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Initiative to Help Injured Troops Gets Startup Funding

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

BETHESDA, Md., Dec. 9, 2004 – DoD has startup funding for a new initiative for servicemembers injured in the global war on terror, a senior official said here Dec. 7.

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The Defense Department is striving to change the world for the better for employees with disabilities, John M. Molino, acting deputy undersecretary of defense for equal opportunity, told the 17th DoD Disability Forum in Bethesda, Md., on Dec. 7. Photo by Rudi Williams
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image)

"We intend for every injured or disabled veteran to have as many opportunities as he or she needs to achieve his or her maximum potential on active duty or in our civilian work force," said the acting deputy undersecretary for equal opportunity. "We are here for the people who fight to protect us."

In addition, the department is continuing and expanding its other efforts on behalf of people with disabilities, Molino noted.

He told the group that DoD will continue using initiatives that have worked well in the past, such as the Workforce Recruitment Program for College Students with Disabilities, which is co-sponsored with the Labor Department.

He pointed out that each year, the Office of the Secretary of Defense funds about 200 summer jobs through the college recruitment program. "In the past 10 years, we've been able to document almost 2,000 hires (1,833) at DoD activities around the world," Molino noted. "In fiscal 2004, we hired 248 persons. In mid-March 2005, we'll release a CD-ROM with information concerning 2,000 students and recent graduates with disabilities who are looking for summer or permanent positions."

He advised conferees to get in touch with their component's disability program manager or DoD's administrative coordinator for the workforce recruitment program to find out how to benefit from the program.

Molino also encouraged conferees to participate in the department's "e-mentoring" program for disabled students. "The mentors are volunteers from our civilian workforce and the military services," he pointed out. "This year, 50 students signed up. The matches have now been made, but we continue to need volunteers. Student goals and interests are phenomenally varied, so we need mentors in a very broad range of occupations."

The DoD Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program, or CAP, is another program Molino highlighted. It provides technology to make facilities, programs and activities usable for disabled workers at no cost to the requesting organization.

"This program now serves active duty members of the military services and civilian employees," Molino said. "It provides real solutions for real people by eliminating barriers in the electronic environment.

"Legislation a few years ago authorized us to serve the entire federal community," he said. "Last year CAP supplied more than 5,500 accommodations to DoD organizations and partner agencies outside DoD."

DoD welcomes Americans with disabilities in its civilian workforce and increasingly in the military services, Molino said, and in its facilities, programs and activities worldwide, he added.

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Biographies:
Acting Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Equal Opportunity John M. Molino

Related Articles:
Policy Changes Help Wounded Troops Stay in Service
DoD Lauds Disabled Employees, Strives to Hire More



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