LOS ANGELES--The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District recognized one of its own employees during this month’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month observance with a special video presentation.
The Disabilities Employment Special Emphasis Program committee highlighted Carlos Gomez, an administrative assistant who works in the Programs and Project Management Division, for his successful transition from the military to service as a federal civilian employee.
In his proclamation for this year’s observance, President Barack Obama stated, “Americans with disabilities lead thriving businesses, teach our children, and serve our Nation; they are innovators and pioneers of technology. This year's theme, Expect. Employ. Empower, reminds us that every American has a right to dignity, respect, and a fair shot at success in the workplace.”
“We observe National Disability Employment Awareness Month by paying tribute to the accomplishments of the men and women with disabilities whose work helps keep the nation’s economy strong,” said Mia Burroughs-Grady, the Disabilities Employment Special Emphasis Program manager. “The purpose of NDEAM is to educate our work force about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities.”
Gomez has worked for the District since December 2013. Because of his disability, he was hired directly into his position under a Veterans Recruitment Appointment.
Gomez began service as a combat infantryman in 2009 and was deployed to Afghanistan in December 2010.
“On March 19, 2011, while conducting a patrol mission, my unit was ambushed with RPGs [rocket propelled grenades] and AK’s [AK-47 assault rifle],” said Gomez. “My vehicle was hit by an IED [improvised explosive device] and blew into pieces, and took the life of my best friend.”
As a result of the attack, Gomez sustained multiple serious injuries as well as the loss of his right leg. He then spent two years recovering from his injuries in the Army Wounded Warrior Program at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas. While there, Gomez completed his resume and later submitted it to his squad leader, not knowing that it would eventually land him a job with the District. He was honorably discharged from service in January 2013 and was awarded the Purple Heart medal for his injuries.
Although Gomez sustained life-changing injuries resulting in his disability, he continues to exceed his personal expectations and physical limitations.
“I drive still, I cross country ski, and I’m certified as an advanced underwater scuba diver. Rock climbing, mountain biking, zip lining; you name it, I will do it,” Gomez said. “There is nothing I can’t do and I will continue to push harder with a prosthetic leg.”
According to the Army Wounded Warrior Program website, the official U.S. Army program assists and advocates for severely wounded, ill and injured Soldiers, Veterans, and their Families, wherever they are located. AW2 supports these Soldiers and their Families throughout their recovery and transition, even into Veteran status.
Cristina Toyama, a human resources specialist with the District, said the AW2 program allows human resources specialists to obtain resumes of wounded warrior candidates and recommend them to potential hiring officials without publishing a job announcement.
“The AW2 program allows me to view potential candidates and refer them to mangers who are seeking qualified candidates,” said Toyama. “This is one source that is available that allows us to extend hiring opportunities to disabled veteran candidates.”
The successful hiring of Gomez is yet another example of how the Los Angeles District’s Disabilities Employment SEPM is meeting the goals of the NDEAM.
More information about the AW2 program and job opportunities with the Corps of Engineers can be found by clicking the links in the related items box.