The Right Talent, Right Now; DLA Land and Maritime hosts National Disability Employment Awareness Month program

By James Harless Land and Maritime Public Affairs

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Associates at Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime attended the 2019 National Disability Employment Awareness Month program on Oct. 23 in the Operations Center’s Conference Room to gain insight into the world of their coworkers who have disabilities.

The program was hosted by the Defense Federal Community Office of Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity. Associates were invited to take part in a panel discussion comprised of three Land and Maritime associates who shared associates their experiences, their disabilities, and the effects on their lives and careers. The panelists were Hugh Swanson, purchasing agent, Alice Ferguson, purchasing agent, and Paul Allen Gambrell, chief of Disability, Diversity, and Affirmative Employment Division, Office of Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity.

The U.S. Department of Labor announced "The Right Talent, Right Now" as the theme for the 2019 National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

The 2019 theme emphasizes the essential role that people with disabilities play in America's economic success, especially in an era when historically low unemployment and global competition are creating a high demand for skilled talent. The Department's Office of Disability Employment Policy administers NDEAM.

During his introductory remarks, DLA Land and Maritime Acquisition Executive Mark Brown spoke of the meaning of this year’s theme and the importance of ensuring opportunities to employment, education and equal access for all people, regardless of physical abilities. 

“I believe it reflects Land and Maritime’s dedication to creating workforce diversity through our commitment to promote increased employment opportunities for people with disabilities,” Brown said. “In fact, historically Land and Maritime has regularly exceeded national disability hiring benchmarks, achieving 15% during Fiscal Year 2018. And our strategy is to energize our hiring momentum to create even more opportunities.”

Observed annually in October, NDEAM celebrates America’s workers with disabilities both past and present, and emphasizes the importance of inclusive policies and practices to ensure that all Americans who want to work can work, and have access to services and supports to enable them to do so. With continued advances in such supports, including accessible technology, it’s easier than ever before for America’s employers to hire people with disabilities in high-demand jobs.

NDEAM traces its beginnings to 1945, when Congress declared the first week in October "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." In 1962, the use of the word physically ceased in order to include individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to NDEAM. In 2001, the department established ODEP and it assumed responsibility for NDEAM, which includes annual theme selection to facilitate advanced event planning by businesses and community organizations that support the employment of people with disabilities.