WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 15, 2009) -- This month the nation observes National Disability Employment Awareness Month and the Army Wounded Warrior Program is focusing on efforts to help more disabled veterans find employment.

The Department of Labor announced "Expectation + Opportunity = Full Participation" as the month's official theme this year. The theme is intended to showcase the talents of workers with disabilities and a vision of a world in which people with disabilities have unlimited employment opportunities.

The theme "Full Participation" is in step with the Army's continued efforts to provide services for its own personnel and their families in the Army Wounded Warrior Program, according to AW2 Director Col. Jim Rice. He explained that AW2 provides support for Soldiers and veterans, whether severely wounded, injured, or those who become ill from their service.

To meet employment needs of the individuals it serves, AW2 established the Career and Education Section, "to help severely wounded Soldiers and their families find the path that is right for them after leaving the military," Rice said. "We help streamline the federal hiring process and build relationships with corporate America."

Soldiers in AW2 who medically retire can employ the Career and Education Section to assist them as they transition from Army to civilian life. Roberta Berry, career coordinator at AW2, notes that more than 105 Soldiers, families and veterans have been hired since the section was created a year ago.

Berry works with federal agencies and private-sector businesses who have expressed explicit interest in hiring wounded warriors.

In order to become an AW2 Employment Supporter, employers must identify, among other requirements, specific opportunities within the company, attend an AW2 new employer education briefing, identify mentors, and be willing to expedite the hiring application process, said Berry.

"It is an education process," Rice explained. The process involves discussing the challenges that wounded warriors face and what it takes to bring a veteran with a disability on board as an employee who has experienced severe injuries.

AW2 currently partners with about 25 entities, both public and private, to place wounded warriors.

For more information on AW2 or to become an AW2 Employment Supporter, e-mail AW2careerprogram@conus.army.mil.