Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Transformation of a State Agency

by Gabe Faimon

When I was appointed as Commissioner, Kansas Rehabilitation Services in 1979, I sensed a unique opportunity to work with a well educated core staff, 37 Master’s Degree Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors. They were assigned to cover the State’s 105 counties. Annually, the counselors served an average of 1,200 adults with disabilities, providing coaching and mentoring services to assist clients identify and pursue goals to secure greater independence, particularly through entering and sustaining gainful employment.

Although core staff members held a master’s degree, a 333 page bureaucratic manual of “thou shall” and “thou shall not” procedures stifled their initiative and creativity to apply professional education and training. The manual implied that the staff could not be trusted and held accountable for professional decision making, particularly for expenditure of public funds.

While maintaining their caseload, the staff worked intensively with a computer systems contractor developing, field testing and successfully implementing a computer-assisted case management system. By 1982, based on standards set by the U.S. Rehabilitation Services Administration, the agency advanced from 34th to 3rd among the 50 sister state agencies,

As a cadet at USAFA, I met Congressman Bob Dole, then a member of the USAFA Congressional Board of Visitors. Early in my tenure as Commissioner of Kansas Rehabilitation Services, I became aware that Senator Bob Dole was an unrelenting champion for people with disabilities, particularly for their efforts to achieve independence. Senator Dole and his staff assistant for disability provided invaluable insight and advice as I initiated change within Kansas Rehabilitation Services.

Lieutenant Bob Dole, U.S. Army, was critically wounded in the Battle of Monte Cassino, near Salerno, Italy, during World War II. His wounds produced severe, permanent right shoulder and arm disability.

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