AbilityOne Provides Life-Changing Opportunities for Returning Veterans The sacrifices made by America's brave fighting men and women often involve serious injuries. Veterans with newly acquired disabilities may face enormous psychological and economic challenges upon re-entering civilian life. These challenges are often compounded by the misperceptions held by some potential employers and members of the public. Change happened for David Kendrick, who participated in the Warrior SALUTE Program, offered by Continuing Developmental Services (CDS), an AbilityOne® NPA in Webster, N.Y. He was on the verge of being homeless due to his unemployment and service-connected disability when he joined CDS. Expressing his gratitude, he explained, "The CDS program gave me a second chance because I thought nobody cared about soldiers out there. It was really hard, and I searched everywhere, and nobody wanted to give me a hand. Without the CDS program, I would be out there on the street." In addition to providing vocational assessments, employment training and placement assistance, CDS provides individual, family and group counseling; fully accessible fitness centers and an aquatic center for therapeutic recreation, art and music therapy; temporary housing; and a variety of family-support services. AbilityOne Makes Concerted Efforts to Support Wounded Warriors The Committee, NIB and SourceAmericaTM (formerly NISH) are dedicated to a variety of programs that reach out to veterans with disabilities and connect them with local NPAs and other resources. NIB collaborates with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and connects veterans with job training, job placement and other career development services offered through its associated NPAs across the country. NIB's Wounded Warrior Program offers critical training in areas such as contract management support, business management training, leadership training and fellowship programs. NIB also participates in job fairs, special events and conventions on a national scale. The SourceAmerica Institute for Economic Empowerment conducted a two-year research project with the National Organization on Disability that involves interviewing veterans with Veterans Programs disabilities, employers and family members to establish employment interests and skill levels. Additionally, SourceAmerica partners with Military Wounded Warrior Programs, VA and other organizations to assist veterans. PCSI: A Leader in Hiring Veterans with Disabilities Professional Contract Services (PCSI) of Austin, Texas employs 294 veterans among its total AbilityOne work force of 1,120 people. PCSI coordinates with veterans programs to recruit veterans with disabilities for its AbilityOne contracts. It participates in the VA Wounded Warrior Program, the Army Career and Alumni Program job fairs and other veteran-related community activities. PCSI provides training programs and opportunities for advancement and assists in relocating veterans with disabilities and their families. "Many of these veterans performed the same or a similar job during their military careers as those offered by the AbilityOne Program," said Ace Burt, PCSI president and CEO. Participants of CDS' Warrior SALUTE Program get hands-on experience working on CDS' AbilityOne contract, packaging, fulfilling and shipping spices. Kyle Sill, Warrior SALUTE Program participant, fills spice bottles. Staff Sgt. George Lewis (Ret.), Air Force, operates a saw to cut paper for industrial wipes at Horizon Industries/East Texas Lighthouse for the Blind in Tyler, Texas. Lewis is a Vietnam veteran. Project HIRED Collaborates with Businesses to Employ Veterans Like PCSI, Project HIRED, San Jose, Calif., also recruits veterans to work on its AbilityOne contact center contracts. Additionally, through its Wounded Warrior Workforce Program, Project HIRED helps businesses leverage the unique advantages of veterans with disabilities in the workforce. The NPA's endeavors have led to substantial collaboration with organizations such as Yahoo!, Lockheed-Martin, NASA and Cisco to leverage the unique advantages of veterans with disabilities in the work force. Project HIRED's success stories are commonplace, and the success of the program has caught the attention of both ABC and NBC. Additionally, Project HIRED partners with K9 Coach Plus for its Service Dog Program to match veterans with disabilities with command-trained service animals. NPA Task Force Collaborates with Veterans Affairs In other developments, a task force of NIB-affiliated NPAs, rehabilitation providers and VA representatives convened in June 2010 to discuss outreach strategies to help veterans who are blind locate job opportunities. Participants included NIB, St. Louis Lighthouse, St. Louis Society for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Envision, AlphaPointe Association for the Blind and the VA. The task force plans a variety of actions to raise public awareness of NPAs and rehabilitation providers that support wounded veterans.