Compensated Work Therapy (CWT) is a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) program that provides evidence based and evidence informed vocational rehabilitation services to eligible Veterans.
The goal is to help Veterans obtain and maintain local competitive employment in the community.
Research shows that employment is a critical protective factor against suicide, homelessness, and substance use. CWT is a vital employment and therapeutic work program that assists Veterans with job barriers caused by mental health or physical disabilities. The CWT program at the Washington DC VA Medical Center consists of the following components:
Transitional Work – Transitional Work is a pre-employment, vocational program that offers Veterans work experience in VA medical centers and partnering businesses and industry. CWT/TW participants are matched to actual work assignments for a time-limited basis.
Supported Employment – Supported Employment is intended for Veterans with significant barriers to employment due to psychosis or other severe mental illnesses such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and/or physical disabilities such as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Spinal Cord Injury (SCI). Veterans who can not function independently in employment without intensive, ongoing support services due to these types of injuries, are eligible for this program. This includes ongoing vocational assessments, rapid/individualized job search, job development and placement, assertive engagement and follow-along supports provided in the context of clinical treatment.
Community Based Employment Services - Community–Based Employment Services (CBES) is a program that is less intensive than Supported Employment and is not restricted to Veterans with diagnosis of psychosis. CBES provides a range of services leading to direct placement in competitive employment, where an employer hires the Veteran, and the Veteran receives continuing clinical support.
Washington DC VA Medical Center CWT Program Manager, Chantella Bowman, said the CWT team works closely with interdisciplinary teams throughout the medical center, and can witness how their service improves the overall quality of life for Veterans.
“We get to seen firsthand the life-changing effect that returning to meaningful employment has on Veterans,” said Bowman. “And it’s a ripple effect. When we get Veterans back to purposeful work, along with continued treatment by their healthcare providers, they begin to have less clinical symptoms, less inpatient hospital stays and increased interpersonal skills. We get to have an impact, and that motivates us every day.”
Veterans interested in participating in the CWT program should talk to their primary care provider about a referral.