One word that drives the engine
Malcolm Giles is a veteran who suffers with anxiety, PTSD, and chronic pain. He is employed by SourceAmerica network nonprofit agency PCSI at Fort Knox, Kentucky on an AbilityOne® Program contract as a Quality Control and Safety Manager. Malcolm believes the AbilityOne Program, one of the nation’s largest sources of employment for people who are blind or have significant disabilities, is knocking down barriers for thousands of veterans and people with disabilities across the nation.
The Oxford Dictionary has 171,476 words in current use. Just one of these words made a huge impact in my life. This word is “Yes.” Either we can receive a yes or we can say yes.
With just one yes, I was able to join the U.S. Army and serve my country. With just one yes, I was able to seek therapy and work through my problems. With just one yes, I was able to win one of SourceAmerica’s most prestigious awards. With just one yes, I am able to share my story with others through the SourceAmerica Speaker Bureau program.
When I think of AbilityOne, I picture an enormous ship in which SourceAmerica is one of the engines that moves this massive vessel. But we all know this engine cannot operate without a particular fuel source. This fuel at one time was thought to be unusable. No one wanted it. Every time it was suggested, people looked at this fuel source like it was not there. But in reality, it was everywhere, and in vast quantities.
Then a group of people came together and discovered this fuel source is viable. No refinements, no additives, no detergents needed. In its purest form, a consciousness was discovered. Thoughts and voices no one ever took the time to listen to were being heard. Capabilities that outshined the most capable surprised the nonbelievers. No longer was the shadow of disbelief and doubt being used to deny opportunity. Instead, it was replaced with the following four words: Go. Be a Force. Individuals like me – people with disabilities – are the source of this irreplaceable fuel.
I almost denied myself the opportunity to become a force. I was physically and mentally broken. My aura was filled with sadness and frustration. I was engaging in destructive behavior that could have ended my life at any moment.
The night I received that very special award - the Evelyne Villines Award - and gave my acceptance speech, I actually became that champion in my heart and soul. My role now was to be an inspiration to those who have come before me and to those who will come after.
Winning that award led to my being asked to become a member of the SourceAmerica Speakers Bureau. The opportunity allowed me to finally talk about my destructive behavior in a constructive and meaningful way. Specifically, it allowed me to share my story about what caused me to become physically and mentally broken. I was able to convey to others where I was before AbilityOne, Source America, PCSI, and the Speakers Bureau. I was inspired to speak for those who do not have a voice and for those who do not have an advocate - a person - to be their champion. A person who can tell you, “You are not alone.”
I would like to send a message to fellow veterans who may be reading this. I want to be that inspiration, that example. I want to be the one to say to those of you who are struggling just as I was, that I am here to listen to you. I understand your pain. I have seen your pain. I understand what you are going through. I am here for you. Not to walk in front of you. Not to walk behind you, but beside you.
If you need someone to talk to who knows what it’s like to be in your shoes you can email me at any time. I will be I will be your champion. I will say, “Yes.”
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