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News | Oct. 27, 2020

DLA Distribution Commanding General's remarks on National Disability Employment Awareness Month

By DLA Distribution Public Affairs

National Disability Employment Awareness Month is observed so that Americans may reaffirm commitment to ensuring equal opportunity for all citizens and so that they may pay tribute to the accomplishments of men and women with disabilities who contributed, continue to contribute, and wish to contribute to making the nation's economy strong.

This important national observance dates back to the end of World War II. The return of Service members with disabilities sparked public interest in the contributions of people with disabilities in the workplace. The observance also highlights the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). With the passage of ADA, people with disabilities obtained expanded access to employment opportunities, including government and community services. Since then, our Nation has made great strides to create a more inclusive workforce and secure a future of purpose for every American. Due to these efforts, Americans with disabilities had the lowest annual unemployment rate on record last year and we continue to provide employment
opportunities for this incredible group of people.

DLA Distribution employs many hard working, talented employees with disabilities. Rather than be defined by disability, they are the sum of their many life roles—which includes working in jobs they love. Each person brings unique skills and abilities to a job. Equity, dignity, respect, and cooperation among all individuals are essential values in the Distribution work environment. As Distribution looks to the future and how we can utilize technology to modernize our everyday tasks, we are researching emerging technologies that enable employees with disabilities and all employees to work in new ways and in new environments. This month, as we recognize the talent and skill of these employees, I’d like to acknowledge and thank the Americans with disabilities who work for DLA Distribution. Their resolve and determination strengthen our country and inspire us all.

The DoD has an ongoing commitment to an inclusive Total Force, where qualified men and women of all walks of life can pursue their full potential. Together, we will continue to advance and promote an inclusive workforce in which everyone can provide for themselves and their families. Their achievements not only strengthen our economy and communities but also exemplify the power of every American to help shape the future of our country.

In the United States alone, 61 million people have at least one form of disability. From physical impairments to mental ones, these challenges pose limitations on their lives and the world’s accessibility.

The reality is 20% of People live with at least one disability, 35% of working-age people with disabilities are employed. Worldwide, 15% of the population (one billion People) live with disabilities.

Work gives individuals a sense of purpose and self-worth. For many, it defines who we are and is a source of justifiable pride. All individuals, regardless of disability, deserve the opportunity to be full members of their community where they can live, learn, work and play through all stages of life.

Many studies have shown that People with Disabilities take less unscheduled leave days, and they are more likely to stay on the job longer than non-disabled workers.

Employees with Disabilities can also teach their coworkers about creativity and other ways to solve problems or accomplish different tasks.

A key thing to remember as employers, supervisors and managers is to focus on the person; not the disability. When we were younger, like everyone, we were asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It was never a question of IF we would work; it was always the assumed path we would take.

Talent is talent wherever you can find it; its what people can do that matters.