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Opening Statement of Hon. Bill Johnson, Chairman, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

Good morning. This hearing will come to order. 

I want to welcome everyone to today’s hearing titled “Is it Working: Reviewing VA’s Compensated Work Therapy program.” 

The Compensated Work Therapy, or CWT, program is one of the VA’s vocational rehabilitation programs designed to assist our warfighters back into the workforce.  The program is specifically geared toward veterans who have suffered from mental illness, delivering a tailored approach for re-employment that provides support and guidance through the process. 

In a time of high unemployment, especially among veterans, we all must make every effort to match qualified workers with suitable jobs.  The CWT program does just that, matching disabled veterans with employers. 

When done correctly, the CWT program is a “win-win.”  We know of several success stories, including the program in Bedford, Massachusetts, that has partnered with over 15 community businesses.  The businesses benefit from having qualified workers adding to productivity, and the veterans benefit from being employed.  However, we also know of situations where little, if any, emphasis is placed on the program.  Few partnerships are made with the community, and in the end it is the veteran who suffers. 

We share a common goal of assisting our veterans to reenter the workforce.  A discussion on what the VA can do to sustain successful programs and rejuvenate struggling ones, in addition to what Congress and this Committee can do to help, will better enable us to achieve that goal. 

It is also my hope that today’s hearing will provide the Subcommittee with a clear picture of the structure of the CWT program, from its national leader all the way down to the individual veteran at a VA facility. 

I also look forward to today’s testimony and the chance to discuss how we can ensure that the CWT program is rolled out consistently and effectively all across the country.  How can successful programs share their best practices with struggling programs?  How can national oversight be improved?  What kind of metrics are needed to effectively gauge success?

It’s not good enough merely to have well-intentioned programs.  We need effective ones that consistently deliver results and improve the lives of our veterans.

I now yield to Ranking Member Donnelly for an opening statement.