Work of visually-impaired contracted employees helps Tinker Air Force Base save $22M

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MIDWEST CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – Some of them are visually impaired, some have lost their sight completely, but their work with boxes and crates at Tinker Air Force Base has saved the Defense Logistics Agency $22 million in the last seven years.

Many of them, just like Gaylon Young, who, with the guidance of a cane, has walked into a workshop on base for the last four years.

“I’m a pretty adventurous person,” Young said.

Due to glaucoma, his sight has been on the decline.

“I think I have about three to four percent vision in my left eye,” said Young.

He still works hard with his white nails and a special set of tools, making sure he doesn’t get hurt.

Young is one of 17 blind or visually-impaired employees currently at the box and crate reclamation center on Tinker Air Force Base. The boxes and crates are used to hold critical pieces in repairing military aircraft.

Because of the repairs these employees make, they can be reused, saving $22 million over seven years.

“So, New View Oklahoma is a very important part of our national defense,” said Ben Robinson, a former wing commander at Tinker who now works with New View Oklahoma.

The labor is contracted through New View – an organization working to solve a big problem.

“On a national level, and even more so here in Oklahoma, the unemployment rate for those who are blind or visually impaired is over seventy percent,” said New View Oklahoma President and CEO Lauren Branch.

For many of those employed by New View, it’s about adapting their skills as their vision changes.

“You’re sawing, cutting, identifying broken boards and bad things that’s in the boxes and repairing them,” said Young. “I did that in my old life.”

Glimpses of their old life – made possible with a new view.

“It changes your whole world,” Young said. “A little tool like this makes it possible for you to do the things you do.”

New View has more jobs available and is looking to develop more partnerships like the one they have with Tinker.

They also do programs and camps for children with visual impairments.

New View is honoring these employees for National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

For more information, visit their website.

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