News | Oct. 13, 2021

Defense Department disability awards ceremony honors DLA, individual achievements

By Dianne Ryder DLA Public Affairs

The Defense Logistics Agency’s commitment to hiring and promoting employees with disabilities earned it the best mid-sized component award for the fifth consecutive year in the 41st Annual Secretary of Defense Disability Awards Ceremony at the Pentagon Oct. 7. 

DLA has won the honor 20 times based on performance in 10 areas related to the hiring, retention and advancement of individuals with disabilities. The agency achieved the greatest increase of employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities and employed the largest number of individuals with targeted disabilities among DOD mid-sized components. 

DLA’s use of Schedule A to hire employees with disabilities, especially Workforce Recruitment Program interns, contributed to its success. DLA continues to lead DOD mid-sized components in converting WRP interns to permanent employees. 

The agency has a comprehensive Reasonable Accommodations Program that features a centralized means to request, fund and deploy accommodations, and a strategic plan to address accessibility challenges to meet employees’ needs through technology and services. DLA was recognized for ensuring accessible information and communication technology in the workplace. 

DLA Information Operations employees eliminated systemic barriers to accessing information and communication technology. A proactive plan uses dedicated resources to ensure adoption and implementation of accessibility standards, and created an information technology acquisition strategy.

DLA Information Operations was also lauded for Section 508 compliance achievements allowing clear, accessible captioning for deaf and hard of hearing employees when interpreters are not available. 

General Supply Specialist Aaron Wessman with DLA Aviation in Ogden, Utah, was honored as an outstanding Defense Department employee with a disability. According to Supervisory General Supply Specialist Michael Johnson, who submitted the award nomination, Wessman continually exceeds expectations, displaying a strong work ethic and positive attitude that increases his teammates’ morale.

“Wessman has played a critical role in the evolution of the Aviation inventory/stock readiness programs by personally reviewing and updating 10 standard operating procedures and six training programs totaling over 1,000 slides,” Johnson said. “His outstanding performance maintains DLA’s inventory in a ready to issue state at the customer’s fingertips.”

After a 5.7 magnitude earthquake in March 2020, Wessman coordinated the reconstitution and accountability of 12 facilities and their warehouse locations, ensuring the stock readiness of critical warfighter assets, Johnson said.

DLA Equal Employment Opportunity Director Janice Samuel said hiring employees with disabilities helps the agency build an inclusive global workforce.

“We have talented employees who demonstrate their talents and contributions daily, and we must continue to strive to create the advancement of disability inclusion and equality,” she said.