TALLADEGA -- Alabama Industries for the Blind on Feb. 8 celebrated the grand opening of its new military supply store at Warner Robins Air Force Base in Georgia.

The new store will join three other similar AIB facilities at Redstone Arsenal and Ft. Rucker in Alabama and Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Georgia.

“The Alabama Industries for the Blind marked 85 years in business last year,” AIB Executive Manager Jerry Martin said. “It is a component of the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind, the world’s most comprehensive education and service program for individuals of all ages with hearing and/or vision loss.

“Warner Robins Air Force Base is one of our nation’s greatest defense assets, and AIB looks forward to this new and future opportunities to support the U.S. military while creating employment opportunities for blind and vision impaired adults through our Ability One base supply store. It’s a win-win.”

Uniform issuance at the Robins base will now be led by Ability One, which is “one of the largest sources of employment on federal contracts for individuals who are blind or have significant disabilities in the United States,” a press release states.

Service members currently receive their uniforms from the Individual Equipment Element within Base Supply.

“The (AIB) Ability One-run base supply center will not only support the installation with uniforms, it will also be a source for administrative supplies,” AIDB President Dr. John Mascia said. “The Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind is pleased to become partners with Warner Robins Air Force Base through AIB’s Ability One Base Supply Store.

“We are the state’s largest employer of blind adults, individuals who proudly tell anyone who will listen that they are supporting the U.S. military every day when they come to work.

“The major portion of our annual $30 million in sales is directly linked to military contracts. Some of those employees once served on active duty in the military and today are proud to say because of this job, we’re still doing our part.”

According to Robins Air Force Base Public Affairs, the new base supply store will improve the way Airmen get their uniforms.

“The changeover represents a great day for Team Robins,” 78th Logistics Readiness Squadron Material Management Flight Chief David Burton said.

“Some installations converted to Ability One-run base supply centers more than 20 years ago. This conversion puts us in line with most continental U.S. military installations and will provide better overall support for the warfighter and Team Robins.”

According to the press release, “AIB employs approximately 200 blind and deaf adults through its manufacturing plants in Talladega and Birmingham and through its base supply store locations.”

Blind workers produce a multitude of items for the military, including deck swabs for the U.S. Navy, brushes, paper and screen print products, neckties, screen print products, flight bags and JLIST bags.

For more information, contact AIDB Director of Institutional Advancement Lynne Hanner at 256-761-3206.