According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest report, “Americans with Disabilities” (2010), 56 million Americans have a disability that affects their daily life activities, making up almost 19 percent of the population. Of that number of people, nearly 60 percent are unemployed.
For Americans with disabilities, having a job is a big deal.
People with disabilities who have careers is unusual and even more rare are people with disabilities who hold key positions of leadership and responsibility in their organizations. There are no statistics for these numbers because they are so small they are only identifiable in special studies.
Here at Edwards, Dan Osburn, Joint Strike Fighter Combined Test Force, chief engineer, is one of those singular Americans with a disability who is leading an organization. Osburn was recently recognized by Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Mark Welsh and his wife on their pass through Edwards last January. Welsh took the opportunity to recognize Osburn as someone who is dedicated to the mission leading the JSF test team with a positive “get it done” attitude. His leadership and technical skills compliment his ability to lead the development of the high-paced, fifth-generation F-35 aircraft to a war-winning capability.
Osburn said, “No matter what cards you are dealt with in life, you must always understand your challenges and develop a path forward to overcome these obstacles, so you may contribute at a high level in all you pursue. The main ingredients to successfully achieving this goal are persistence and determination with a positive attitude.”
Edwards will celebrate Osburn, and other people with disabilities who make contributions to our nation, during Disability Employment Awareness Month in October.
There are several events planned for the month around the Department of Labor’s national theme “Expect, Employ, Empower,” including a luncheon with keynote speaker Eric Lipp, Open Doors Organization executive director. Open Doors is a global disability education and advocacy organization based in Chicago, Ill. Lipp will speak on “Disability Rights are Civil Rights,” a message he has taken across the country and around the world, opening doors for people with disabilities in travel and tourism with airlines such as United Airlines and Southwest; and to places as diverse as Heathrow Airport in London, Kuala Lumpur Airport in Malaysia and Casa Blanca Airport in Morocco.
Additional workshops, articles, an Adaptive Technology Fair and Wheelchair Test days are being planned. The focus is educating leaders about the potential of employing people with disabilities and the process of how to do that in this time of constrained resources.
To volunteer, or for more information on activities scheduled for Disability Employment Awareness Month, contact Darcy Painter at 661-277-7527, Robert Cruz at 661-275-9256, or Master Sgt. K. Ross at 661-277-3810.