Donald Tate is a Customer Support Specialist for the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Customer Interaction Center. In his role for DLA, Donald provides support to military personnel, government agencies, and Department of Defense vendors as they navigate the complex systems involved in maintaining U.S. defense operations across the globe. Donald provides support for tough questions, taking a deeper dive into issues that can’t be solved by the Level 1 Customer Service Representatives (CSRs). He also reviews performance and uses analytics to assist the Customer Interaction Center in its mission to provide quality support to our warfighters, ensuring they receive the parts they need to support their mission. Donald is also a person with a disability.

Donald didn’t start out in this line of work. After high school, Donald worked in restaurant and retail customer service positions, usually part time. He didn’t make much money, there were no opportunities for raises, and the working conditions and morale were poor. Donald knew he was capable of doing more.

In 2015 Donald began work at Peckham as a Level 1 CSR for the DLA CIC. Peckham has provided the Level 1 CSR support for the CIC since 1996 through an AbilityOne Program contract.

Donald’s job at Peckham was the first job where he received a raise or had benefits. It was the first job that gave him sick time and paid vacation time. It was the first job in which he was promoted. It was the first job where he received regular feedback or written reviews so he could know where he stood and how to improve his performance.

And improve he did. Within 6 months, Donald felt comfortable on the phones handling the complex questions posed by callers from around the world. He was promoted to a Team Lead position within two years. And in less than four years, Donald was hired by the Defense Logistics Agency to work as a Customer Support Specialist.

Donald says his time at Peckham helped prepare him to meet the high standards required for government contact center operations. He had coworkers both with and without disabilities, and he appreciated that people had the necessary accommodations they needed to do their jobs well. He also saw that everyone was held to the same industry standards regardless of disability, and that his coworkers didn’t use their disability as an excuse for why they couldn’t do their job.

Donald realized he could be something when he came to Peckham. He considers his disability to be hidden or invisible, and experienced teasing and bullying in school and in the workplace. He says that at Peckham, you can be who you are, disability and all, and that your disability doesn’t define you.

“Programs like AbilityOne are extremely important because without it people with disabilities have fewer resources to turn to. In these jobs, they are treated with dignity and can achieve their dreams in a safe welcoming environment. Lots of employers are well meaning but don’t know how to accommodate people with disabilities.”


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