A group of Defense Logistics Agency Aviation employees, led by Army Lt. Col. Houston Baker, recently travel to North Carolina to visit Industries for the Blind (IFB), LC Industries, and Fort Bragg's Base Supply Center and Hazmat facility.
IFB and LC Industries are two of the largest employers of blind or visually-impaired employees.
"The purpose of the trip was to gain a better understanding of how organizations such as IFB and National Industries for the Blind (NIB) provide services to DLA and surrounding communities with a large number of blind or visually-impaired employees," said Michelle Turner-Walden, Electrical Components Integrated Acquisition/Supply Team Chief in Supplier Operations. "Those organizations provide employment to individuals who otherwise would not have the opportunity to work."
To emphasis her point, Walden noted that 85 percent of IFB's employees never had jobs due to their disabilities.
"The most impressive thing about the visit was actually seeing how the employees took pride in their work and never let their disability slow them down," Walden explained. "Each and every employee had the biggest smile on their face and appeared to enjoy how they contribute to the finish products."
IFB, established in 1936, has 410 Employees at its Winston Salem, N.C. facility who take great pride in their job duties and responsibilities and it shows in their work according to Walden.
IFB has 15 different stores across the nation. They also serve 27 hospitals and clinics and provide employment and service to disabled veterans.
LC Industries, the group's second stop, has been in business for 75 years with 10 years of growth, according to Walden.
"They currently operate in over 1 million square feet of manufacturing, distribution, and retail space with nine manufacturing facilities, two distribution centers and 31 base supply center retail locations with over 2,600 products that support U.S. troops nation- wide." Walden said.
"With 454 employees that are visually-impaired, LC Industries is one of the largest employers for the blind currently," Walden explained. "Seventh-five percent of their products have to be manufactured or produced by a blind employee to be qualified as a NIB company."
LC Industries supply many of their top manufactured products to DLA including chemical light sticks; flatware and biodegradable flatware; paper conversion; tactical gear; shredders; mattresses; house-ware; padlocks; and water cans, according to Walden.
The group's final visit was to Fort Bragg's Base Supply Center. "We toured the distribution store and met employees who worked there," Walden said. "There were nine employees within the store who were totally or legally blind."
The group also toured the Joint Hazmat Facility which serves both Ft. Bragg and Pope Air Force Base. The facility is where flammable chemicals are located, monitored and shipped to various locations, according to Walden.
"I think IFB's and NIB's contributions are very valuable to DLA Aviation and the war-fighter," Walden said. "Since our visits we have a greater appreciation for the programs and highly support what they stand for and their mission which is "Building the Future for People Who are Blind."