October 24, 2013
GI Go Fund Director Jack Fanous Joins Senator Menendez in Fighting for Disability Rights Worldwide
Fanous was part of US Senator Robert Menendez’s roundtable focused on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its impact on Americans, including Disabled Military Veterans.
WEST ORANGE, NJ - During a roundtable discussion regarding the rights of disabled people around the world, GI Go Fund Executive Director Jack Fanous advocated on behalf of disabled veterans here in the United States who often times face discrimination and unfair treatment abroad.
“The ratification of this treaty is not only important to millions of people worldwide with disabilities, or the half million veterans who wish to travel with dignity around the world, but it is also important for the United States of America to maintain its standing as the leader of global human rights,” said Fanous. “Men and women who wore our uniforms, who may have lost a limb protecting us and our freedoms, should never have to battle to maintain their dignity around the world. This treaty is a treaty for human dignity."
The roundtable discussion was hosted by U.S. Senator Robert Menendez at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation Conference Center in West Orange. The event centered around the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), an international treaty that establishes rights and norms which countries across the globe must follow when dealing with disabled people.
There are approximately 5.5 million disabled American veterans, with more than 3.5 million of whom are receiving compensation for a disability. More than 325,000 American service members and their families are stationed abroad, many in countries with low or incompatible accessibility standards. Those service members serving abroad with family members who have special needs can therefore face unnecessary obstacles, including a lack of accommodations to their unique needs and discriminatory practices in employment.
The CRPD would also have an impact on younger veterans attending college. Of the nearly 1 million veterans and their beneficiaries that have taken advantage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill since its inception four years ago, about twenty percent have a disability. These students are usually precluded from studying abroad because of poor accessibility standards at institutions of higher learning overseas.
Despite the fact that the CRPD is based on many of the same standards that the Americans with Disabilities Act established, the treaty has yet to be ratified by the United States. Ratification of International Treaties requires a 2/3rds majority of votes in both chambers of Congress. Currently, 137 states (including the European Union) have joined in this treaty.