ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. - "This month has been designated for a national observance to celebrate and recognize the substantial contributions of our disabled veteran and non-veteran employees at the Anniston Army Depot," said Amanda Walker, visual information assistant with the Strategic Communications Office.

Walker is hearing impaired, so she didn't actually verbalize this during her welcome address Oct. 20 at the luncheon observing National Disability Awareness Month. She communicated to the audience through American Sign Language.

Depot mechanic Mark Haynes interpreted Walker's welcome for those who did not know ASL. Haynes served as the English-ASL interpreter throughout the entire program, which was hosted by the depot's Equal Employment Opportunity Office at the depot's Berman-Varner House. EEO also hosted a dinner during night shift operations.

The 2010 theme for disability awareness is "Talent Has No Boundaries: Workforce Diversity INCLUDES Workers With Disabilities." Walker and the other 303 people with disabilities at ANAD display this in their offices and shops each day through hard work and commitment to the job.

"Disabilities are things that you cannot do, but we can all give back when we work together," said guest speaker Dana Bowman, who reminded the luncheon and dinner audiences that it takes a team effort for each of us to accomplish what we want in life.

The retired sergeant first class is a former Special Forces Soldier and was a member of the Army's elite parachute team, the Golden Knights, when he lost both legs in 1994 during a midair maneuver. He and his partner Sgt. Jose Aguillon collided during a training exercise in Yuma, Ariz. Bowman's legs were severed from his body. Aguillon died instantly.

Less than a year after the accident, Bowman became the first double amputee to re-enlist in the Army. He retired from military service in 1996. Since then, he's received his bachelor's degree and works with amputees and other disabled people to show them they can excel under adverse circumstances.

Bowman's mantra - "It's not the disability. It's the ability" - has helped him accomplish many feats during the last 15 challenging years as a double amputee. He encouraged his audience to be mindful that a good attitude can go a long way.

"We all need to get out there and do more things," said Bowman. "The more you give, the more you get."

"With my family, friends and modern technology, I was able to give back," said Bowman, who is now a commercial pilot with Bell Textron Helicopter Academy. His presentation during the events on depot included video footage of Bowman waterskiing and snow skiing.

Pat Garrett, a forklift operator who was present for the EEO event, said her son has a prosthetic leg and that she understands some of the challenges Bowman faced after his accident. "That's what I tell my son, that you still have your brain and a life to live, so never think that you can't do something."

Depot Commander Col. Timothy Sullivan presented David Haynes from the depot's Recycling Center with ANAD's 2010 Disability Award. Bowman presented a Special Operations Command coin to Haynes and later to Kerry Kirby during the night shift's dinner.

"We are all great because of the differences we bring to the team," said Sullivan.

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