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Release No: 557-95
October 17, 1995

Department of Defense honors Sixteen Employees at 15th Annual Disability Awards Ceremony

The Department of Defense honored sixteen employees with disabilities at the 15th Annual Department of Defense Disability Awards Ceremony today in the Pentagon Auditorium.

Also recognized, by award of the Secretary of Defense Trophy, were three DoD components for affirmative action planning that enhanced their ability to employ people with disabilities.

The ceremony is part of National Disability Employment Awareness month throughout the Department of Defense. Every year since 1945 the President of the United States has proclaimed a national observance in October to promote employment of people with disabilities.

This year's National Disability Employment Awareness month theme is "Profit from Our Experience." There will be ceremonies and exhibits at DoD installations worldwide.

The keynote address was delivered by Deborah Kaplan, Esq., vice president and director, division of technology policy, World Institute on Disability. A member of the administration's Advisory Council for the National Information Infrastructure, Kaplan holds a law degree from Boalt Hall Law School in Berkeley, Calif.; is treasurer and co-founder of the Alliance for Public Technology, Commission of Mental and Physical Disability Law of the American Bar Association and president of the Board of the Oakland based Center for Urban Family Life; National Governing Board of Common Cause and the Civil Justice Foundation.

Edwin Dorn, undersecretary of defense for Personnel and Readiness provided opening remarks and presented the awards for outstanding employee with disabilities and awards to organizations being cited for outstanding affirmative action programs.

Closing remarks were provided by William E. Leftwich III, deputy assistant secretary of defense of Equal Opportunity. Dr. Stephen C. Joseph, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Health Affairs, also delivered remarks about the DoD Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program.

Secretary of Defense William Perry has set a goal for DoD to increase employment of persons with severe disabilities from 1.3 percent to 2.0 percent of its civilian work force. As of June 30, 1995, DOD employed 10,039 persons with severe disabilities, which is 1.29 percent of a civilian work force of 780,309 (excluding the National Guard and Reserve technicians).

Perry asked for the full cooperation of every service and agency, and the continued resolve of every employee, to improve the opportunities and quality of life for Americans with Disabilities.

"In particular, I urge you to make use of the new Federal Recruitment Program for people with disabilities," Perry said. "We will make resources available to fill at least 100 summer jobs through this program in the Department of Defense each year. Many applicants referred through the program are also available for permanent employment."

Award Recipients were selected by their organizations from among thousands of Defense employees worldwide. Each received a framed certificate signed by the Secretary of Defense.

This year's recipients are:

George H. Bayer Jr., auditor, Defense Contract Audit Agency, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Charles Cooper, a military personnel technician with the Texas National Guard in Austin received his honor posthumously. Cooper passed away Sept. 10, 1995 shortly after being selected for the award.

Aubry Gene Eary, a sales associate with the Army Air Force Exchange Service, Patrick Air Force Base, Cocoa Beach, Fla.

Olic Elster Jr., mail clerk, Depart of Defense Education Activity, Arlington, Va.

Don H. Gardner Jr., Army industrial engineer, Redstone Arsenal, Ala.

Joel T. Gordon, accounting technician, Defense Commissary Agency, Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark.

Craig J. Hegemann, electronics engineer, Defense Information Systems Agency, Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

George Scott Higdon, cartographer, Defense Mapping Agency, St. Louis, Mo.

Richard A. King, program analyst, Department of the Navy, Newport, R.I.

Tamara M. Lewis, secretary, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Washington Headquarters Service, Arlington, Va.

Patricia A. Luken, voice language analyst, National Security Agency, Fort Meade, Md.

Kathleen B. O'Connell, contracting officer, Department of the Air Force, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.

Donna L. Starcher, auditor, Office of the Inspector General, Department of Defense, Arlington, Va.

David A. Stradley, intelligence technician, Defense Intelligence Agency, Washington, D.C.

Joanna White, investigative assistant, Defense Investigative Service, Richmond, Va.

Brian L. Zolo, computer specialist, Defense Logistics Agency, Columbus, Ohio.

Those service components honored for affirmative action achievement in employing people with special disabilities included:

Department of the Navy -- John H. Dalton, secretary of the Navy, accepting for the best military department for 1995.

Army and Air Force Exchange Service -- Maj. Gen. Ad Bunger, commander, accepting -- for best mid-size component.

Office of the Secretary of Defense, Washington Headquarters Service -- David O. Cooke, Director of Administration and Management, accepting -- for best small component.

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