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DoD Honors 18 Employees With Disabilities for Outstanding Work

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18, 2001 – Some of them are legally blind, some partially paralyzed, some are wheelchair-users, and one of them has epilepsy. But none of that stopped them from realizing the American dream or from becoming outstanding DoD employees.

"Their extraordinary accomplishments show the importance of broadening the circle of inclusion in the workplace," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in a National Disability Employment Awareness Month message.

Eighteen employees with disabilities were selected by their organizations from among thousands of DoD employees worldwide to receive secretary of defense certificates for outstanding accomplishments. This year's outstanding DoD employees with disabilities are:

o Jolanda L. Allen, deaf since birth, is a procurement technician in the Contracting Office at the National Imagery and Mapping Agency in St. Louis. She was recognized for outstanding performance in a variety of support services to contract specialists.

o Patrick W. Birello, a personnel assistant at the Department of Defense Education Activity in Arlington, Va., earned three outstanding performance appraisals and four on-the-spot cash awards in less than four years. Born with muscular dystrophy, Birello was praised for being "a self- starter with excellent computer skills who provides exceptional service to co-workers and applicants."

o Robert D. Brackin, a line item business manager at the Defense Commissary Agency, Fort Lee, Va., performs global cataloging of grocery items that helps ensure store customers get the lowest possible prices. Brackin was born with a number of birth defects because his mother contracted measles during pregnancy.

o Stanley Brown, partially paralyzed from a stroke, was honored for his contributions as a multimedia visual information specialist at the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington.

o Robert W. Bush was cited for "consistently superior" computer programming work at the Defense Logistics Agency in Columbus, Ohio. His most recent accomplishments include fixing several hundred mainframe Y2K problems that were missed by contractors. Bush has cerebral palsy.

o Emily A. Fryckman, an auditor with the Defense Contract Audit Agency in El Segundo, Calif., was recognized for mastering "many difficult and complex assignments during her 22-year career." Fryckman has lupus, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

o Robert M. Hattiger, a paraplegic, has received numerous awards during his seven years as a financial systems administrator with the Defense Finance and Accounting Service in San Diego.

o Tammy J. Johnson, deaf for more than 30 years, is a data transcriber at the Defense Contract Management Agency in Bellevue, Wash., cited for initiative, resourcefulness and outstanding ability in performing any mission given her. In addition to tracking agency purchases and expenses, she also manages mileage records of the agency's automobile fleet.

o Roosevelt A. McCoy, who is hearing impaired, cares for more than 300 research animals as a caretaker leader at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md. He was praised as "a creative problem solver who manages an impressive workload that continues to grow."

o Sheila M. Noel, who lost her legs in an automobile accident, is an employee relations specialist with the 81st Training Wing at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., who has received numerous honors and awards. She holds the Air Force Exemplary Civilian Service Medal.

o Linda L. Politz was recently recognized for her work as Combined Federal Campaign chairwoman and as a member of the Disability Advocacy Council at the Army and Air Force Exchange Service at Fort Lewis, Wash. Recently diagnosed with post polio syndrome, Politz has worked for AAFES since 1976 and is now a supervisory learning facilitator who guides co-workers in professional development.

o Patrya D. Richardson is the secretary to the director of program integrity in the Office of the Inspector General in Arlington, Va. She is the recipient of several consecutive outstanding performance ratings and monetary and time-off awards.

In 1995, her right leg was amputated above the knee as part of treatment for cancer.

o David Rosenbaum, a senior engineer at the Naval Sea Systems Command in Philadelphia, Pa., is a highly respected member of the Navy's maintenance community. A member of the Interactive Electronic Technical Manual Section, he is responsible for a variety of electronic manuals for combatant ships.

Diagnosed with muscular dystrophy in 1982, Rosenbaum has used a wheelchair since 1999. Among a host of other accolades, Rosenbaum consistently receives outstanding performance ratings and has been the recipient of several special act awards. This year, he's a nominee for the prestigious AEGIS engineering excellence award.

o Gail S. Sweet was recognized for outstanding accomplishments as the leader of a team of 25 military, civilian and contractor personnel who provide round-the- clock technical and functional support for two critical databases serving more than 600 users worldwide.

