USAG YONGSAN, South Korea -- The National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) commemorative ceremony was held at the Dragon Hill Lodge's Naija Ballroom, Oct. 27.
Around 150 Soldiers and civilians from various backgrounds attended the ceremony. The event inspired and educated them on what a Soldier or a civilian with a disability can do with the right tools.
This year, Eighth Army invited Stephen M. King, Director of Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) at the Department of Defense (DoD), as the guest speaker. CAP is a centrally funded DoD program that provides free assistive technology and training to wounded service members and employees with disabilities at 68 partnering federal agencies.
According to King, CAP has provided over 100,000 accommodations in its 25 years of history. "We want to make people aware of our accomplishments and aware of what people with disabilities can do if they are given the opportunities and right tools," King said. "It will give you a new perspective."
He also emphasized the importance of focusing on disability employment issues not only in October, but also throughout the year. "Although we may shine a spotlight on them on October because there was a proclamation from the President, it is really something the Department of Defense finds extremely important as the nation's largest employer and we truly focus on it year-round."
One way to focus on disability employment is to thank those who participate in it, according to Col. Peter J. Lane, Eighth Army Deputy Chief of Staff. Lane presented the Workforce Recruitment Program Awards to various civilians. "It was a phenomenal opportunity to recognize all the great efforts that our employees are making to accommodate people with disabilities that work for Eighth Army," he said.
Taking ownership of our individual and collective responsibilities, and being part of an Eighth Army that is growing stronger with Soldiers, families, and units never felt better. As Ms. Latonia H. Grant, Eighth Army G8 said, "I'm just glad to be part of it."
NDEAM's roots go back to 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." In 1962, the word "physically" was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to "National Disability Employment Awareness Month."