Veterans learning to transfer skills acquired through service into everyday living

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The V.A. is working on expanding their wraparound services for veterans; making sure those who’ve served have access to more than just healthcare but also programs to help them excel in all parts of their lives.

One of those programs is compensated work therapy.

“It allows us to help them by providing some compensated work that they can use to get back on their feet and back into society,” says Paul Crews, the Interim Healthcare System director.

Crews, a U.S. Navy vet, says the skills veterans learn in the military are ones many employers are looking for when hiring.

“They’re dedicated to the mission,” starts the director. “They’re getting things done. They have a lot of integrity.”

Still, for years, veterans have felt as if employers didn’t want to hire them.

“Nobody wants to take a chance on vets anymore and it’s not fair,” said Kerry Witherspoon, a U.S. Army Veteran.

Witherspoon spent 6.5 years serving his country; doing a tour in Germany.  The 55-year-old lives with non-combat related PTSD.

“PTSD can be to the point where they no longer want to exist. That’s where I was.”

For years, he didn’t leave his house. That is, until his doctors at the V.A. suggested he looks into CWT. He completed the program six months ago and now works as a cook in the V.A.’s cafeteria.

“What that program did was set me up for that job because I didn’t know how to work after being isolated for three years.”

Witherspoon says, while many in society made him feel alone and left behind, those at the V.A. never have and it’s because of that and them he’s learning to live with his PTSD.

“If I had issues, they were there for me.  I wasn’t left out there alone.” 

 

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