VA Program Matches Vets and Employers
Compensated Work Therapy (CWT) is a Department of Veterans Affairs vocational rehabilitation program that endeavors to match and support Veterans in competitive jobs.
This is a program for Veterans who have suffered setbacks and wish to regain control of their lives. Compensated Work Therapy offers counseling, training and assistance to those who qualify.
CWT programs strive to maintain long term quality relationships with business and industry to promote employment opportunities for Veterans with physical and mental disabilities.
Veterans are placed in jobs after the CWT employment specialists consult with companies regarding their specific employment needs.
The CWT program was designed to provide a structured evaluation of work potential, improve work behaviors, and prepare the Vets to return to the work force. Preparing résumés, developing interview techniques and completing job applications are important skills participants learn in the program.
Being able to return to work is a high priority among veterans of every age, according to Dr. Anthony Campinell, Director of VA's Therapeutic and Supported Employment Programs.
“We helps Veterans find jobs they're interested in and help guide them in that process. And we help train them to be successful in that job,” Dr. Campinell explains.
“VA doctors refer Veterans into the CWT program. CWT employment specialists discover the Veterans' interests and strengths and skills, find a likely employer, and then engage the employer and the Veteran with a work opportunity. Clinicians understand that helping somebody go back to work contributes to their health and their future.”
The program helps identify problems the Veteran may be having while working and then bring that problem back to his or her treatment team, primary physician or psychiatrist. The doctor can then adjust the Veteran's treatment or the CWT employment specialist can modify the workplace situation.
Dr. Campinell adds, “The CWT staff, along with the Veteran, negotiates with the employer on possible changes in their workplace arrangement. CWT staff members also work with employers to develop jobs not previously available at an employment site that meets company needs and capitalizes on the skills, talents and interests of individual Veterans.
The CWT Program works with employers to hire Veterans as company employees through CWT's Supported Employment program or to have Veterans at the worksite in a temporary, non-employee status through CWT's Transitional Work program. “This is a great deal for the Veteran and the employer because the employer doesn't have to pay all the costs of hiring somebody and they don't cover health care or life insurance. They just pay an hourly rate,” Dr. Campinell adds.
More than 400 formerly homeless Veterans with disabilities were hired in 2010 and more than 20,000 Veterans are in the transitional work program every year.
Across VA there are 169 CWT programs providing vocational services for 60,000 Veterans with mental and/or physical limitations.
As Dr. Campinell notes, “The CWT program is a clinical approach based on research that says this is one of the best ways for disabled people to find work. The unemployment rate among people with disabilities is 70 to 80 percent, and one of the best ways to give somebody an identity, besides being disabled, is giving them a job.” The professional Compensated Work Therapy staff provides:
Dr. Campinell points out that, “A unique discovery in the program evolved when VA medical center staff saw individuals in the CWT program turn into very successful employees and then hired them when openings came up at the medical center. It's like a stepping stone”.
“Veterans are interested in working for VA because there's something about working in the VA that Veterans, including me, find important. There's a level of respect that exists in our system already and they appreciate that. And not just financially. It changes the Veteran's self-image. Having a job is an extremely positive experience.”
Typically, CWT programs are located within VA medical centers in most large metropolitan areas and many smaller communities. You can find them on the CWT Locations page.
Information on the program is available at www.cwt.va.gov or by calling (800) 355-8262.
And check out some of our great Success Stories.
In some locations CWT is also known as Veterans Industries.
“This program helps remove the stigma of going to the doctor,” Dr. Campinell concludes. “Nobody in the program sees themselves as ill, they see themselves as workers. Work doesn't cure mental illness, but it sure makes you feel better.”