Learning from Ron Drach, Combat Veteran Wounded in the Vietnam War
Rockville, Md., June 26 – Earlier this month, the RespectAbility Fellows had the privilege of hearing from Ron Drach, a combat veteran wounded in the Vietnam War. Drach says he’s lucky to have survived his wounds.
“If I could sum up the beginning of my career in two words, they would be luck and opportunity,” Drach said. “I got injured in 1967, and I’m lucky because I have survived.”
Getting injured in 1967 provided him with what he considered “to be a “luck job,” because it led to a job offer with the Disabled American Veterans (DAV).
Very soon after he accepted his position, DAV expressed they wanted to relocate Drach to an office somewhere outside his hometown of Pittsburgh where he was first hired. He and his wife were absolutely thrilled at the prospect of relocating and becoming acquainted with a whole new change of scenery. Drach recalled sitting down with his wife, and the couple discussed which states where they could see themselves residing; their top three picks were California, Arizona and Texas. After discussing these three potentials with his boss in the Washington, D.C., headquarters office, he was asked if he and his wife had considered Washington, D.C.
Both Drach and his wife were hesitant in transferring to the nation’s capital. Nonetheless, the couple moved and Drach fully embraced this new window of opportunity head-on. Drach took a chance in his new place of employment to create opportunities for himself. Because of his experience, he encourages people with and without disabilities to do the same.
“When approaching disability stigma, there’s still a great deal of work to be done,” Drach said.
“Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.”
Suffocating stereotypes surround people with disabilities, particularly those in the common workplace. Drach often alludes to this quote from Theodore Roosevelt: “Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.”
Roosevelt’s quote can be directly applied to the principle of disability self-acceptance. I interpret it as to think of this self-acceptance as a job, and not just any job. Consider this acceptance as your “luck job” that potentially can provide you with many opportunities.
Take my disability status, for instance. I’m totally blind; though, that doesn’t limit me in experiencing all life has to offer. Like Drach, I too consider myself lucky to have a disability in my own way. Living with blindness has allotted me opportunities to see the world from a totally different perspective. Drach makes a point to reiterate that opportunity will always follow luck. Even if luck comes across as a misfortune, you must continue to trust your journey.
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RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. This summer 15 Fellows have the opportunity to learn from a variety of guest speakers. Learn more about the National Leadership Program and apply for the next cohort! Contact BenS@RespectAbility.org for more information.
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