Army vet looks skyward as disabled workers face hurdles

Credit: Reuters - Politics
Published on September 1, 2019 - Duration: 01:51s

Army vet looks skyward as disabled workers face hurdles

With the U.S. unemployment rate at just 3.7%, employers have increasingly considered job applicants they often overlooked in the first stages of what is now a record-long economic expansion.

U.S. Army veteran T'Angelo Magee is making headway toward his dream job.

Tamara Lindstrom reports.

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Army vet looks skyward as disabled workers face hurdles

Standing out in the job market is a universal struggle, and one T'Angelo Magee knows all too well.

(SOUND BITE) (English) T'ANGELO MAGEE, JOB SEEKER, SAYING: "I was the perfect candidate.

Then when I get there in person, you see their face, like, oh, you're in a wheelchair." The U.S. Army Veteran has used a wheelchair since he was paralyzed from the chest down in a motorcycle crash, making it difficult to find work.

The veteran has used a wheelchair since he was paralyzed from the chest down in a motorcycle crash, making it difficult to find work.

(SOUND BITE) (English) T'ANGELO MAGEE, JOB SEEKER, SAYING: "The last job I had, before I got it, I went to 37 interviews.

And I always felt like, you know, you don't know if I could do the job.

How about you have me for a day, let me do the work, and if I could do it, hire me if not set me about my way.

But in the real world not like that." Magee is one of roughly 15 million disabled working-aged Americans according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And the 2008 recession hit this group hard.

John O'Neill, director of disability and employment research at the non-profit Kessler Foundation says this segment of the workforce has yet to recover.

(SOUND BITE) (English) KESSLER FOUNDATION, DIRECTOR, EMPLOYMENT & DISABILITY RESEARCH, JOHN O'NEILL, SAYING: "For people without disabilities, which is an interesting comparison, they started to recover from the recession in 2010, three years before people with disabilities." But with a tight labor market, employers are increasingly considering job applicants they may have overlooked.

And for Magee and others like him, a second chance at their dream job.

Veteran has used a wheelchair since he was paralyzed from the chest down in a motorcycle crash, making it difficult to find work.

(SOUND BITE) (English) T'ANGELO MAGEE, JOB SEEKER, SAYING: "I'm my head I'm just preparing myself, like, T'Angelo, you're about to fly a plane.

You've got no legs." Magee was among 10 students selected for the Able Flight program, facing his fears to follow his dream.

(SOUND BITE) (English) T'ANGELO MAGEE, JOB SEEKER, SAYING: "I was praying to god that my instructor wasn't in a wheelchair too, because I'm like "I don't know how this is going to work.'

I'm like, if something goes wrong, we both can't run.

I need somebody being able to, you know, be able to get one of us out of the plane." Now, Magee is looking to train as a U.S. commercial pilot, bringing his aviation skills to a job market that's starting to look wide open.

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