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Veterans Health Administration

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Veterans Health Administration


Information for Veterans - Compensated Work Therapy

For Veterans |  For Employers  |  Locations  |  Services 

CWT Veterans have been successfully employed over the years in various competitive positions including, but not limited to, health care, information technology, manufacturing, warehousing, construction trades, clerical and office support, retail and the services delivery. CWT programs develop an individual rehabilitation plan for each Veteran. We provide a wide range of support services to the Veteran at the CWT locations. VA benefits including service-connected compensation, and non-service connected pensions cannot be reduced, denied, or discontinued based on participation in CWT.

The CWT program mission is to provide realistic and meaningful vocational opportunities to Veterans; encouraging successful reintegration into the community at the Veterans' highest functional level. To achieve this mission CWT staffs endeavor to match an individual Veteran's vocational strength and area of interest to work and employment opportunities with local businesses and industry. Veterans interested in learning more about the Compensated Work Therapy program should contact their local VA Medical center.

CWT Programs for Veterans:

  • Incentive Therapy (not available at all CWT locations)
  • Sheltered Workshop (not available at all CWT locations)
  • Transitional Work and Vocational Assistance
  • Supported Employment and Post-Employment Supports
  • Transitional Residence (not available at all CWT locations)

Incentive Therapy Program:

Incentive Therapy (IT) is a pre-employment program that provides a diversified work experience in the VA medical center for Veterans who exhibit severe mental illness and/or physical impairments. IT services extend for an indefinite period of time, as is clinically appropriate, and may consist of full or part-time work at nominal remuneration. Each participant in the IT program has an individual treatment or service plan, case manager and treatment team to monitor services.

Sheltered Workshop Program:

CWT operates the Sheltered Workshop (SW) program in approximately 20% of the total number of CWT locations. SW provides an opportunity for work hardening and assessment in a simulated work environment. The activity in SW is paid for on a piece rate basis and the average length of stay generally is four to six months based on the Veteran's Individual Treatment Team and Service Plan.

Transitional Work Program:

The Transitional Work (TW) is a pre-employment vocational assessment program that operates in the VA medical center and local community businesses. TW participants are screened by vocational rehabilitation staff, assessed and matched to a work assignment for a limited time as deemed clinically appropriate. TW work assignments are supervised by work site staff, and impose the same job expectations as are experienced by non-CWT workers in the organization or company.

Every TW participant has an Individual Treatment or Service Plan and is vocationally case managed by a VA Vocational Specialist. Each participating Veteran must be referred by order from someone privileged in the VA medical center for vocational services, and may have a mental or physical impairment, including Veterans who are homeless, and/or diagnosed with substance abuse or PTSD. Veterans participating in TW are not considered employees of the VA or participating company, and receive no traditional employee benefits. Payments received by participating TW Veterans are tax exempt. There are no direct government entitlements that subsidize the Veteran's earnings in TW programs.

Supported Employment Program:

The Supported Employment (SE) program consists of competitive employment with therapeutic supports integrated into treatment. The focus of SE is to assist Veterans with psychosis and other serious mental illness gain access to meaningful competitive employment. When there is a co-occurring mental health diagnosis, limited SE services may be available on a case by case basis to Veterans with spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury. Veterans perceived to have significant barriers to competitive work are able to engage in full and part-time employment with appropriate supports and workplace accommodation. SE follow-up may continue indefinitely, but generally participation and supports are phased out after the Veteran is able to maintain employment independently.

Transitional Residence Program:

The Transitional Residence (TR) program is a work-based Psychosocial Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program offering a therapeutic residential setting for Veterans involved in CWT. The TR program provides a rehabilitation-focused residential setting for Veterans recovering from chronic mental illness, Sustance Use Disorders and homelessness. TR provides a bridge between hospitalization or intensive outpatient treatment and successful community reintegration. It utilizes a residential therapeutic community of peer and professional support, with a strong emphasis on increasing personal responsibility and achievement of individualized rehabilitation goals.

This program differs from other VA-operated residential bed programs in that participants contribute (using their CWT earnings) to the cost of operating and maintaining their residences and are responsible for planning, purchasing and preparing their own meals. Veterans interested in learning more about the Transitional Residence program should contact Jamie Ploppert.