In April of this year, the Coast Guard officially established the disABILITY Allies Resource Group (DARG) as an affinity group to raise awareness, educate the workforce and include people with disabilities in our Coast Guard community.
You might have noticed the word “disability” is spelled differently. This is intentional to highlight a person’s many "abilities.” Just because someone has a disability does not mean they are not able to hold meaningful roles within the Coast Guard.
DARG was created to provide support for individuals with disabilities and those who care for family members with disabilities. DARG educates friends, families and co-workers of people with disabilities, enabling them to be better able to empathize and connect with their special needs child or better understand their coworkers’ experiences.
“We recognize National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) every October,” said Lt. Cmdr. Vincent Escobedo, DARG Vice President. “But we didn’t want the awareness to stop there. So, we created an affinity group to provide year-round support for persons with disabilities serving in the Coast Guard.”
DARG's purpose is to help people have conversations and provide support year-round, not just during NDEAM. By highlighting non-apparent disabilities, DARG fosters inclusion and understanding. The group creates safe and supportive forums to allow people opportunities to share issues and concerns affecting the disability community, receive support from those who share similar backgrounds and experiences and provide networking opportunities.
If you are a new employee looking for policies or resources, DARG is here for you. If, as a civilian employee, you develop a disability and need to request a reasonable accommodation, DARG has your back. If you are having a difficult time understanding a family member with a disability, reach out to DARG for help.
DARG not only supports members of the disability community, but also supports leadership, commands, and peers to better understand their employees and people they work with. Affinity groups like DARG are strategic partners with the Coast Guard to create an environment that promotes dignity, respect, fairness and inclusion to ensure we remain mission ready to protect, defend and save.
DARG leadership is looking to expand once the foundation is built. If you are interested in chartering a local chapter, please contact Lt. Cmdr. Vincent Escobedo.