Congress has declared that each October will be known as National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
I missed it.
It is early November and I realize that the month of awareness is over. But as I think about it, it really isn’t over. It never is. When it comes to severely wounded and injured veterans, we should not limit ourselves to focusing on their employment for one twelfth of a year.
I can assure you they don’t. Their challenges continue every day of every month of every year, and ours should too. These young men and women sacrificed their bodies and suffered mightily for their country, and it is our obligation to lend them a hand to get where they want to be in life.
I am involved with the Wyakin Warrior program that offers severely wounded and injured veterans an opportunity to position themselves for rewarding careers, so the issue hits close to home. As I have met the veterans coming into the program, I have found myself inspired by their focus and motivation to achieve great things in life. They acknowledge their physical challenges and move on. Some of them will some day be leaders in their communities and professions, and when they do they will bring with them a maturity and perspective that few of us will ever have.
Disability has been a term that bothers me because it implies incapacity. The dictionary defines the word as meaning, “a physical or mental handicap, especially one that prevents a person from living a full, normal life or from holding a gainful job.”
I prefer the term physical challenge. I believe these men and women have the potential to lead a “full, normal life” and can absolutely hold a “gainful job.” Is it easy? No. Is it possible?
No doubt about it.
For those involved in the Wyakin Warrior program as a student or volunteer – and I hope for you too – Disability Employment Awareness month lasts all year.