Impact of Substance Use Disorders on Employment for Veterans

Matthew E. Sprong, Heaven Hollender, Erina Paul, James Gilbert, Kenneth Weber, Amir Garakani, Frank D. Buono

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Approximately 1.1 million veterans meet criteria for substance use disorders (SUDs) with 1 in 4 struggling with illicit drugs, 4 in 5 struggling with alcohol use, and 1 in 13 struggling with both. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of SUDs on closure status (exiting with employment, did not exit with employment) for veterans served in a Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Health Administration (VHA) vocational rehabilitation (VR) program. Data (N = 2,620) from a VHA VR program in the Veterans Integrated Service Network 12 network were obtained for the purpose of the present study and consisted of veterans enrolled from 2012 to 2018. Findings showed that veterans without SUDs were more likely to exit with employment, and veterans enrolled in transitional work and community-based employment were more likely to exit with employment compared to those within supported employment (SE). Given that SE helps to serve veterans with the most severe psychological or medical conditions (e.g., active psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury), findings suggest veterans are more successful with less serious mental health conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-231
Number of pages10
JournalPsychological Services
StatePublished - 18 Jul 2022


  • employment
  • mental health
  • substance use disorders
  • veterans
  • vocational rehabilitation


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