Gen. Ham challenges USAREUR community to employ disabled

In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, several key leaders in U.S. Army Europe lauded disabled persons for their continued perseverence with both working in and service to the armed forces.

“The strength of the Army workforce comes from its diversity, and persons with disabilities are another aspect of the diversity that makes our Army so great,” said Gen. Carter F. Ham, U.S. Army Europe commanding general, during a lunchtime event in Heidelberg Oct. 20.

Harry Connors, government relations advisor for U.S. Army Garrison Baden-Wurttemberg, also spoke at the event, telling how he struggled to overcome injuries he received in Vietnam so he could continue to serve.

“If you are or become, quote — disabled — unquote, you do not have to accept the limitations it seems to impose on you,” said Connors. “You can do everything in your power to overcome it and find ways around it. Society may say that you are disabled or handicapped, but you are only so if you believe them and agree with them.”

The event recognized those with disabilities who are currently employed by the Army, and encouraged Army organizations to continue to employ the disabled. During his remarks, Ham cited examples of senior leaders and other members of the Army workforce who overcame disabilities and continued to serve and perform their duties successfully.

“These are single examples of individuals who refused to be deterred by their physical disability,” Ham said. “They have not given in to the disability; in fact, they have answered the question for themselves … ‘What is it that I can do?’, and they have pursued those goals.”

Ham encouraged the Army in Europe community to give equal consideration to people with physical disabilities when filling job vacancies.

“Provide the opportunities, raise your expectations, and allow those with disabilities to fully participate in your organization,” said Ham. “Our Army has a long tradition in leading the nation in change such as this, and now it’s our opportunity to lead the way for all of America to show that Americans with disabilities can and will exceed all expectations. Our job — all of our jobs — is to provide that opportunity.”