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NSWC Crane lead works to expand Employees with Disabilities Special Emphasis Program group

By Audrey C. Deiser, NSWC Crane Corporate Communications | Oct. 29, 2020

CRANE, Ind. – Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) Contract Specialist Amanda Hughes was just a little girl when she first heard the quote that would become her life motto.

“I was watching television, and Mr. Rogers said something like ‘When things get scary, look for the helpers,’” said Hughes. “Since then, I’ve always strived to be a ‘helper.’”

Hughes, a graduate of Indiana University, said she’s able to implement that idea in her work in various ways. As a contract specialist, she works to fund requirements for NSWC Crane’s technical mission areas of Expeditionary Warfare, Electronic Warfare, and Strategic Missions.

“I try to make life a little easier for people on the technical side,” said Hughes. “There’s a lot of red tape, and I want to lighten that load by being responsive and helping where I can.”

She hopes to mirror those efforts as co-lead of NSWC Crane’s Special Emphasis Program (SEP) for Employees with Disabilities. After two years working in contracts, Hughes said she wants to expand her circle and give back with her time.

“Growing up, I struggled with some learning disabilities in school,” said Hughes. “I saw a lot of what worked – and didn’t work – for myself and others. One of the things that always stuck out was having a good advocate on your team. If I can be that advocate for even one person who needs help at Crane, I’ll know I’ve done something worthwhile.”

She said Crane has a varied culture, and employees with disabilities are part of that culture. Growing the SEP group and making the community more visible at Crane would provide more funding accommodations like special parking, ramps, and standing desks.

The recently launched SEP group held a virtual panel on Wednesday, October 14. Employees Fred Seitz, Therron Thomas, and Mason Ellis discussed their experiences.

“I thought it was really great to have insight from people with both invisible and visible disabilities,” said Hughes. “It was a great event for raising awareness. Just because you can’t see someone’s disabilities doesn’t mean they are not there.”

Hughes hopes the event spurs interest in the SEP group, and shared that everyone is welcome to join. She said people who have experience with family members, children, or employees who just want to be advocates all have a place in the group.

“I want people to know that this group is an opportunity to get their opinions heard at a higher level,” said Hughes. “If there’s something you’re passionate about changing, or any issues you see, this is a channel to get your concerns heard by command.”

Hughes said her motivation to help others drives her create a more inclusive culture at Crane.

“Before I started working here, I figured since Crane was a government entity, it was really strict and didn’t do a lot to celebrate the differences of its employees,” said Hughes. “Now, I see a place trying really hard to welcome employees from all walks of life, and that’s something I want to help continue to happen.”

About NSWC Crane

NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with mission areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electronic Warfare. The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi- spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability to today's Warfighter.

Join Our Team! NAVSEA employs a diverse, highly trained, educated, and skilled workforce - from students and entry level employees to experienced professionals and individuals with disabilities. We support today's sophisticated Navy and Marine Corps ships, aircraft, weapon systems and computer systems. We are continuously looking for engineers, scientists, IT and cyber specialists, as well as trade and other support professionals to ensure the U.S. Navy can protect and defend America. Please contact NSWC Crane Human Resources at crane_recruiting@navy.mil.