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Cancer Survivor Earns DoD Recognition

By K.L. Vantran
American Forces Press Service

BETHESDA, Md., Dec. 10, 2003 – Alice E. Dickerson lost a leg to cancer as a young girl. Since then, she's survived two recurrences of the disease and she's now waiting on the results of some tests. If the news is good, she said, she plans to complete her master's degree in social work.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Alice E. Dickerson waits for the 23rd Annual DoD Disability Awards Ceremony to begin. She was one of 17 employees to be recognized as an outstanding employee with disabilities. The event was held Dec. 9 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bethesda, Md. Photo by K.L. Vantran.

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The position classification specialist retired in June with more than two decades of federal service. She spent the last three and a half years with the Defense Commissary Agency at Fort Lee, Va., leading efforts to restructure and reclassify positions to meet the agency's need for a multi- skilled, multifunctional work force. As a member of DeCA's Workforce of the Future Group, she was instrumental in setting goals for employment of people with disabilities, minorities and women. She was named DeCA Employee of the Year in 2002.

Dickerson said she didn't realize just how important the awards ceremony was until she entered the ballroom. "It's giving people with disabilities a chance to present what they do and to be recognized for it," she added.

Her career, at times, has been challenging, but Dickerson said she's been fortunate to have worked with some really good managers who gave her opportunities and support.

Not everyone, though, seems as supportive, she said. The Sunday school teacher said it seems that people are not as polite as they used to be. "Nowadays it seems that people are so busy," she continued. "They seem to be rushed, seem to be more uncomfortable (with people with disabilities). I'm not sure if it's (that they're) uncomfortable, or if they just don't have time."

Dickerson said she's run across people who openly want to help and those who seem to think that people with disabilities need everything done for them. Her rule is simple: "If you offer help and I say 'No, thank you,' then hopefully you will respect that and not be hurt."

An offer of help is fine, she said, but "don't automatically assume I can't do it."

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