DLA earns DOD awards for its commitment to employees with disabilities

By Dianne Ryder DLA Public Affairs

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The Defense Logistics Agency’s consistent commitment to hiring and promoting employees with disabilities earned it the best mid-sized component award for the fourth consecutive year in the 40th Annual Secretary of Defense Disability Awards Ceremony at the Pentagon Oct. 1.

DLA has won the honor 19 times based on performance in 10 areas related to the hiring, retention and advancement of individuals with disabilities. John Slone, a financial systems analyst for DLA Energy, was also recognized as an outstanding DOD employee with a disability.

“We are proud of our Department of Defense employees who serve with disabilities. They do not allow their disabilities to define them, as demonstrated by their passion and professionalism in the workplace,” said Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist.

“For some of us, the disability is small and the burden is light. For others, it is large and the burden is heavy,” he continued. “In all cases, we’ve had to adjust, but we are committed to making a difference and have all found a way to serve.”

DLA earned praise for increasing employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities and employing the largest number of individuals with targeted disabilities among DOD mid-sized components. It was also the largest employer of veterans with a disability rating of 30% or higher.

The agency’s use of Schedule A to hire employees with disabilities, especially Workforce Recruitment Program interns, contributed to its achievement, as well as its use of the Reasonable Accommodations Program to meet employees’ accessibility needs through technology and services. 

DLA Equal Employment Opportunity Director Janice Samuel said hiring employees with disabilities can profoundly impact their lives.

“You're providing care and support to someone who needs it and helping them to become more independent and confident in their own abilities,” she said. “Every day is a chance to make a difference.”

Slone trains DLA and Defense Finance and Accounting Service employees on the agency’s Enterprise Business System and is helping improve data mining tools to better measure DLA’s performance. He has worked at DLA for over 10 years and said he values the opportunity to use his financial skills and share his knowledge.  

“DLA is a workplace where I can focus on working with colleagues who have equal respect for all,” he said, adding that he appreciates challenges and realizes the only limitations are the ones people put on themselves.

Slone also believes the agency values collaboration and fosters morale and diversity while meeting the mission.

“We do need other people along the way to help us see that we can succeed in places where we previously thought we could not,” he said. “We know that when we reach out, help and support each other, everyone benefits.”  

Norquist said this year’s theme for National Disability Awareness Month, “Increasing access and opportunity,” should serve as an important reminder that DOD already has capable individuals – they just need a chance to prove themselves.

“As a department, it is incumbent upon us to ensure individuals with disabilities feel respected, valued and included,” he said. “How we leverage their strengths as part of our total force is critical to maintaining our technological edge and military superiority. Failing to implement equal opportunity is a missed opportunity for our workforce.”