After a motorcycle crash left Army Veteran William Arnold with serious injuries from head to toe, he decided it was time to take inventory of his life.
“I broke my collar, wrist, elbow, femur, pelvis, jaw, had a collapsed lung and a traumatic brain injury,” Arnold said. “But I also had TBI’s from the military.” Unemployed and with rising debt, he faced overwhelming stress.
Then, at the Richmond VA Medical Center, Arnold met Chelsea Grandolfo, a vocational rehabilitation specialist for the VA Compensated Work Therapy (CWT) program.
Vocational rehab specialist Chelsea Grandolfo helped Veteran William Arnold find his dream job.
Therapy with a focus on the Veteran
CWT helps Veterans get jobs, achieve goals and improve their well-being. The focus is on each Veteran’s strengths, skills, abilities, needs, goals and preferences. Every VA medical center offers the program.
“We figure out what the Veteran needs help with and how can we help them connect to employers,” Grandolfo said. She worked with Arnold to help build his confidence and ability to express the skills he knew he had.
“The CWT program helped me get my resume together, answered questions about what to expect in an interview and allowed me to bounce ideas back and forth about goals and what type of employment I want,” Arnold said.
After several interviews and months of networking, Arnold landed the job he wanted as a corrections officer. He says his job gives him a better quality of life than before. “I enjoy the things I do outside of work a little bit more since I started working.”
Plus, “I haven’t had a cigarette in three weeks. This job helped me to stop smoking and I appreciate that.”
“What do you have to lose?”
“What I love about these services is they are truly tailored to the individual,” said Grandolfo. “We provide care in whichever way is most accessible for the Veteran, whether it’s in their community, here at the hospital or via telehealth.”
For Veterans who are unsure about asking for help, Arnold’s advice is, “What do you have to lose? If you want to work, CWT can help you. I see no reason to not give it a try. Give it your all and see what happens. You will be proud of yourself. I know I am.”
Megan Kon is a public affairs specialist at the Central Virginia VA Health Care System. Kon joined the VA in 2014. She has a bachelors in journalism and advertising from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.