National Disability Employment Awareness Month: Inclusion drives innovation

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Throughout each year, we recognize a variety of diversities each month that showcase our differences and our ability to use those differences to come together and work as a team.

October was National Disability Employment Awareness Month. This month provided a chance for us to show our commitment to recruiting, retaining, and advancing individuals with disabilities throughout our workforce. We also have the chance to recognize many important contributions that our disabled partners make every day.

This month we also get the chance to look at the history of this observance and why it is important. I hope that once you have finished reading this article, you will be inspired by how much hard work and dedication disabled veterans and employees showcase each day.

The history of National Disability Employment Awareness Month dates back to August 11 1945, with the signing of Presidential Proclamation 2664 which allowed people with disabilities to make contributions to the workforce regardless of their handicap. Since this time, we celebrate this month and used it as a chance to give our disabled partners equal job opportunities. Despite the importance of this month, we should always take the opportunity to recognize those who are disabled as equals every single day.

With disabilities in mind, we need to embody the nature of being equal partners with our fellow disabled brothers and sisters. Part of our mission is not just about getting daily tasks completed. It is about coming together with our fellow employees regardless of our differences. We need to be committed in recruiting disabled members to give them equal job opportunities. In 1995, the U.S. Departments of Labor and Defense established the Workforce Recruitment Program for college students who are disabled. Today it is a primary source for providing equal opportunity to professionals with disabilities and equal chances of having careers. As a force, we must continue to focus on hiring employees based on their job qualifications, not whether or not they are living with a disability.

No words can describe all of the great accomplishments that disabled employees have made in the past. A prime example are athletes who compete in the Special Olympics and win gold medals. You will also find them performing at a high level in their respective job fields such as civil engineering, administration, or information technology. Stephen Hawking is an example of one of the greatest minds to ever live and he never let his disabilities discourage him.

It should not matter if you’re disabled or not, we are all equal. We can all inspire each other to work hard and work together as a team. Personally, I am inspired by my grandmother, who lost both of her legs since I’ve joined the military. She is in her 80’s now, but is one of the strongest women I’ve ever known because of how she has persevered through hardship and her disability. She is truly one of my heroes. For this month and in the future, let us inspire one another to look past our differences to come together as one.