Jobs2Vets is a grant-funded work restoration and peer recovery program for Veterans receiving behavioral healthcare from the East Orange and Lyons Campuses of the Veterans Affairs New Jersey Healthcare System (VANJ). The primary goal of the Jobs2Vets program is to help substance-abusing and dual-disordered homeless veterans achieve and maintain employment, while preventing relapse and promoting improvement in overall mental health functioning.
We serve approximately 100 Veterans every year who are desiring to return to the workforce, but are suffering from chronic homelessness and unemployment, due to years of untreated mental health and substance abuse disabilities. We are different from other vocational rehabilitation and employment service programs, because all of our case-workers are in recovery, overcame barriers to employment, and re-established their independence from the VANJ.
In contrast to government programs, we offer personalized, proactive and patient-driven services that help Veterans return to the workforce. Furthermore, our credentialed peer and non-peer staff are experienced in the rehabilitation of Veterans from underserved minority groups who are experiencing health and behavioral health disparities.
The Jobs2Vets peer mentorship and recovery support model is increasing employment opportunities, promoting workforce development, and helping Veterans break the cycle of mental illness, substance abuse and chronic homelessness.
MTI IBD and the Jobs2Vets program are a part of the VANJ’s existing plan to end homelessness and increase employment. Jobs2Vets is a collaborative effort between MTI IBD, SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), the VANJ, and the Rutgers-Bloustein Center for Survey Research.
James Purcell, MPS
Peer Support Coach
“Being a Peer Support Coach gives me a chance to give back to my brother and sister Veterans in recovery. My own journey has taken me through addiction and even homelessness—and there were so many great people to help me get back on my feet. It is important for me to be there for other Veterans today and help them accomplish their life goals, just as I was helped.”
Efrain Mercado, CSW
Supervisor of Peer Support Coaches, Jobs2Vets
“As a veteran with a past history of homelessness and substance use, I find it extremely rewarding to find myself in a position where I can help others who were in my situation. SAMHSA has given me the opportunity to assist veterans with job placement, obtaining training and schooling, and volunteerism. It has been a pleasure to provide these services to Veterans who simply desire to get their life back in order. It is hard to explain the feeling that I get when I am successful in helping a Veteran find gainful employment or complete a training program.
Jobs2Vets’ Peer Support Coaches are in a unique position to give back and make a difference in the lives of forgotten heroes who are in recovery. The most rewarding aspect of my job is when a Veteran thanks me for my efforts and expresses how much they have gained.”