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Veterans and Others with Disabilities Welcomed at Ford Motor Company
Henry Ford laid the foundation for disabled veterans to be welcomed as employees of Ford Motor Company. Early in the company's history, he saw to it that people with disabilities were given the chance to prove themselves, and many of them became loyal and productive employees.
Finding a Place for Returning Veterans
Ford’s philosophy of inclusion was shared by his grandson, Henry Ford II. Near the end of World War II, and especially in its aftermath, numerous wounded and disabled veterans were flooding back into the workforce. Henry Ford II understood that persons with disabilities, including returning veterans, wanted and deserved an equal chance to work.
As had been done in the early days, Henry Ford II made efforts to integrate returning veterans into the workplace. This meant accommodating blind persons and providing specially modified equipment for those who had lost limbs, for example.
A Legacy of Inclusion
Even before World War II, Ford Motor Company was known as one that was more interested in a prospective employee's abilities than any disabilities the person might have. In 1937, an article in Ford News reported that the company had "11,632 men in various stages of disability earning full pay," and the article made a point of saying that "they give full value for their wages."
The company's leadership in the employment of persons with disabilities continued through the years. In the 1970s, Henry Ford II was a founding member of the National Business and Disability Council, long before the U.S. government enacted laws requiring equal opportunity for persons with disabilities.