October is National Disability Awareness Month

  • Published
  • By Mark Wyatt
  • 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs
HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- National Disability Employment Awareness Month is celebrated each October to educate people about disability employment as well as to recognize the contributions of employees with disabilities.

"The committee is proud to be a part of this year's National Disability Employment Awareness Month," said Capt. Shane Boulware, NDEAM committee member. "We want to spread the important message that we value all perspectives, including those of individuals with disabilities.”

On Oct. 21 at 12:30 p.m., the Hanscom NDEAM committee will participate in the opening ceremony of the New England Sled Hockey League at the Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield, Massachusetts. The entire Hanscom community is invited and there is no charge to attend.

Reflecting on this year's theme, “Americans with Disabilities: Ready for the Global Workforce,” the committee will strive to highlight Hanscom’s commitment to an inclusive work culture.

“Hiring employees with diverse abilities strengthens our workforce and drives innovation,” said Angel Casaigne, a member of Hanscom’s NDEAM committee and a disabled U.S. Air Force veteran.

Casaigne said he got involved to recognize the work of disabled individuals at Hanscom, such as Ali “Leo” Hashem, the installation Freedom of Information and Privacy Act officer.

“My disabilities are the result of injuries I suffered when I was a military advisor and linguist for the Army in Iraq,” said Hashem, an advisor for the U.S. Army during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Since coming to Hanscom in 2016, he has worked for the 66th Logistics Readiness Squadron and 66th Communication and Information Division.

This past summer Hanscom participated in a program that connects federal and private sector employers nationwide with job-seeking college students and recent graduates with disabilities.

“The program provided two University of Massachusetts Lowell seniors with the opportunity to learn more about working for the federal government,” said Carmen Aguiar, 66th Force Support Squadron Workforce Recruitment Program manager.

Earlier this week, Col. Chad Ellsworth, installation commander, signed a proclamation recognizing October as the special observance month.

The history of NDEAM traces back to 1945 when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October as National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week. The word "physically" was removed in 1962 to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all type of disabilities.

In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Learn more about National Disability Employment Awareness Month at www.dol.gov/ndeam.