these awards will be announced during National Disability Employment Awareness Month. An awards ceremony will be held in conjunction with the DoD Disability Forum on Dec. 3, 2002, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. EST at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bethesda, Md. Details on the ceremony will be announced soon.