Defense Contracts a Key Source Of Work for the Disabled

By Lynne R. Harris
The AbilityOne program was created to leverage the purchasing power of the federal government to help people who are blind or have other significant disabilities and are unemployed or under-employed.

The Defense Department is AbilityOne’s largest customer.

Employment opportunities are created through contracts among a network of more than 600 nonprofit agencies and federal departments and agencies located in every state, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Committee for Purchase from People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled is administered by the federal oversight agency and two national nonprofit agencies — NISH and the National Industries for the Blind.

AbilityOne has been providing products and services to the department for nearly 70 years. Approximately 3,000 of the more than 47,000 individuals employed by AbilityOne are veterans. Many of them have recently returned from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Several major initiatives are under way to work more closely with the Wounded Warriors program.

Military battle dress uniforms and 80 percent of the chemical protective over-garments worn by U.S. troops, as well as equipage, load bearing equipment, special operations items and a portion of the requirement for the M16 magazine are provided through AbilityOne.

“The military is a long-term AbilityOne customer because they trust the program and recognize our abilities to support our soldiers,” said Bob Chamberlin, president and chief executive officer of NISH.

Topics: Health Affairs

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