Benefits and Services

There are 5 types of Compensated Work Therapy (CWT) programs:

  • Incentive Therapy (not available at all CWT locations)
  • Sheltered Workshop (not available at all CWT locations)
  • Transitional Residence (not available at all CWT locations)
  • Transitional Work and Vocational Assistance
  • Supported Employment and Post-Employment Supports

Incentive Therapy Program

Incentive Therapy is a pre-employment program that provides a diversified work experience in a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical center for veterans who have severe mental illness or physical disabilities. This pre-employment program is not available at all Compensated Work Therapy (CWT) locations.

Incentive Therapy is available for as long as you need it and as long as it is considered to be clinically appropriate. The services may consist of full- or part-time work but wages are limited to half of the federal minimum wage.

Each participant has an individual treatment or service plan, case manager, and treatment team to monitor services.

Sheltered Workshop Program

The Compensated Work Therapy (CWT) program operates Sheltered Workshop programs in about 35 locations. It is the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA's) belief that sheltered workshops give veterans a chance to strengthen work skills and be assessed in a simulated work environment. Most veterans remain in a sheltered workshop for 4 – 6 months depending on the individual treatment team and service plan. Wages are based on a piece rate basis.

Transitional Residence Program

The Transitional Residence program is a work-based program that provides a therapeutic residential setting for veterans involved in the Compensated Work Therapy (CWT) program. The program provides a rehabilitation-focused residential setting for veterans recovering from chronic mental illness, drug or alcohol dependency, and homelessness. It provides a bridge between hospitalization or intensive outpatient treatment and successful community reintegration.

This program, which is not available at all CWT locations, differs from other Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)-operated residential programs. You will be required to pay your earnings toward the cost of operating and maintaining your residence and you'll be responsible for planning, buying, and preparing your own meals.

Transitional Work Program

Transitional Work is a vocational assessment program that operates in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Centers and local community businesses. Veteran participants are matched to real life work assignments for a limited time basis. Veterans are supervised by personnel of the sponsoring site, under the same job expectations as other workers.

Participating veterans may have mental or physical disabilities, be homeless, or have been diagnosed with substance abuse problems. All participants have an individual treatment or service plan and receive vocational case management. You must be referred by VA vocational services in order to participate.

If you participate in this program, you are not considered an employee of the VA or the company in which you work. Thus, there are no employee benefits.

Supported Employment Program

The Supported Employment program identifies veterans' strengths and matches those skills and abilities to industries job requirements. Specifically, the program combines competitive employment with the therapeutic supports that you need to help you work. The focus of this program is to help veterans who have serious mental illness gain access to employment.

Limited supported employment services may be available on a case by case basis to veterans who have spinal cord injuries or traumatic brain injuries and also have a mental health diagnosis.

Supported employment follow-up may continue indefinitely, but supports are usually phased out once you are able to remain employed without help.