SSC-Natick Press Release
U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick
Public Affairs Office
Natick, MA 01760-5012
Contact: Chief, Public Affairs Office
Date: April 29, 2003
Team receives NISH Government Award
NATICK, Mass. -- The Special Operations Forces (SOF) Special Projects Team at the Soldier Systems Center here received the 2002 NISH Government Award for Products during a ceremony at the NISH national conference April 8 in Denver, Colo.
NISH, formerly the National Industries for the Severely Handicapped, is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to create employment opportunities for people with severe disabilities by securing federal contracts through the Javits-Wagner-Day (JWOD) Program.
The JWOD Program provides employment opportunities for more than 36,000 Americans who are blind or have other severe disabilities by orchestrating government purchases of products and services provided by nonprofit agencies employing such individuals throughout the country.
"I told them that they're thanking us when we should be thanking them," said Fred Chan, SOF Special Projects Team leader, recalling his comments made at the ceremony. "We have guys around the globe who need equipment yesterday, and the organizations we've worked with are responsive, timely and do good work."
He said NISH makes the team's job easier because the projects don't require competitive contracting yet helps organizations in need of the work.
"They meet all the criteria we need at no downside to us. They're reliable, consistent and price-competitive," said Chan.
Because of the team's understanding of nonprofit agencies' capabilities and their commitment to the JWOD Program, an additional $17 million and 46 jobs for people with disabilities were created in Fiscal Year 2002.
This year will result in more than $6 million in research and development funding, and production funding and more than 32 jobs for people with disabilities.
"They have demonstrated phenomenal support of the JWOD Program and the employment of people with disabilities," said Will Harmon, NISH deputy director for products. "The team considers NISH and its community rehabilitation program affiliates to be an integrated part of the mission at the Soldier Systems Center."
Chan said the relationship started six years ago and has grown to include a variety of projects manufactured across the country.
The team worked with The Resource Center, a community rehabilitation program in Jamestown, N.Y., to expand the SOF pocket suite and spearheaded a partnership for them with one of the top companies in the tactical personal equipment industry.
The pocket suite contains nearly 50 load-bearing-related items and continues to grow with the scope of the Special Operations Forces community. This expansion of the project resulted in $650,000 and 10 jobs for people with disabilities.
The team also came to NISH with the idea for an entirely new clothing system composed of seven different layers and 16 items. The team prioritized a visit to Southside Training Employment and Placement Services in Farmville, Va.; Southeastern Kentucky Rehabilitation Inc. in Corbin, Ky.; and ORC in Lacrosse, Wis., in order to meet the staff, understand their business processes, and ensure that the employees were thanked and energized.
Through the efforts of all involved, the entire design to production cycle took less than one year.
Peckham Inc., in Lansing, Mich., received a contract for the integration and distribution of Personal Environmental Protection and Survival Equipment. This cutting-edge equipment package is supplied to every Navy SEAL operator, and its success hinges on Peckham's advanced supply management techniques.
Furthermore, the team promoted their efforts to industry magazines whose readers are now placing commercial orders for the items.
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