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Initiative to help injured troops gets startup funding.

DOD has startup funding For a new initiative for service members injured in the global war on terrorism, a senior official said recently.

"We're looking at possibilities for internships and other types of trial employment", John M. Molino told attendees at the 17th DOD Disability Forum. "We're also looking at possibilities for mentoring.

"We intend for every injured or disabled veteran to have as many opportunities as he or she needs to achieve his or her maximum potential on active duty or in our civilian work force," said Molino, the acting Deputy Undersecretary for Equal Opportunity. "We are here for the people who fight to protect us."

In addition, the department is continuing and expanding its other efforts on behalf of people with disabilities, Molino noted.

He told the group that DOD will continue using initiatives that have worked well in the past, such as the Workforce Recruitment Program for College Students with Disabilities, which is co-sponsored with the Labor Department.

He pointed out that each year, the Office of the Secretary of Defense funds about 200 summer jobs through the college recruitment program.

"In the past 10 years, we've been able to document almost 2,000 hires (1,833) at DOD activities around the world," Molino noted. "In FY04, we hired 248 persons. In mid-March 2005, we'll release a CD-ROM with information concerning 2,000 students and recent graduates with disabilities who are looking for summer or permanent positions."

He advised conferees to get in touch with their component's disability program manager or DOD's administrative coordinator for the workforce recruitment program to find out how to benefit from the program.

Molino also encouraged conferees to participate in the DOD "e-mentoring" program for disabled students.

"The mentors are volunteers from our civilian workforce and the military services," he pointed out. "This year, 50 students signed up. The matches have now been made, but we continue to need volunteers. Student goals and interests are phenomenally varied, so we need mentors in a very broad range of occupations."

The DOD Computer/ Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) is another program Molino highlighted. It provides technology to make facilities, programs and activities usable for disabled workers at no cost to the requesting organization.

"This program now serves active-duty members of the military services and civilian employees," Molino said. "It provides real solutions for real people by eliminating barriers in the electronic environment.

"Legislation a few years ago authorized us to serve the entire federal community," he said. "Last year, CAP supplied more than 5,500 accommodations to DOD organizations and partner agencies outside DOD."

According to Molino, DOD welcomes Americans with disabilities in its civilian workforce, increasingly in the military services, and in its facilities, programs and activities worldwide.

Story by Rudi Williams, who is assigned to American Forces Press Service, Alexandria, Va.
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Author:Williams, Rudi
Publication:All Hands
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2005
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