LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A long-time employee at the Little Rock Air Force base exchange has received an award from the Department of Defense.

Petra Eick has been named the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s Outstanding Associate with a Disability for 2023. She is a 10-year employee of the exchange.

“I was so stunned when I found out. I just kept staring at the email,” Eick said. “It’s such an honor.”

Eick is the wife of an Army retiree and has three children in the service: Two sons in the Army and a daughter in the Coast Guard. In serving the military community at the exchange, Eick said she was in the “family business.”

October has been named National Disability Employment Awareness Month by the U.S. Department of Labor. Noting the month, Eick shared advice for other disabled employees.

“Always keep open communication with your supervisor. You can work together to find solutions if you need accommodations,” Eick said. “Never be ashamed of your disability. My disability is part of who I am as a person and as an employee.”

According to Department of Defense statistics, associates with disabilities account for more than 16% of the Exchange’s workforce and 4% of exchange employees have targeted disabilities. The exchange system leads all DoD non-appropriated fund agencies in these categories.

“Exchange associates bring their unique gifts to work with them each day in serving the best customers in the world,” exchange director and CEO Tom Shull said. “An inclusive workforce makes the Exchange stronger with exceptional associates like Petra.”