Employment and vocational rehabilitation experiences among veterans with polytrauma/traumatic brain injury history.

Jessica J. Wyse, Terri K. Pogoda, Ginnifer L. Mastarone, Tess Gilbert, Kathleen F. Carlson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Evidence suggests that Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans with polytrauma/traumatic brain injury (TBI) history and neurobehavioral symptoms may face difficulties returning to work, yet also encounter barriers to accessing, navigating, and engaging in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) vocational rehabilitation programs. This study utilized qualitative interviews and focus groups with veterans with documented polytrauma/TBI history to explore veterans’ perceived barriers to employment and vocational rehabilitation program participation, as well as to solicit thoughts regarding interest in an evidence-based vocational rehabilitation program, the Individual Placement and Support model of Supported Employment (IPS-SE). Veterans identified physical, emotional, cognitive, and interpersonal barriers to finding and maintaining work that they described as linked with their polytrauma/TBI symptoms and sequelae. Communication and logistical issues were described as the primary barriers to vocational rehabilitation program access, while barriers to program utilization included eligibility characteristics, fear of losing financial benefits, and a military-cultural belief of self-sufficiency that made help-seeking difficult. Finally, veterans endorsed key aspects of IPS-SE, such as staff serving as translators, advocates, and navigators of the job search and maintenance process. Policy recommendations are addressed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-74
Number of pages10
JournalPsychological Services
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020


  • supported employment
  • traumatic brain injury
  • veterans
  • vocational rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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