In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden recognized the contributions of America’s workers with disabilities Oct. 26 on Clay Kaserne.
Guest speaker Kari Otto, Installation Management Command Europe chief of staff, spoke of the importance of valuing Army professionals who have overcome challenges.
“Strength can only be found with diversity; diversity of thought, skill, experience, viewpoints and ability,” she said. “A workforce of solely likeminded individuals delivers a status quo and complacency. It is in our distinct perspectives and experiences that we advance by reaching shared goals.”
Deputy Garrison Commander Doug Earle emphasized the importance of people with disabilities to the Army.
“Individuals with disabilities have served and continue to serve with courage and commitment as civilians and military members of our armed forces,” he said.
Observance organizers showed those in attendance how people with disabilities can be overlooked and that employers and coworkers should focus on what a person can do and not on their limitations. This year’s NDEAM theme was “America’s Workforce: Empowering All.”
Garrison Equal Opportunity Advisor Sgt. 1st Class Shannon Wyatt shared a brief history of the struggles of people with disabilities and how the observance month came to be.
NDEAM began when service members were returning from World War II with disabilities and National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week was declared in 1945. In 1962 the word “physically” was removed to include people with all types of disabilities. Then, in 1988, the week was expanded to a month. The nationwide campaign celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities and highlights the importance of ensuring all Americans have access to the services necessary for them to work, according to information provided at the event.