Compensated Work Therapy Vocational Rehabilitation Week is a time when we acknowledge the more than 63,000 Veterans who benefit from the program each year. We salute the approximately 1,000 VA Compensated Work Therapy (CWT) vocational rehabilitation counselors, managers and peer support specialists who make their participation possible.
VA’s CWT services are integral to helping Veterans overcome employment barriers and return to meaningful employment. CWT programs are located at all VA medical facilities and focus on each Veteran’s strengths, abilities, needs, and preferences rather than on illness and symptoms.
“The Compensated Work Therapy (CWT) program taught me how to retrain my mind to doing the right thing, how to be a team player, and how to be accountable,” said Jerry Weaver, a CWT graduate and VA employee. “The CWT staff didn’t give up on me and kept welcoming me back with open arms.”
Weaver credits CWT with helping Veterans finding their way back from mental health, substance abuse, and other employment challenges.
Keith LaFlamme used TW to become an Environmental Health Technician for VA, and later a Maintenance Mechanic.
Keith LaFlamme is in the photo above. LaFlamme’s HUD-VASH case manager referred him to the CWT Transitional Work (TW) program. His case manager placed him in a TW position at the main clinic in Anchorage, Alaska. His success in the TW position landed him a job with VA in 2017 as an environmental health technician. In a short time, he exceeded income limits for the VASH program. His continued success has landed him another promotion as maintenance mechanic. During his time as a VA employee, he has been a mentor and a resource to other TW Veterans.
Focus on strengths, rather than illness
Weaver’s journey with CWT began in spring 2017 after completion of the Substance Treatment and Recovery (STAR) program at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center. Two years later, he was a full-time VA employee.
He says his current success contributes to the self-esteem, self-confidence and determination he gained through showing up for work each day. He is the perfect example of how important CWT can be for a Veteran’s wellness and recovery.
“They believed I could be a valuable commodity. Hopefully, I have proved myself to my teammates.” CWT has really helped me discover new things about myself. It helps Veterans find their way back from mental health and substance use issues.”
Weaver celebrated his one-year work anniversary in May 2020.
For more information about the benefits of VA’s CWT program, visit https://www.va.gov/health/cwt.
Doré Mobley is a communications specialist for the Veterans Health Administration.