14 years of advocacy and counting

By Nathan Short 06/10/2021
14 years of advocacy and counting

Nathan Short is a member of the SourceAmerica® Speakers Bureau and has given over 100 speeches about how he became the success that he is today. A U.S. Army veteran, Nathan was injured while serving our nation in Iraq. Today he is a Quality Control Manager for PCSI, an AbilityOne®​​​​​​​ nonprofit agency at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. 

I have been a member of the SourceAmerica Speakers Bureau since November of 2007. 

I remember my first speech was going to be fairly low-key, in front of about 20-30 SourceAmerica employees in Chicago. Well, that ended up getting canceled and my first speech ended up happening in Bethesda, Maryland in front of a crowd of about 700 people. So, saying I was nervous with a stomach full of butterflies, is an understatement.  

I remember talking to my mom before I left my home in Oklahoma for the Maryland speech and telling her I was a keynote speaker at a luncheon - and that I was super nervous. She told me that there would be background noise of people eating and talking to each other. Well, that was not the case at all! It was dead silence, but I told SourceAmerica I would be able do it – and I did. I was given a standing ovation as I walked up on stage, so that was something new for me and added to my plate of nerves. I just took a deep breath and went for it. My voice was a little shaky for the first couple of paragraphs of my speech and then those butterflies just went away. The audience was actually listening to me and was engaged in my story.  

I realized that I was doing something bigger than myself.  

As an advocate on the SourceAmerica Speakers Bureau, I realized that I could be helping individuals with disabilities and veterans just like me to find a career. My speech could also show federal contracting officers in the audience that a disability was just a hurdle. The reality is that people with disabilities - like me - could not only get the job done but could be a huge asset to their organization. 

Since that first time in Maryland nearly 14 years ago, I have had the opportunity to give over 100 speeches all over the U.S., have been interviewed by news and radio stations in six different states, and have had the honor to speak directly to U.S. Senators and Congressmen. Speaking on the behalf of the AbilityOne Program and SourceAmerica for the past 14 years has been an honor, and I have grown so much personally and professionally because of it. I have had some great mentors and have built friendships with individuals involved with AbilityOne, SourceAmerica and my employer, PCSI.  

For me, my biggest highlight of giving these speeches was when I was invited to speak at the Pentagon. Afterwards, I was taken on a private tour of the Army wing. I am a proud Army veteran and that was a big thrill for me. 

Since COVID hit, the way we work, give speeches, and live has changed dramatically. I have done three speeches via Zoom and MS TEAMS. At first, I had no clue how Zoom worked - I just saw it being used on Facebook and TikTok videos. After getting used to how these videoconference platforms work in a speech-giving environment, I like using them. The feel that Zoom and MS TEAMS provide are a little bit more personal. This gives the audience an opportunity to see me in my own environment - whether it’s at my desk at work or from my garage (which houses my fully functioning leather shop) at home.  

But at the end of the day, nothing beats the in-person speeches and the one-on-one conversations afterwards. I really enjoy and miss that interaction when traveling to other organizations and military installations. I know that one day we will get back to that and I can continue to represent PCSI, SourceAmerica and the AbilityOne Program in front of crowds just like the one I faced in Maryland 14 years ago.  

Find out more about the SourceAmerica Speakers Bureau or inquire about having a member speak at one of your events.