AbilityOne, a federally administered program to encourage private-sector employers to hire Americans with physical and mental disabilities, recently honored U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks with its “Congressional Champion” award.
Brooks, who represents Alabama’s 5th Congressional District, said in a news release Tuesday he was humbled to receive the recognition for his work as a lawmaker, in particular with Phoenix, a Huntsville-based nonprofit company that employs more than 450 workers with disabilities in the manufacturing sector.
“An important part of Phoenix’s success in providing employment opportunities is the AbilityOne program, a public-private partnership that provides meaningful benefits to our community and our country,” said Brooks on the occasion of his recognition. Of the many rewarding jobs accomplished by workers in the AbilityOne program, hundreds of American flags are produced on a daily basis in Alabama by our fellow citizens at Phoenix.”
“It was a pleasure to meet with AbilityOne representatives at my office in Washington, and to hear from Phoenix employee Brian Sarkisian how the program has given him fulfillment and the freedom to live an independent life. I’m extremely proud of the work done through this program to further the job prospects for many hardworking individuals across North Alabama.”
Phoenix CEO Bryan Dodson, in turn, was effusive in his praise of Brooks, a third-term Republican originally from Charleston.
“Phoenix commends Congressman Brooks for recognizing the many benefits to society and people with disabilities that the AbilityOne program provides,” said Dodson. “We thank him for his continued support and commitment to helping people with disabilities increase their independence through employment.”
Despite years of efforts on the part of state and private agencies like AbilityOne — who has helped place more than 40,000 disabled workers with employers — unemployment remains endemic among the disabled.
According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 83 percent of Americans with a mild to severe disability is out of work. Among those who do work, the disabled are about twice as likely to be employed only part-time.