Sweet, a diabetic whose right leg was amputated below the knee two years ago, began dialysis treatments because of kidney failure last year. Her office provides a motorized scooter, and her work area has been modified so she can enter and exit with ease.

o Vickii Thomas was honored for many outstanding accomplishments as a medical records administrator at Irwin Army Community Hospital, Fort Riley, Kan. Among them was her "extraordinarily successful efforts in collecting disputed and previously unbilled claims from insurance companies."

Thomas is credited with collecting more than $200,000 since January 2001 when she was assigned as supervisor of the Uniform Business Office. Officials said without the money she collected, the hospital would have had to cancel valuable services for which no funds were available.

Thomas broke her neck in an automobile accident in 1965.

o Edward Weiss, a wheelchair-user with multiple sclerosis, is an information release assistant at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency in Alexandria, Va.

Even though he has limited dexterity in his shoulders and fingers, Weiss is an award-winning artist. With the help of a special computer program, he hand-tints photographs with oil paint. His work won first place at the 2000 Photography Artability Expo National Show in Malvern, Pa., and the 1999 Prince George's County (Md.) Artists Association Annual Show.

o Marilyn L. Werner, who has epilepsy, was praised for being "an outstanding employee" who has earned numerous awards for her work. An administrative assistant in the Defense Security Service Inspector General Office, Werner provides administrative and logistical support during inspections and assists with the planning and execution of other office functions.

She occasionally has seizures at work, but needs no accommodations to do her job.

o Cynthia K. Worley, who is legally blind in her right eye due to multiple choroiditis, was cited for outstanding customer service as an administrative services specialist with the Office of the Secretary of Defense's Washington Headquarters Service.

Worley, who reads with the assistance of zoom software on her computer, commutes over 200 miles to work each day in a vanpool.

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Related Articles:
AFPS News Article: DoD Honors Outstanding Disabled Workers

Click photo for screen-resolution imageJolanda L. Allen has been deaf since birth. She uses sign language interpreters for meetings and communicates day-to-day by sign language, e-mail and handwriting.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imagePatrick W. Birello, who was born with muscular dystrophy, is praised as being a self-starter with excellent computer skills.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageRobert D. Brackin is called a mentor and friend to co-workers and fellow employees around the world. He has difficulty lifting and walking due to birth defects. He has had one of his kidneys removed and a foot amputated.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageEven though he's partially paralyzed from a stroke, Stanley Brown enjoys creating fine artwork, furniture woodworking, and fishing.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageWhen he was two years old, Robert W. Bush was diagnosed with cerebral palsy due to a brain injury at birth.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageEmily A. Fryckman suffers from lupus and severe arthritis, but that hasn't stopped her from becoming an outstanding employee at the Defense Contract Audit Agency.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageA former soldier, Robert M. Hettiger is a paraplegic as a result of a spinal cord injury 18 years ago.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageDeaf for more than 30 years, Tammy J. Johnson recently had cochlear implant surgery in the hope of hearing some sounds in the future.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageRoosevelt A. McCoy is hearing impaired and uses sign language to communicate. He's praised for never hesitating to "pick up the slack."  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageSheila M. Noel is a double amputee who uses a wheelchair to get around. She enjoys antiquing, boating, skeet shooting and browsing craft shows.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageLinda L. Politz had polio as an infant. She is certified as a coach for four different Special Olympics sports.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imagePatrya D. Richardson's right leg was amputated as part of treatment for cancer. She uses a motorized scooter on the job because she has difficulty walking with her prosthesis.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageDiagnosed with muscular dystrophy in 1982, David Rosenbaum has used a wheelchair since 1999. He loves to fish in his spare time.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageGail S. Sweet's right leg was amputated two years ago as a result of diabetes. She began dialysis treatments because of kidney failure last year.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageVickii Thomas' neck was broken in an automobile accident in 1965. She uses a power wheelchair to get around.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageWheelchair-bound as a result of multiple sclerosis, Edward Weiss describes himself as "still single."  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageMarilyn L. Werner has epilepsy. She occasionally has seizures at work but doesn't need accommodations to do her job.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageCynthia K. Worley is legally blind in her right eye due to multiple choroiditis. She commutes more than 200 miles to and from work each day in a vanpool.  
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