By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (Oct. 20, 2022) -- An array of problem-solvers, leaders and exceptional performers were today recognized by the Defense Department as part of the 42nd Annual DOD Disability Awards.
"Today, we celebrate the core element of our unmatched strength as a military and Department of Defense -- our people," said Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen H. Hicks. "Maintaining that strength requires tapping into every reservoir of talents and skills that America has to offer. That includes people with disabilities -- who bring so much to this department through their talents, skills, education and motivation to serve."
This year's awards ceremony, held virtually online, recognized four departmental components and 28 civilian and military personnel. Among those are engineers, analysts, instructors, machinists, IT specialists, human resources managers and software developers, Hicks said.
"In nominating them for these awards, many of their leaders described them as out-of-the-box thinkers, innovative problem-solvers, natural leaders and exceptional performers -- exactly the kinds of qualities we need to win the competition for the 21st century," Hicks said.
The deputy secretary said efforts such as the Wounded Warrior program, Operation Warfighter, and the Workforce Recruitment Program allow the department to continue bring in the right kind of talent, and to benefit from the skills and patriotism of all Americans, including those with disabilities.
"These programs have been instrumental in increasing the number of people with disabilities who are serving their country, in a wide range of critical jobs throughout the department," she said.
The efforts of the individuals and military components recognized, Hicks said, are completely in line with the goals set by leadership at the highest levels of the Defense Department.
[Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III] and I are committed to making sure DOD draws from all of America's many and diverse strengths -- and that in so doing, we also reflect the nation we're sworn to defend," she said. "Their work has also been exemplary -- implementing model programs, policies and practices that we encourage other components to adopt and expand, so that every part of our department benefits from the unique talents and skills that people with disabilities bring to the table."
42nd Annual DOD Disability Awards Individual Recipients:
-- Air Force Staff Sgt. Lewis C. Drake, a security control supervisor at Kirkland Air Force Base, New Mexico
-- Air Force civilian Beau Robert Chastain, an explosive ordnance disposal instructor at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas
-- Navy civilian George I. Moore, an operations analyst with Strategic Systems Programs
Navy civilian Allen R. Naugle, a facilities engineer and strategic planner at the Naval Surface Warfare Center - Crane Division, Crane, Indiana
-- Navy civilian Steven R. Sabol, chief audit director with the assistant secretary of the Navy's energy, installations, and environment office
-- Navy civilian Dayne K. Seminara, a machinist with Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command, Hawaii
-- Navy civilian Antoinette L. Teixeira, and information technology specialist with Naval Information Warfare Center -- Pacific
-- Navy civilian Wendy S. Brooks, acting corporate business office division head with Naval Sea Systems Command
-- Navy civilian Christopher J. Caltrider, a management and program analyst with Naval Supply Systems Command Weapon Systems Support
-- Navy civilian Mario Cardoza, a systems engineer with Naval Sea Systems Command
-- Navy civilian Steven L. Elliott, the medical supply director for Naval Special Warfare Group One
-- Marine Corps civilian Jose R. Inoa-Jovine, an information technology specialist with United States Marine Corps Training and Education Command
-- Navy civilian Doreen M. Laub, a training Manager with Naval Supply Systems Command
-- Army Sgt. 1st Class Robert Brown
-- Army civilian Norvel C. Turner, safety and occupational health manager with U.S. Army Central Command
-- Army civilian Robert C. Bender, a live training systems program specialist with U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command
-- Army civilian Kenlyn W. Evelyn, a human resource specialist and Functional Area 40 force manager with U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command
-- Army civilian Diana Guevara, an accounting technician with the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York
-- Army civilian April S. Pellegrino, an administrative specialist and operations officer with U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command
-- Defense Commissary Agency civilian Rachel Blanchard
-- Defense Logistics Agency civilian Steven Chu, a management and program analyst with the Defense Logistics Agency
-- Defense Finance Accounting Service civilian Amy Umhoefer, the lead accountant for departmental reporting within the accounting operations directorate at DFAS --Indianapolis
-- Defense Contract Management Agency civilian Teresa Szawlowski, the contract administrator for DCMA Chicago
-- DOD Education Activity civilian Rene Samreth, the lead licensing analyst for the DoDEA Americas Southeast District
-- Army and Air Force Exchange Service civilian Freddie K. Sheldon, a customer experience associate at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri
-- Defense Contract Audit Agency civilian Cristy Campbell
-- Washington Headquarters Services civilian Catherine L. Russo, lead American Sign Language interpreter
-- Washington Headquarters Services civilian Channelle M. Heth, a human resources specialist at WHS
42nd Annual DOD Disability Awards Component Recipients:
-- The Department of the Air Force is recognized with the Secretary of Defense Award for the Best Military Department for Achievement in Advancing Employment Opportunities for Individuals with Disabilities.
-- The Defense Logistics Agency is recognized with the Secretary of Defense Award for Best Mid-Sized Component for Achievements in Advancing Employment Opportunities for Individuals with disabilities.
-- The National Security Agency is recognized with the Secretary of Defense Award for Best Intelligence Component Award.
-- The Department of Defense Office of Inspector General is recognized with the Secretary of Defense Award for Best Small-Sized Component for Achievements in Advancing Employment Opportunities for Individuals with Disabilities.