Compensated Work Therapy(CWT) is a Veterans Health Administration clinical vocational rehabilitation program offered at every VA medical center. The mission of CWT services is to provide support to Veterans living with mental illness or physical impairment with barriers to employment to secure and maintain community-based competitive employment.
CWT programs strive to maintain highly responsive long-term quality relationships with business, government agencies, and industry promoting employment opportunities for Veterans with physical and mental health challenges.
Hundreds of VA employees work hard every day to make these opportunities happen for Veterans. We recognize these employees during CWT Vocational Rehabilitation Recognition Week, which occurs annually during October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Every year, the exceptional CWT staff members are honored. As we observe this year’s Recognition Week (October 21-27), let’s take a look back at the Excellence in CWT Award winners from 2017.
Excellence in CWT Service Delivery
Congratulations to Beverly Maier from the North Chicago Compensated Work Therapy (CWT) program was selected as the 2017 Excellence in CWT Service Delivery award winner.
Maier would take a fifteen-mile ride to spend an entire day, in below freezing temperatures, to travel about the local community seeking vocational options for a Veteran who had no other means of transportation to support his employment goal.
She secured employment for 32 Veterans, many of whom have required multiple jobs. Her entire caseload was comprised of those Veterans coping with persistent and serious mental illness.
In 2015 she was nominated for the Rehabilitation Counselor of the Year Award and was promoted to the position of CWT Coordinator. She immediately revised the CWT discharge follow up survey utilizing statistical software. The goal is to expand this survey into a formal VHA research project to determine which vocational interventions best support sustained employment outcomes.
Maier is a tireless advocate for mental health recovery and vocational rehabilitation.
Excellence in CWT Leadership Co-Recipients
Congratulations to Kenneth Weber, CWT Manager at the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital and Mr. Rodger Woeppel, at the Black Hills Health Care System who were both selected as 2017 Excellence in CWT Leadership award winners.
Weber is an inspiring leader whose achievements over the last nine years as Hines’ CWT Program Manager have been monumental and include transforming a struggling CWT program into a world-class vocational Rehabilitation system of care, expanding the CWT program from serving only 48 Veterans in 2008 to 1,467 in 2016.
His CWT office has continued to expand services and access for Veterans to the Veterans Career Center which includes instructions in online job application processes, USA Jobs Account Setup and development of an Internet Cafe concept to allow Veterans to utilize the free patient access Wi-Fi to log in with their own personal devices.
Weber organized job fairs at Hines attended by as many as 600 Veterans and 27 employers (including FBI, DEA, Comcast, Marriott, and UPS).
As the Assistant Chief of the Mental Health office noted, “Ken has an impressive list of achievements, but perhaps more remarkable are the ‘little things’ he quietly does every day to encourage staff and Veterans, to handle difficult conversations, and to gently but persistently guide CWT forward.”
Army Veteran a Licensed Professional Counselor and charismatic presenter
The Black Hills Health Care System (BHHCS) covers a vast rural area with four reservations, nine Community Based Outpatient Clinics and two hospital facilities at Fort Meade and Hot Springs, S.D.
As program leader, Rodger Woeppel has made a name for himself in the communities served. An Army Veteran committed to serving Veterans, he is a Licensed Professional Counselor able to provide an array of services.
He is a charismatic presenter who provides excellent information, integrating recovery-oriented programming in a way that encourages others to do the same. In one presentation he introduced The Seven Bands of the Lakota using Lakota phrases and American translations.
In addition to his many duties, he manages transitional residence programs located in Sturgis, Rapid City, Hot Springs and Pine Ridge, S.D. He also manages the Domiciliary Care for Homeless Veteran program in Hot Springs and the operation of the Therapeutic and Supported Employment Services programs in McLaughlin, Eagle Butte, Ft. Meade, Rapid City, Hot Springs and Pine Ridge, S.D.
His presentations include the importance of community involvement and how he successfully created, developed, and manages a Mental Health Advisory Group made up of Veterans in a variety of professional fields and expertise.
Woeppel has integrated suicide prevention into Therapeutic and Supported Employment Services training and has excellent relations with the Suicide Prevention Team. Rodger recognizes his staff and Veterans for a successful transition to permanent employment and knows this saves lives. His commitment inspires his staff to provide excellent services each day.
CWT programs are located within all VA medical centers. Review the CWT Locations page to find site specifics.
About the author: Donna Tasker is the National Marketing Director for Therapeutic and Supported Employment Services in VA’s Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention
Feature image: This graphic was provided by Miranda Gabbard a Graphic Designer with VHA’s Office of Digital Media