ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- The Aberdeen Proving Ground community celebrated the 15th anniversary of the AbilityOne Base Supply Center Program with an event held at the Aberdeen Area Office Eagle, Aug. 11.

The Aberdeen Area Office Eagle, operated by Blind Industries and Services of Maryland (BISM), is one of 140 Ability-One BSC facilities that provide mission-critical support for ongoing base operations and outfitting for military deployments.

At the event, Keith Tyson, an Office Eagle Associate from Bolling Air Force Base, opened the program by singing the national anthem. Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Jimmy C. Davis, from the 20th Support
Command, gave the invocation and Christina Davis, senior director of BISM, welcomed attendees. Frederick J. Puente, president of BISM, thanked the APG community for supporting the Aberdeen and Edgewood areas' stores.

"It takes the work of many to make this store as successful as it is," Puente said. "We are here to deliver customer service to the best people in the country."

Puente spoke to attendees about the important mission of the AbilityOne BSC Program. Puente said that more than 40,000 blind or severely disabled Americans produce SKILCRAFT® products and provide services that are sold to the government and U.S. military through the AbilityOne BSC
Program. Service-disabled veterans are actively recruited by National Industries for the Blind (NIB) for employment opportunities within the AbilityOne Program.

"Every time you buy SKILCRAFT® you are contributing to this country," Puente said. "Supporting the AbilityOne BSC Program saves this country money because they (the blind or disabled employees) are not relying on government assistance."

Ken Barnett, director of store operations for BISM thanked the Office Eagle employees.

"I have the greatest confidence in their capabilities," Barnett said. Barnett also thanked the Aberdeen Area store manager, Barry Councill.

"What he does cannot be done without total commitment," Barnett said.

Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Rodney Rhoades thanked Councill for his leadership.

"It is awesome to see that everyone is given a chance at this store," he said.

Rhoades then presented a plaque to Councill and his employees for supporting the APG community.

After the presentation, attendees were invited to stay to socialize and eat a variety of hors d'oeuvres and desert.

Councill said that he appreciates the loyal support of the APG community and that the Aberdeen Area store employs eight disabled employees and the Edgewood Area store employs two
disabled employees.

Councill added that in October, in conjunction with National Disability Employment Awareness Month, three blind or disabled employees from the Aberdeen Area Office Eagle will take part in empowerment training. These employees, Nicole Diseta, Ruth Borgman, and Andre Sconion will serve as co-managers for the day.

"These employees work great independently and as a team," he said. "This is a pilot program. I wanted do something different to celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month. I
know they will do a good job."