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October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

  • Published
  • By Kevin Gaddie

National Disability Employment Awareness Month is recognized each October to commemorate the many contributions of people with disabilities to America’s workplaces and economy.

This year’s theme, “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion,” reflects the importance of ensuring people with disabilities have full access to employment and community involvement during the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sandra McBride, 33rd Aviation Maintenance Squadron unit programs coordinator, feels the program benefits disabled people in the government’s work force inclusion efforts.

The 25-year civil service employee was diagnosed eight years ago with systemic lupus, which affects her body’s autoimmune system.

“My doctor described it as an invisible disability,” she said.

McBride is eligible for all of the program’s resources.

For Glenda Sweet, a 96th Civil Engineer Group cartographic technician, the program is a good way to educate government employers about the options for disabled job applicants.

“As a person with disabilities, I understand the challenges that can arise when pursuing employment,” said Sweet, a 23-year civil servant.  “The program helps to break down barriers an employer may have considering a disabled person for a job.”

David Hartline, Air Force Research Laboratory Munitions Directorate miniature self-defense munition program manager, said the yearly observance draws attention to the employment challenges faced by the disabled community.

“The National Disabilities Employee Awareness Month is critically important for everyone, especially for blind people like me,” said Hartline, a 13-year civil servant.

Hartline said between 70 and 80% of all blind people in the United States are unemployed.

”We can ill afford to waste the productivity of educated and talented members of our society,” he said.

Here are the National Disability Employment Awareness Month events scheduled for this month:

Oct. 21 - National Disability Employment Awareness Month Virtual Lunch and Learn, 12 p.m.  For more information, call 882-1878 to RSVP by Oct. 15.  Limited space available.

Oct. 22 - Okaloosa County High School interviews, 1:15 to 1:45 p.m.  Eglin volunteers conduct mock interviews for students with disabilities to prepare them for entering the work force.  For more information, call 882-3215 or (850) 261-1519.