Erie VA offers a unique benefit during this economic downturn to both Veterans and community employers through the Compensated Work Therapy (CWT) vocational rehabilitation program.
Since November of 2007, the CWT program has provided opportunities for eligible disabled Veterans and Veterans with other barriers, to participate in a variety of job assignments in a structured, therapeutic environment. The ultimate goals of CWT participants include gainful community employment, increased independence, and enhanced quality of life.
"Work is beneficial for self-esteem, pride, and self-worth," says Maryann Kunath, CWT Coordinator. "The CWT program helps Veterans get involved in the community while reintegrating them into the job force."
For community employers, the CWT program offers an effective cost management option since the VA covers employee benefit costs, insurance costs, and social security taxes.
How does it work? The CWT program partners with interested community employers to provide motivated, reliable Veterans who can perform a wide range of work assignments to employers’ specifications and satisfaction. The CWT program is made up of two components –transitional work experience (TWE) and supported employment (SE).
TWE provides Veterans with short term placements, usually six months or less. Employers often use TWE workers to complete time-limited or temporary work without adding permanent staff, to provide on-the-job training at reduced cost, and to evaluate prospective employees prior to hiring.
SE is designed to help Veterans find and maintain competitive, permanent employment in the community. The SE coordinator provides on-going support and assistance, including job coaching and mentoring to help maximize the success for both the Veteran and employer.
Veterans will be assessed to see which CWT path, TWE or SE, would be most beneficial to them. Many Veterans have secured full time employment through CWT program.
“I can’t say enough good things about this program,” says Bob Brooks, Store Manager of Tops Market in Meadville. “The Veteran we have here is one of my best employees, he is punctual, reliable - I can’t say enough. I definitely encourage other employers to work with the CWT program.”
Employers of the CWT program include the YMCA, Lowes, Home Depot, West, Camp Sherwin, Vantage, Tops Market, Sears, and a number of other organizations.
Erie VA’s CWT program is currently seeking additional employers to partner with local Veterans in the Erie, Ashtabula, Crawford, Venango, Warren and McKean counties. If you are interested in becoming an employer for CWT Veterans, call the Erie VA CWT program at 814-860-2008 to learn more.