The Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support hosted a virtual National Disability Employment Awareness Expo and AbilityOne Day Oct. 28 in Philadelphia.
Members of DLA Troop Support, Aviation, and Land and Maritime joined with representatives from the National Industries for the Blind, SourceAmerica and AbilityOne to recognize contributions the disabled community have made to their organizations.
The AbilityOne program provides employment opportunities for people who are blind or have significant disabilities in the manufacturing and delivery of products and services to the federal government.
In fiscal 2020, DLA Troop support procured nearly $325 million worth of goods and services through the program, a fact that executive director William Kenny said he was glad for.
“I am proud to say DLA is a strong supporter of organizations providing opportunities for persons with disabilities,” he said. “Today’s event helps bring awareness to those organizations as well as the products and services provided to our warfighters by companies who employ the blind and Americans with disabilities.”
DLA Aviation acquisition executive Cathy Contreras echoed Kenny’s sentiment.
“Partnering with AbilityOne is a win-win situation for everyone involved,” she said. “It helps us serve as good stewards of tax payer money, and it provides employment opportunities for those eager to demonstrate their capabilities.”
The keynote speaker for the event was Curtis Harmon, a former Canadian Football League and the National Football League player who overcame disability and found success.
Harmon was born with a birth defect that stopped his left arm growing from the elbow down. Despite what some would consider a major limitation, he was able to excel on the football field as well as in the business world.
Harmon said hard work and confidence is what gave him the ability to succeed.
“It’s ok to be different or look different,” he said. “A lot of times, people will judge you on the way you look or act. They will put limitations on you, and that ok. You have to not put limitations on yourself. You have to prove them wrong. You have to figure out what you want to do, how to do it, how you can do it, and then it becomes a process. And then it’s just passion and determination.”
This year’s expo marked the 30th anniversary of the American’s with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.