VIENNA, Va. — February 3, 2021— SourceAmerica® has a history of supporting the nation’s servicemembers in many different ways. From manufacturing uniforms to providing food service at military installations and even manufacturing personal protective equipment to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, SourceAmerica, people with disabilities, and the military have worked together to provide important products and services in the defense of the nation.
In 2018, the U.S. Army announced that the Army Green Service Uniform (AGSU) would become the new dress uniform for all soldiers. The AGSU’s design would be similar to the one worn during World War II, harkening to the days of bravery and courage brought forward by soldiers from the “Greatest Generation.”
Once the decision was made to change the uniform, the question of how to bring it to life came to the forefront. The Army ultimately decided that the AbilityOne® Program was positioned to provide the best quality and value for the project. The AbilityOne Program is one of the nation’s largest sources of employment for people who are blind or have significant disabilities. Nationwide, nearly 45,000 people are employed through the AbilityOne Program, including around 3,000 veterans.
“SourceAmerica is honored to be a part of the Army Green Service Uniform project,” said Jill Johnson, vice president, Products. “Our goal is to provide job opportunities for people with disabilities. We are proud to partner with the Army to accomplish our mission through this work.”
SourceAmerica and National Industries for the Blind (NIB) are Central Nonprofit Agencies designated by the U.S. AbilityOne Commission to facilitate the participation of nonprofit agencies in the Program. As an AbilityOne-authorized enterprise, SourceAmerica connects its network of approximately 700 local nonprofit agencies to job opportunities that become available through AbilityOne.
With the decision made that SourceAmerica and the AbilityOne Program would manufacture and roll out the AGSU, it turned out that SourceAmerica’s Manufacturing and Development Program was the ideal fit for the creative testing, manufacturing, and delivery of the uniform. Two nonprofit agencies within the SourceAmerica network, Goodwill Industries of South Florida, and Puerto Rico Industries for the Blind, were selected to take part due to their expertise in manufacturing uniforms and capacity to provide expert kitting and shipping plans. Their involvement enabled people with disabilities to have a front-and-center role with the AGSU project. Additionally, two nonprofit agencies within the NIB network — Alabama Industries for the Blind and Travis Association for the Blind –—were also on board.
The AGSU team spent nearly nine months designing and testing several versions of the new uniform. This process included the people with disabilities who were manufacturing several of the test pieces, including shirts, jackets, belts, slacks, and hats. Once a final design was chosen by the Army, full production on the AGSU began. Today, the nonprofit agencies share different responsibilities in the manufacturing, packaging, and delivery of the uniforms.
“Our team is proud to be a part of this landmark project through the AbilityOne Program,” said Goodwill Industries of South Florida President and CEO David Landsberg. “People with disabilities are making an impact every day, and to see the new Army Green Service Uniform being worn by our soldiers is very empowering for the individuals who are a part of this effort.”
Walter Anderson works on the AGSU project for Goodwill Industries of South Florida. “I take pride in what I do. I love my work. I love the company. I love the military; that I’m doing it for the military. I can’t get on the field and fight for them, but I can sure make their uniform,” he said.
The U.S. Army has received its initial shipments of the uniform at a number of its installations across the nation and will continue to receive them through the end of February 2021. Because of the diligence and dedication of people with disabilities who used their expertise and skill to meet the Army’s requirements, the Army is receiving a uniform they will proudly wear for years to come.
Posted: February 3, 2021