Disability awareness event held at JBPHH

Shannon Haney NAVSUP FLC PH Public Affairs

Service members and civilians from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam gathered for the Hawaii National Disability Employment Awareness Month observance at Sharkey Theater, Oct. 18.

Chief Master Sgt. Michael Andrews, superintendent, 647th Air Base Group, provided opening comments.

“Each October, we observe National Disability Employment Awareness Month,” Andrews said. “It is an opportunity to re-affirm the DoDs commitment to recruit, retain, and advance individuals with disabilities throughout our workforce and to recognize the important contributions American workers with disabilities make each and every day.”

Next, panel members spoke about their success stories at their organizations.

The panel included U.S. Pacific Fleet Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Hawaii Disability Employment program manager, Jennifer Patricio; Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) Pearl Harbor Disability Employment champion, Scott Hedrick; and Wounded Warrior Out-reach Program coordinators, Ron Wuestefeld and Fitha Dahana-Ellis.

“I have a physical disability that I was born with,” Patricio said.

Patricio, originally from Kauai, was a lawyer for nine years prior to joining the ranks of civil servants. One day she went to the State of Hawaii Department of Vehicle Rehabilitation to ask them for a new motorized chair and they asked her if she wanted a new job with the U.S. Navy. She learned about the disability program, applied and started her current position in August 2016.

“It is very rewarding working for the U.S. Navy and helping people with disabilities,” Patricio said. “I have a command that believes in the EEO program and that is critical to my success.”

NAVSUP FLC Pearl Harbor works with the Hawaii Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) to hire people with disabilities.

“Our program launched over 10 years ago to fill crucial vacant positions and to improve our overall number of employees with disabilities,” Hedrick said. “Partnering with the DVR has given us the ability to hire people of great quality and I challenge all hiring managers to reach out to DVR.”

“Warriors to Work” is a veteran employment program that provides career guidance and support services to wounded warriors, their families, and caregivers interested in transitioning to the civilian workforce.

“The program supports employers by helping them connect with qualified candidates, providing information and education about combat-related injuries, reasonable accommodations, facilitating a productive onboarding process, and developing a long-lasting relationship throughout the life cycle of employment,” Dahana-Ellis said.

America’s diversity has always been one of our nation’s greatest strengths. The Department of Defense (DoD) recognizes its vital role in advancing disability awareness in the workplace and as the nation’s largest employer, DoD employs thousands of workers with disabilities and remains diligent in providing every person opportunities for a meaningful career in a culture that embraces diversity and inclusivity.

Following the ceremony at Sharkey Theater, participants were invited to the Silver Dolphin Bistro Galley for a special meal and cake cutting.

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Category: News