October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month - a month for reminding our fellow Airmen that working with those who have disabilities gives us an ability to see clearer.
Do you remember when you first learned fractions in school? Sometimes the parts were equal and sometimes they were not, but they still made up the whole. "My Disability is One Part of Who I am," is the theme for the month, an American observation in its 70th year dating back to the end of World War II. At the end of the war thousands of warriors returned with missing limbs, spinal cord injuries, burns, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), hearing loss, traumatic brain injuries, and other impairments.
A disability may only be one fourth of an individual, but what about the other three fourths - which need to be considered before drawing conclusions about a whole person? In the Holy Scriptures, Genesis 2:7, "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." Only 12 chapters later, the first war took place, which was initiated by Babylon where kings were incapacitated by cutting off their thumbs and their big toes.
The Apostle Paul ended his letter to the church at Thessalonica, 1 Thessalonians 5:23 with a closing prayer, "...We pray that your whole self - spirit, soul, and body - will be kept safe and be blameless." No one enters wars with the idea of possibly going home with a disability, or even worse, death. Although it happens in spite of prayer sometimes, the spirit and soul are renewed through reprisal of the enemy not being in vain.
God is a god of peace, but unfortunately, war is sometimes necessary. "For God is not the author of confusion but of peace." 1 Corinthians 7:15 There is no peace for the wicked in times past or in the future. It is God's desire that we respect one another, with or without a disability. Romans 8:16, "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirt that we are children of God." If we are children of God, then we are to not focus on our brother and sister's disability, but we are to focus on the whole person, that matters most to God.
Living with a disability is not only a challenge for the individual, but for all who interact with persons with disabilities. The National Disability Employment Awareness Month's theme for this year can be considered a strategy to rid the stereotypes, ignorance, and other barriers that hinder universal inclusion in the military, workplace, and in all parts of our society. We can now better understand how God enables all parts, even broken ones, that make the whole person complete.
For more information protecting Veterans with Service-Connected Disabilities visit: Americans with Disabilities Act www.ada.gov
; Equal Employment Opportunity Commission www.eeoc.gov
; USERRA www.dol.gov/vets
; Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/regs/statutes/4212.htm