NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — J. Joshua Gonzalez may be a wounded warrior, but he doesn’t want you to think of him that way.
While on active duty as a U.S. Marine Corps logistics officer in Thailand in 2014, Gonzalez had an accident that neurologically injured his right upper and lower extremities, similar to someone who has had a stroke. He also has arthritis at the base of his spine because of the injury.
“I am not disabled; I am injured,” he said. “Right now, I have some limitations; however, I strive to break them and conquer them. It is what pushes me each day.”
Gonzalez is part of the AIR 6.0 Naval Acquisition Development Program (NADP), where he works as a logistics management specialist providing spares and supply support for the H-53 Heavy Lift Helicopter Program (PMA-261).
The NADP offers professional development, coaching and mentorship to promote the growth of entry-level professionals in finance, contracting, logistics, science and engineering. Mid-career professionals can participate in the program as an associate.
“Coming into NAVAIR presented some challenges, both physically and mentally,” Gonzalez said, noting that he has to stand at his desk to avoid discomfort from his injury when sitting for long periods of time. He credits his supervisor, reasonable accommodation coordinator, career field manager and co-workers with a smooth transition from military to civilian work.
“On base, most people try to offer assistance — which I quickly refuse but appreciate — and/or take their time to get to know me,” he said. “In general, most people are understanding and willing to work with you to overcome your challenges.”
“Joshua is extremely grateful and humbled by everyone’s personal commitment to him and his transition to civilian life,” said Sonny Fann, who helped bring Gonzalez on board when he was the civilian lead for the NAVAIR Veteran and Wounded Warrior Program. “Combat wounded or not, we place the same emphasis and commitment to help all wounded warriors, regardless of circumstance.”
Gonzalez hopes to continue supporting the warfighter.
“There is a constant reminder that my injury is not that bad, and I have a desire to still serve my country, even if not in uniform,” he said.
Each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month recognizes the abilities of employees like Gonzalez, rather than their disabilities, and acknowledges the unique talents, perspectives and contributions individuals with disabilities bring to the workplace.