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Opening Statement of Hon. Joe Donnelly, Ranking Democratic Member, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

Occupational specialties have been an important part of the lives of our veterans, their identities are linked to their military occupation, therefore, illnesses that limit a veteran’s ability to work once they have transitioned out of the military can have a significant impact on their self-esteem. 

Being part of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs for the past 5 years, I am aware of the unique needs veterans with mental illnesses have.  Homeless veterans, veterans with brain injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health problems require a prolonged individualized rehabilitation plan.   Providing them a rehabilitation plan that will help them lead an independent life is important, providing them the tools they need to obtain meaningful employment, is even more and that’s why CWT is critical for these veterans. 

The benefits of the CWT program are many, it provides veterans with skills training, job development, placement services, and employment support.  But not a lot is known about this program and I fear that not many veterans know about this program as well.  Because a veteran must be referred by a clinician many veterans that would benefit from CWT are not aware of it and may not know to ask their doctor about it.

Recently, I came across a blog discussion on CWT, in it, most of the individuals talk about their positive experience and discussed their successful rehabilitation.  But there were a couple of individuals who said their local VA clinic was short staffed and didn’t provide the service and treatment they needed.  Programs like CWT need to be successful nationally, it is unfair for veterans to get poor quality treatment in some VA clinics while others get better treatment.  These regional disparities undermine the work VA is capable of providing. 

      I look forward to learning more about this program, the services you provide to our veterans in need, and what you are doing to provide consistent treatment to all veterans.