By U.S. ArmyNovember 10, 2011
As Army Medicine continues to seek highly qualified talent to join its civilian work force, a new member of the Army Medical Command team is promoting employment opportunities for people with targeted disabilities.
Reginald Toney is the MEDCOM disability hiring coordinator, a position recently created to help improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities, both Wounded Warriors and civilians, throughout the command and to reversing the persistently high percentages of people with disabilities who are not working but are ready, willing and able to work.
Toney's efforts are in line with Executive Order 13548, Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities, issued by President Barack Obama in 2010. The order focuses on increasing the employment of people with disabilities in the federal work force, including increased use of the Federal Government's streamlined Schedule A hiring authority for persons with disabilities.
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, targeted disabilities include deafness, blindness, missing extremities, partial paralysis, complete paralysis, convulsive disorders, mental retardation, mental illness, and genetic or physical condition affecting limbs and/or spine.
In Fiscal year 2011, people with targeted disabilities made up only .7 percent of the MEDCOM workforce. Joseph Harrison Jr., Ph.D., MEDCOM Recruitment and Retention Branch chief, said MEDCOM wants to increase that number and has an ambitious goal of exceeding the annual federal high standard, currently at 2.5 percent.
"The federal high standard is updated every year and we want to set that standard. We want to be the leaders," Harrison said.
To help accomplish that goal, Toney reviews all applications submitted by people with disabilities through the civilian corps medical jobs website and works with candidates to ensure resumes are complete, lists all the requisite skills required for a position and includes all necessary supporting documentation.
If an applicant is a good match for a position, he refers the resume to human resources representatives at various MEDCOM organizations including nine Army medical centers, 27 medical department activities and numerous clinics in the United States, Europe, Korea, and Japan.
If a candidate doesn't have the minimum requisite skills for a position, Toney will try to identify a better fit for the candidate or steer him or her toward other opportunities with State and Federal agencies and internal and external organizations interested in the employment of people with disabilities.
Toney also reviews applications submitted by people with targeted disabilities through the Wounded Warrior Program and the Army Civilian Human Resources Agency.
A former Army medic, Toney was recently hired through the disability hiring initiative after Harrison received his resume from the Wounded Warrior program. Like many Wounded Warriors retiring from the military, Toney was worried about his job opportunities and didn't know about all the programs available to help.
"I am newly retired. I had a Schedule A letter but I didn't really know what to do with it. Being a Wounded Warrior, you go through this battle of trying to find a job you can work in without causing greater damage to yourself. You feel like your job options are limited," he said.
Toney was excited to join MEDCOM and help people with disabilities gain employment in the command.
"When I heard about this opportunity, I jumped on it because it allows me to give back. I may not be active duty, but I'm still working for the federal government and I'm still serving," Toney said.
As an employer, Harrison said the most important thing the command can do to attract the best employees with disabilities is to assure them that our organization will genuinely welcome them.
"We must look beyond the disability and look at the individual's ability and capability. In other words, look at the things that make each of us unique and worthwhile," Harrison said.
Jobs filled through the Schedule A hiring authority may be filled noncompetitively and do not have to be advertised. Instead, a selecting official can select a person with a disability who has a Schedule A certification and is qualified for the job. People who are selected for jobs must be able to perform the essential duties of the jobs with or without reasonable accommodation, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management website.
To be eligible for noncompetitive, Schedule A appointments, a person must meet the definition for being disabled and must provide proof of disability and job readiness by a letter from a licensed medical professional or counselor at either a State Vocational Rehabilitation Agency or the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Service of the Department of Veterans Affairs. For a sample Schedule A certification letter, visit http://www.usajobs.gov/IndividualsWithDisabilities.
For more information about the Schedule A hiring authority and options for people with disabilities at MEDCOM, visit www.civilianmedicaljobs.com and select Jobs for People with Disabilities. Additionally, a short training video from the Office of Personnel Management, titled "Applying for Jobs Using Schedule A for People with Disabilities," is available at http://golearn.gov/HiringReform/applicant/hpd.htm.
To submit an application, visit https://careers-civilianmedicaljobs.icims.com/jobs/2013/job. Applicants don't have to apply to a specific opening but they must include the position or type of position interested in, a resume and proof of disability.