On behalf of an organization run by and for persons with psychiatric disabilities, I am writing to express my dismay at "Holder's severe 'mental deficiency' " (Comment & Analysis, Aug. 23), which seems to imply that people with mental or psychiatric disabilities are unfit for government employment.
The assumption of the writer that any person off the street with a disability will be shuttled into a government job is false. The memo referenced states: "a qualified individual with a targeted disability is a candidate who, based on his or her background, skills, and experience, would have otherwise been appropriate for selection for an interview, with or without a disability." While people with disabilities are encouraged to apply for these positions, in no way is a government employer required to hire someone unsuited to the position. The author should get his facts right before crying foul.
People with disabilities, despite their often more-than-adequate qualifications, historically have been the targets of discrimination in the workplace, and they remain among the most underemployed groups in the United States. This policy would go far to rectify this shameful history. It would give opportunities to people who have been frozen out of the workplace because of the way they look or communicate, or because of gaps in employment due to disability. Such a policy is long past due.
Director, National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery
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