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Secretary of Defense hosts 36th Annual Disability Awards Ceremony

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter awarded today 18 DoD employees and five DoD components or military departments the Outstanding DoD Service Members and Civilians with a Disability Award - the highest honor the department gives to recognize the contributions of disabled employees. 

The yearly Pentagon ceremony honors outstanding servicemembers and civilian employees with disabilities for their contributions in support of the DoD mission and recognizes exemplary department organizations for their efforts to advance a diverse and inclusive workforce.  

"We need to keep our military edge as sharp as possible.  And our awardees today – these fine individuals and these departments and components – are doing just that,” said Secretary Carter. "We need a department where everyone who can serve and wants to serve has the full and equal opportunity to do so. Anything less isn’t just plain wrong; it’s bad defense policy, and it puts our future strength at risk.”

The 2016 individual awardees are: 

Joseph C. Atalig, logistics management specialist, United States Army, Fort Sam Houston, Texas 

Deborah S. Worek, budget officer, United States Army, Fort Belvoir, Virginia

Scott M. Zessin, geographer, United States Army, Omaha, Nebraska 

Alec E. Forsman, Atlantic test range photogrammetrics team lead, Department of the Navy, Patuxent River, Maryland

Adam Jonathan LeBlanc, staff sergeant, USMC, Department of the Navy, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina

Christina D. Pate, inventory management specialist, NT04, Department of the Navy, Panama City, Florida 

Technical Sergeant Jason Caswell, crew chief, E-6, 19th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, United States Air Force, Little Rock, Arkansas 

Mr. Robert A. Schenk Jr., installation deployment officer, Department of the Air Force

Hiromi N. Allen, regular part-time supervisory store assistant, Army and Air Force Exchange Service, Spokane, Washington 

Kevin K. Truong, senior auditor, Defense Contract Audit Agency, New York, New York

Jacqueline Spiller, store associate, Defense Commissary Agency, Kansas City, Missouri

Eric James “EJ” Belliveau, software specialist, Defense Contract Management Agency

Kenneth William Kramer, accountant, Defense Finance and Accounting Service, Indianapolis, Indiana 

Major Timothy P. Tatem, support division, Defense Intelligence Agency, Reston, Virginia 

Frank E. Moses Jr., management analyst, Defense Logistics Agency, Fort Belvoir, Virginia 

Terry O. McMurry, assistant network operations center manager, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Fort Belvoir, Virginia

Jeremy L. Tuck, system software engineer, Missile Defense Agency, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama

Brent S. Hare, NSA, director of operations, National Security Agency, Ft. Meade, Maryland 

The 2016 criteria for used to determine the component award recipients focused on efforts building comprehensive and successful affirmative programs to recruit, retain, and advance individuals with disabilities including wounded warriors and veterans. The component-level awardees are:

Best Military Department: Presented to the Department of the Air Force, Deborah Lee James, secretary of the Air Force

Best Mid-Sized Component: Presented to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, Teresa McKay, director

Best Small-Sized Component: Presented to the Department of Defense Washington Headquarters Services, Barbara Westgate, director

Best Intelligence Component: Presented to the National Security Agency, Admiral Michael S. Rogers, director

Best Achievements in Ensuring Accessible Information and Communication Technology in the Workplace: Presented to the Missile Defense Agency, Vice Admiral James D. Syring, director

October also marks National Disability Employment Awareness month- a national campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities. More information on DoD’s observance of National Disability Employment Awareness Month is available here:

Distribution channels: Military