HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The Secretary of Defense presented the head of the largest directorate at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, with an award for outstanding service and notable achievements during the 41st annual Department of Defense Disability Awards ceremony.
Arthur Martin, director of the Center’s Installation Support and Project Management directorate, was one of only 21 servicemembers and civilians with disabilities to be recognized for their contributions to the DOD mission. The awards honor those whose attributes best epitomize the qualities and core values of their respective military department or DOD component, said Clarence Johnson, director of the DOD Diversity Management Operations Center.
“These individuals have found ways to streamline services, cut spending, and create a better and more positive work environment for us all,” said Johnson. “Their contributions have furthered the path to equity for individuals with disabilities and have strengthened our workforce.”
Martin, a below-knee amputee on his left side, oversees 31 programs responsible for executing contractual obligations totally more than $2.5 billion, one of the largest amounts for any single USACE district or division. Recent projects supported by his award-winning programs include the effort to restore power in Puerto Rico following the devastating storms of 2017 and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s mission to convert hotels, barracks and arenas into alternate care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Martin, who has been with the Corps of Engineers for 35 years, said he knew he wanted to serve the Nation from a young age. In high school, he dreamed of being an Army officer but was told by a recruiter that amputees were automatically disqualified. His guidance counselor helped him find an alternate route to serving as a civilian.
“I am satisfying my desire to serve, but it required a path,” said Martin. “This award speaks to all those who serve via an alternate path or continue to serve after sustaining a combat-related or other injury. This is for them as well as me.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 17.9 percent of individuals with disabilities were employed in 2020, compared to 61.8 percent of individuals without disabilities. Huntsville Center, and the DOD as a whole, is committed to addressing this employment disparity by providing opportunities and programs to increase the number of employees with disabilities.
“It’s important to recognize that having a physical disability or some other challenge doesn’t mean you can’t contribute,” said Martin. “People with disabilities have a whole lot to offer, a whole different vantage point that can really benefit the DOD.”
The DOD holds its Disability Awards Month each year in October, which is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. This year’s NDEAM theme, “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion,” reflects the importance of ensuring people with disabilities have full access to employment and community involvement during the national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/odep/initiatives/ndeam.