Becoming employed after acquiring a significant disability can be challenging. Depending on the level of injury, physical tasks are more difficult to complete. Additionally, education level plays into the possibility of being hired. According to a spinal cord injury research study published in 2010, people with cervical spinal injuries most likely need to have a four-year degree before the overall percentage of people that are employed begins approaching that of those with less severe injuries. However, for people with the most severe cervical injuries (C1-C4 of the spinal cord), it takes a Master’s Degree before the employment rate exceeds fifty percent.
My injury level is C5-C6 incomplete, which means I have partial paralysis. After graduating from college, I was hired at SPAWAR Systems Center Atlantic through the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP). The Program connects federal sector employers with highly-motivated college students and graduates nationwide.
Since working at SPAWAR, which is part of the Department of Navy (DON), I have participated in initiatives with the Equal Employment Opportunity Office to promote hiring of people with disabilities. It is the goal of DON to achieve a workforce representation of two percent of individuals with targeted disabilities. I’m working with recruitment managers, supervisors and other employees with disabilities to ensure hiring policies and procedures are accommodating to people with disabilities.
For more information about employment within the federal sector, please tune in to this podcast featuring an interview with Kathy Martinez, the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Disability Employment Policy in the U.S. Department of Labor: