Vocational Rehabilitation for Veterans With Felony Histories and Mental Illness: 12-Month Outcomes

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Abstract

Lack of employment is an important barrier to successful reintegration encountered by those released from prison with mental illnesses and/or substance use disorders. This study compares 3 different vocational reintegration modalities for a veteran population: (a) basic services; (b) self-study using the About Face Vocational Manual; and (c) the About Face Vocational Program, a standardized group program focused on the About Face Vocational Manual. One-hundred eleven veterans with a history of at least one felony conviction and a mental illness and/or substance use disorder were recruited from a large urban Veterans Affairs (VA) medical center. Veterans were assigned to 1 of the 3 conditions and followed for 12 months. At the end of the 1-year follow-up period, veterans in the group condition had superior competitive and stable employment rates, as well as faster times to employment compared with both the basic and self-study conditions. The self-study condition was generally indistinguishable from the basic services condition. Overall, new employment during the last 6 months of the follow-up period was relatively low. The findings support the use of standardized group vocational reintegration programs such as the About Face Vocational Program. Limitations and implications are discussed.

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