Employees and industry partners gathered as the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support observed the 70th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month with the annual AbilityOne Day expo Oct. 28.
“(DLA Troop Support) hosted this event in an effort to increase awareness of the outstanding contributions people with disabilities have made to our nation,” said Army Brig. Gen. Charles R. Hamilton, DLA Troop Support commander. “Today’s event also serves to highlight the products and services provided to our warfighters by you, the companies who employ Americans with disabilities.”
According to its website, the AbilityOne program is the largest federal source of employment for people who are blind or have disabilities. Through this program, the federal government is able to receive a variety of products and services.
SourceAmerica is the largest employer of people with disabilities in America and provides products to include uniforms, food and first aid kits. They also provide services such as janitorial and document destruction to organizations like DLA Troop Support.
“It is a wonderful chance for people here at DLA to see all the good work that the AbilityOne program does,” said Steve Soroka, president and CEO of SourceAmerica. “DLA is amongst the top five customers in the AbilityOne program and we appreciate the support they have given to the people with disabilities.”
Marie-France Vareilles, vice president for products for the National Industries for the Blind, held an impromptu presentation, awarding a plaque to Steven Merch, a DLA Troop Support Clothing and Textiles division chief. Merch was recognized for exceptional contribution and support of NIB’s mission to create sustaining jobs for people who are blind.
“Steven Merch was recognized at our annual conference, and unfortunately wasn’t able to come,” Vareilles said. “I thought that this would be a perfect forum to recognize him within his own agency.”
Air Force Col. Patrick "Spike" Owens, director of Clothing & Textiles, said that this year’s event was magnificent and thanked exhibitors for coming.
“To every organization that supports us, that took the time and the effort to be here today, thank you so much,” Owens said. “This is an opportunity that we don’t get very much.”
Marsha Museka, Construction and Equipment customer relationship specialist, enjoyed meeting with the vendors as well.
“I got to see some of the vendors that we actually do business with; that was the best part,” Museka said.
The DLA Troop Support Equal Employment Opportunity Advisory Committee for Employment for People with Disabilities has held the expo for almost a decade.