Col. David Sutherland, chairman of the Easter Seals Dixon Center and chief strategist for Easter Seals Military and Veterans Services, spoke at the Automotive Warehouse Distributors Association (AWDA) 2015 Business and Education Conference, held in conjunction with AAPEX in Las Vegas. Easter Seals is a key partner in the Auto Care Association’s Operation Auto Care initiative for connecting veterans with careers in the auto care industry.
Col. Sutherland challenged the audience of top distributors and manufacturers to consider the potential inherent in military veterans. He recounted the experiences of service members with whom he had served, illustrating how their potential as leaders and team members had been tested and confirmed in extremely stressful situations.
During Col. Sutherland’s 29 years of service with the U.S. Army, he earned the Bronze Star Medal with oak leaf cluster, Purple Heart, Ranger Tab, Combat Infantryman’s Badge Second Award and Senior Parachutist Badge. Following Combat Brigade Command during surge operations in Iraq, Col. Sutherland was appointed special assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with principal focus on warrior and family support. He has received numerous awards and commendations related to his work on behalf of returning service members, veterans, military families and families of the fallen.
In his address to the AWDA members, Col. Sutherland described the many benefits of hiring veterans and the many advantages these individuals possess as a result of their military service. He noted especially their leadership skills, ability to overcome challenging situations, technical competence and outstanding work ethic.
He commended the Auto Care Association for its ongoing effort to establish a nationwide network of employers and veterans placement services in cooperation with Easter Seals and the Wyakin Warrior Foundation. In particular, he praised several AWDA member companies for participating in pilot programs for Operation Auto Care: Fisher/KOI Auto Parts, Cincinnati, Ohio; Automotive Supply Associates, Concord, New Hampshire; Performance Warehouse, Hillsdale, Oregon; and WM Warehouse, Ft. Worth, Texas.
Currently, Operation Auto Care is ramping up to begin active engagement with member companies seeking to hire veterans in key locations around the country. Ultimately, a self-funded, national program is envisioned with members partnering with local Easter Seals affiliates to meet many of their hiring needs. For more information, visit autocare.org/operationautocare.