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USDA Reasonable Accommodations Help Disabled Veteran Succeed with Federal Career

Posted by Melissa Blair, Public Affairs Specialist, USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement in Equity Initiatives
Oct 31, 2023
Makesi Harford

Many veterans and military spouses search for careers that can accommodate their health and physical needs. At the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), reasonable accommodations can be arranged to help employees succeed in the workplace.

Makesi Harford, who hails from Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, was hired by USDA after serving in the U.S. Navy for 21 years. He connected with USDA Military Veterans Agricultural Liaison (MVAL) Monshi “Ram” Ramdass, who helped him transition smoothly to a civilian job as a program specialist with a new division of the USDA Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Harford worked his USDA supervisors to obtain a reasonable accommodation to telework due to respiratory issues.

After a few years, Harford was hired as an associate director with USDA’s Rural Development in Washington D.C., which also accommodated his health needs.

“Ram was instrumental in helping me find positions that fit perfectly with my occupational skillset, and he was a great mentor too,” said Harford. “I learned about Ram’s assistance as the Military Veteran Agricultural Liaison during my military transition classes in 2018.”

Harford reached out to Ram to get more information about USDA opportunities and federal employment. One specific question he asked concerned whether it was better in the private sector or the federal government. “Ram was honest about the pros and cons, which made my decision much easier,” Harford said.

Ramdass said that the top question asked by veterans and veteran spouses is where to start searching for USDA careers, and he recommends USDA managers also reach out to the MVAL in search of veterans or military spouses to fill vacant positions at USDA. He is also asked about how to request special accommodations, since many veterans retire with disabilities. USDA can provide reasonable accommodations such as special IT equipment, furniture, and telephone systems.

“My advice to other veterans is to work with Ram to utilize his great mentorship and agricultural savvy,” said Harford. “He is a great personality with a wealth of knowledge.”

Contact the USDA MVAL at to learn more about special accommodations, special hiring authorities for veterans and their family members, the veterans’ preference in applying for federal jobs, and how veterans can align their skills with USDA mission areas and staff offices.

Category/Topic: Equity Initiatives