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


This article discusses lack of employment as a barrier to transition and reintegration into the civilian community for veterans released from prison who have mental illnesses and/or substance use disorders.


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.

Full Reference

LePage, J. P., Lewis, A. A., Crawford, A. M., Washington, E. L., Parish-Johnson, J. A., Cipher, D. J., & Bradshaw, L. D., 2018. Vocational rehabilitation for veterans with felony histories and mental illness: 12-month outcomes. Psychological Services, 15(1), 56-64.