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Fort Rucker honors employee for exceptional service

Russell B. Hall, USAACE deputy to the commanding general, congratulates Sonya Barnes, safety technician for the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center, on being named the 2014 Employee of the Year with a Disability during a ceremony at the USAACE Headquarters Building Oct. 22. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Russell B. Hall, USAACE deputy to the commanding general, congratulates Sonya Barnes, safety technician for the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center, on being named the 2014 Employee of the Year with a Disability during a ceremony at the USAACE Headquarters Building Oct. 22. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Published: October 30, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (October 30, 2014) -- Fort Rucker officials strive to give recognition where recognition is due, and one outstanding employee got the respect she deserved as she was named the 2014 Employee of the Year with a Disability.

Together, the Fort Rucker Equal Employment Opportunity Office, the Special Emphasis Program Committee and the post honored Sonya Barnes, safety technician with the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center, during a ceremony in the regimental conference room of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence Headquarters Building Oct. 22 to recognize her exceptional civilian service, said Timothy Knighton, EEOO director.

“This is truly an honor for me and I just want to thank you (all) from the bottom of my heart,” said Barnes. “I’d like to take this opportunity to thank God for giving me power to accomplish the things I need to day by day, to thank my family who have been really supportive of me and have always stood by me, and I’d like to thank the people of my organization – I’d just like to say thank you.”

Russell B. Hall, USAACE deputy to the commanding general, was on hand to present the award to Barnes, and offer words of encouragement and congratulations.

“I want to commend you for your endeavors and your strength of will to continue to make things happen for us every day,” he said. “You’re an inspiration to all of us and I’m very honored to be here today.”

October was proclaimed as National Disability Employment Awareness Month in 1945, and since then the month has been an opportunity to pay tribute to the accomplishments of men and women with disabilities whose work helps the nation support the nation and by reaffirming the commitment to ensure equal opportunity for all citizens, said Knighton.

This year’s theme for the month’s awareness campaign is, Expect, Employ, Empower: What can you do? As part of the campaign, the Army Community Service Exceptional Family Member Program and EEOO hosted the Fort Rucker Assistive Technology Expo Oct. 16.

“Our theme demonstrates the importance of having high expectations for all individuals with disabilities, offering work environments open to all talents of all qualified individuals and encouraging people with disabilities to be empowered,” said the EEOO director. “To integrate people with disabilities more fully into every aspect of American life, our nation is working and taking the lead to advance greater freedoms at work, in schools, in the military and throughout communities across America by expanding employment opportunities and combating false perceptions — that’s a biggie for us.”

Hall said those perceptions are just that — false.

“I have the honor of knowing the fact that about one quarter of our employees have served with distinction — with challenges,” he said. “Over the past 14 years as a senior executive, I’ve had some 52,000 employees work for me, and I can’t tell you how many were with disabilities or with gifts, but I can tell you that every organization that I had excelled at what they were doing.

“It was because of the contribution of members of our team that made that possible,” he continued. “So, it’s not whether you have a disability or not … your contributions to our (organization) are immense and contribute every day to safeguarding our Soldiers, civilians and family members.”

This article was originally published at http://www.army.mil/article/137279/

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