- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 30, 2012

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In the editorial “Holder’s ‘severe mental deficiency’ ” (Thursday), you dismiss outright the notion that people with mental illness or intellectual disabilities can be employed. On the contrary, people with all sorts of disabilities have long made valuable contributions to our society.

People with mental illness and intellectual disabilities — including many world leaders, poets, artists and scientists — work and thrive in all aspects of modern society. People with disabilities include veterans who bravely served our country and now have mental or physical impairments, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries, that they obtained in battle.

Moreover, the statement that other applicants will lose out from targeted hiring of people with disabilities is simply untrue. First, government agencies benefit from a diverse workforce with employees from a variety of backgrounds and life experiences, as do all employers. Second, applicants under Schedule A still must be qualified for a job in order to receive it; this process does not result in the hiring of unqualified employees. In order to affirm that someone is eligible for Schedule A employment, the person must have a qualifying and documented disability supported by records from a doctor.

Unfortunately, people with disabilities traditionally have been shut out of the work place regardless of their qualifications, resulting in an unemployment rate almost double that of the general population. Instead of further stigmatizing people with disabilities with offensive language and accusations of corruption, we should be praising them for wanting to work and supporting employers who do the right thing by hiring them.

CURTIS L. DECKER

Executive director

National Disability Rights Network

Washington

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