Michael Reese, Army & Air Force Exchange employee, cleans up after customers inside the Post Exchange food court, July 9, on Fort Huachuca.

FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. -- Fort Huachuca's Army & Air Force Exchange is recognized by the city of Sierra Vista for going above and beyond. Last Thursday AAFES was awarded the Sierra VistAbility Award from the Sierra Vista Commission on Disabilities Issues.

The award honors businesses and organizations that have displayed a higher level or interest in accommodating and supporting either customers, residents or both with varying special needs or disability limitations over and above what is required by law.

AAFES was nominated for the award by the Exceptional Family Member Program for hiring employees with disabilities. AAFES worldwide has a goal of hiring 3 percent, but the goal on Fort Huachuca according to Cathy Ely, Fort Huachuca Exchange general manager, is between 4-6 percent. Currently AAFES employs 11 staff members who have some sort of disability. She said most customers would not know most were disabled.

Barbara Copeland, Human Resources technician, says many of their employees with disabilities thing but, I think I'm just doing my job. You know this is just part of my job regardless of who you are or what your needs are. I'm here to fulfill AAFES goals which is to fill our jobs as quickly and efficiently as possible and if you're looking for a job and you meet our needs then you're the person I'm looking for," Copeland stated.

"I'm not looking for anyone with special disabilities or anything. I'm looking for abilities and I feel each and every person have abilities."

Ely and Copeland use AIRES to provide mentors and coaches for those employees requiring assistance, motivation and counseling. Copeland says AIRES is a government-funded agency in Sierra Vista that helps individuals with special needs. Their mission statement is, "Helping people with disabilities live happy, healthy, fulfilling lives."

"Barbara and I wanted to go above and beyond because we feel that the disabled special needs are the people that we need to go ahead and target and bring on board because they need all the help they can get and we need all the help that we can get," Ely explained.

"We like to hire the best qualified people and if they happen to be special needs then that's even better."

To learn about job opportunities with AAFES go to www.AAFES.com, or call 458-7210 ext. 202/205. AAFES main office is located inside the Laundromat on post, and is open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16