Jeff Kohler stood up for our rights. Then we stood up for his.
Jeff Kohler is a Navy veteran with disabilities ranging from traumatic brain injury to arthritis in his back as a result of wearing body armor for a year. He knew that his employer was required to allow him to go to the Veterans Administration for medical appointments. He also knew that his service dog, Crozer, was allowed to be by his side.
Unfortunately, his supervisor didn’t know these things. And no one at the company where Jeff worked as a logistics contractor had put his needed accommodations in writing. When the situation began to get tense, with no help from human resources, Jeff called his veterans services coordinator, who put him in contact with Disability Rights Ohio (DRO).
After several unsuccessful attempts by DRO to get in touch with the human resources department, DRO staff used their connections to reach out to Senator Sherrod Brown’s office, and the logjam was broken. A vice president of the company called Jeff to apologize, and all the accommodations he needed to be successful at work were documented and put in place. Jeff now feels free to go to his medical appointments, and Crozer is welcome in the office.
“Due to the varying nature of my disabilities, Crozer helps me when problems arise and helps negate them,” Jeff says. “He's trained to pick things up for me, so my back injury isn’t constantly irritated, which lessens the amount of medication I have to take. Crozer has improved the general quality of my life and that is important to me.”
Jeff got some additional good news when he was offered a permanent job with the federal government instead of working as a contractor. Now, he doesn’t have to worry about contracts expiring. Jeff has a message for other veterans who might find themselves in a difficult situation at work when it comes to their disabilities.
“I want them to know that they have rights and to stand their ground when it comes to getting taken care of and maintaining employment,” he explains. “And that if they have issues, to first use the chain of command within their employer and if that does not work, Disability Rights Ohio can assist.”