Reflecting a commitment to a robust and competitive American labor force, the 2019 National Disability Employment Awareness Month theme is, “The Right Talent, Right Now.”
Observed each October, NDEAM celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities and educates about the value of a workforce inclusive of its skills and talents. NDEAM dates back to 1945, when Congress declared the first week in October “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.
The Department of Defense reaffirms annually its commitment to recruit, retain and advance individuals with disabilities throughout our workforce. It also recognizes the undeniable contributions American workers with disabilities make each and every day across the nation.
Army Materiel Command observed NDEAM this year by recognizing two of its employees within the headquarters: Sue Povinelli, who is visually impaired; and Dena Brisco, who is hearing impaired. Combined, they have over 66 years of active federal service. Both employees served as presenters during disability awareness events held at AMC headquarters, and shared their experiences as individuals with disabilities working within DOD and the AMC enterprise.
Povinelli, a native of Virginia and a graduate of Michigan State University, performs duties as a human capital specialist in the G-1. She reflected on her career and likened it to a hike through the woods.
“The first fallen tree which I needed to climb over was loss of access to information. I started to lose significant vision during my early college years, in the 1980s. Like hiking through woods, you encounter fallen trees, rocks, switchbacks and cliffs that give the journey a challenge. But when you get to your final destination and enjoy the beauty, it was all worth it,” Povinelli said.
Brisco, a native of California and a graduate of Gallaudet University, performs duties as a staff assistant in the G-6, Business Management Division. Her entire career has been spent as a member of AMC.
“My time has been positive and rewarding while also providing me with a valuable skill set,” Brisco said. “It is my aim to continue to support the mission of AMC and the warfighter. I continue to be amazed and am honored that some of my co-workers understand and have learned American Sign Language to support me in my daily endeavors.”
Employers and employees in all industries can learn more about National Disability Employment Awareness Month – during October and throughout the year – by visiting www.dol.gov/ndeam.