The Proud, the Strong, the Many
Be proud. Employers need you!
Your skills, your career aspirations, your talents, your strengths. They matter as much now as they ever did, even though things have changed. They matter to you; they matter to our country. And they matter to employers. America’s employers need you. You have every reason to be proud!
If you’re new to living with a disability, you might be struggling with some of the negative misperceptions about disability you see around you. You might even have believed these yourself before you got your disability. Until you question and challenge these assumptions about what disability means, living with a disability will be a struggle. But give yourself time. Over time, most people with disabilities discover a new sense of strength—a new, deeper, and often better view of themselves. You have as much capability and potential as you ever did, even though things have changed.
There are currently about 61 million adult Americans—or about one-in-four adults—who have a disability. About 5 million of them are veterans. Nearly half of all veterans returning from the Gulf Wars have a disability. So, as a person with a disability, you are not alone.
The truth about disability and work
About 20% of America’s current workforce is working with a disability. They are in all careers and employment sectors. Research shows that, on average, employees with disabilities perform as well as those without disabilities, sometimes even better. The idea that people with disabilities can do only simple jobs is clearly not supported by research or experience.
Think you can’t do that job? Consider this…
Before you dismiss a career option because “someone with a disability could never do that job,” think again. Keep this in mind. When you’re working, you’ll have a right to a job accommodation. This means that you’ll be able to do the job a little differently because of your disability. Decide what you can or can’t do only after you understand what accommodations could be available to you when you’re working.
What is disability, anyway?
“Disability” can mean different things. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), defines disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Some disabilities are obvious to others (such as using a wheelchair, having impaired movements, or missing a limb). Others are less obvious (such as having post-traumatic stress injury, traumatic brain injury, or depression).
It's not about charity
As a veteran with a disability about to move from college to career, you are positioned and prepared to offer your knowledge and experience to employers. Employing veterans with disabilities is not about charity. For an employer, it’s about getting good people who can contribute to business success. Employers need you—your skills, your abilities, your talents, and your commitment.
 Hastings, R. (2008). Study compares costs, benefits of employees with, without disabilities. Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) website.