The U.S. Army is getting a new uniform, and it’s being manufactured by people employed through the AbilityOne Program, one of the nation’s largest sources of employment for people who are blind or have significant disabilities.
In 2018, the U.S. Army announced that the Army Green Service Uniform (AGSU) would become the new dress uniform. With a design similar to the one worn during World War II, the uniform hearkens back to the days of bravery and courage.
For manufacturing, the Army selected the AbilityOne Program, an independent federal agency that employs nearly 45,000 people, including about 3,000 veterans. SourceAmerica® and National Industries for the Blind (NIB) are central nonprofit agencies designated to facilitate the participation of nonprofit agencies in the program.
Two nonprofit agencies within the SourceAmerica network, Goodwill Industries of South Florida and Puerto Rico Industries for the Blind, took part due to their expertise in manufacturing uniforms and their capacity to provide expert kitting and shipping plans. Additionally, two nonprofit agencies within the NIB network—Alabama Industries for the Blind and Travis Association for the Blind—were also on board.
The AGSU team spent nearly nine months designing and testing several versions of the uniform, including shirts, jackets, belts, slacks and hats. Once a final design was chosen by the Army, full production began. Today, the nonprofit agencies share different responsibilities in the manufacturing, packaging and delivery of the uniforms.
Walter Anderson works on the AGSU project for Goodwill Industries of South Florida. “I take pride in what I do,” he says. “I love my work. I love the company. I love the military; that I’m doing it for the military. I can’t get on the field and fight for them, but I can sure make their uniform.”