Celebrating 74 years of inclusion, the III Corps and Fort Hood Equal Employment Opportunity Office hosted its annual National Disability Employment Awareness Month program fair Friday at the Fort Hood Community Center.
This year’s theme is “The Right Talent, Right Now,” which celebrates and promotes the contributions of employees with disabilities. The theme also encourages inclusion and emphasizes the essential role disabled employees have in America’s economic success.
“Every day, individuals with disabilities add significant value and talent to our workforce and economy,” Alexander Acosta, U.S. Secretary of Labor, said in a press release dated June 27. “Individuals with disabilities offer employers diverse perspectives on how to tackle challenges and achieve success. Individuals with disabilities have the right talent, right now.”
More than 50 organizations and employers were at Fort Hood to promote their services or programs available for Soldiers, veterans and spouses. Anna Videtto, disability program manager for the III Corps and Fort Hood EEO office, said the Fort Hood workforce is comprised of roughly 56 percent of veterans, a majority of which receive disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“If I can make a difference to one person, it will make it worthwhile,” Videtto said about the event.
She said the event was formerly held at the III Corps atrium, but due to its limited size and a large amount of organizations wanting to be involved, they had to expand to the Fort Hood Community Center. She added, although they have a lot of vendors, they turn some away because she wants to make sure the organizations truly support Fort Hood Soldiers and disabled veterans.
“Every year organizations contact me because they see the benefit of getting the word out,” Videtto said. “I’m happy about the support I receive, but I’m very selective.”
Event attendee Reggie Jones said he enjoyed the event very much, but worried not enough people knew about it beforehand.
“There are a lot of good resources out here,” Jones said. “I only wish more people knew about it.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 61 million adult Americans – one in four – live with a disability. The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 40 percent of Americans age 25-54 with disabilities are employed. Observed annually, National Disability Employment Awareness Month began in 1945 as “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” The name has changed throughout the years, until Congress settled on the current name in 1988, designating it a month for inclusion of all people with disabilities, not just physical disabilities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate based on an individual’s disability. The ADA requires employers to make reasonable accommodations, which may include providing or modifying equipment or devices, job restructuring, modified work schedules, reassignment to a vacant position, adjusting or modifying examinations, training materials or policies, providing readers and interpreters and making the workplace readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities.
For additional information, visit the Department of Labor’s website at https://www.dol.gov.