By Michelle Bridges, SRF-JRMC Corporate Communications
YOKOSUKA, Japan (Oct. 20, 2017) – Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center held a celebration for National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) with a guest speech about veterans’ disability compensation, followed by a ceremonial cake-cutting.
This national campaign is observed annually to educate the public about disability employment issues and to celebrate the contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. This year’s NDEAM theme is: “Inclusion Drives Innovation.”
“It is a chance to inform everyone of the opportunities available to them once they have been certified as disabled,” said Ricky Farris, command, control, communications, computers and intelligence systems division branch head and guest speaker.
During the command event, Farris spoke about veterans affairs (VA) disability compensation. In order to qualify for the monthly tax-free benefit, a veteran must be at least 10 percent disabled because of a disease or injury that was incurred in, or aggravated during, active duty, active duty training, or reserves training. A disability can be a physical or mental condition, such as chronic knee pain or post-traumatic stress disorder.
“The subject (of disability rights) has come a long ways since I retired from the Navy 25 years ago,” Farris said. “This is a topic of most retirement and separation classes now. But, there are still many who don’t realize just how much this can do for them. Every service member discharged in other than dishonorable conditions qualifies for VA certification.”
Farris also explained that the Veterans of Foreign Wars, an organization made up of U.S. military veterans who served in wars, campaigns and expeditions on foreign soil or hostile waters, can assist Sailors who wish to file a claim.
NDEAM’s origins date back to 1945, when the U.S. Congress enacted a law declaring the first week of October as National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week. The world “physically” was removed in 1962 to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities.
In 1988, Congress extended the week into a month, changing the name to what it is today.
There are two VA-certified service officers in the Pacific, one of whom is assigned to Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1054 in Yokosuka. Service officers can assist with the initial claim process and follow up on an outstanding claim.