Diffusion of Innovations Theory and Veterans of Color: A Framework for Promoting the Adoption of Effective State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies, American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Programs, and Veterans Affairs-Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment Co-Service Practices in Vocational Rehabilitation

By Johnson, Jean E.; Moore, Corey L. et al. | Journal of Applied Rehabilitation Counseling, Spring 2016 | Go to article overview

Diffusion of Innovations Theory and Veterans of Color: A Framework for Promoting the Adoption of Effective State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies, American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Programs, and Veterans Affairs-Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment Co-Service Practices in Vocational Rehabilitation


Johnson, Jean E., Moore, Corey L., Wang, Ningning, Sanders, Perry, Sassin, John, Journal of Applied Rehabilitation Counseling


United States (U.S.) Armed Forces veterans of color (i.e., African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asians) comprise about 20% (N=2,811,856) of the total population of veterans 18 years of age or older (U.S. Census Bureau, 2013). Of these veterans, approximately 10.9% (N=2,375,910) are African American, .7% (N=l52,581) are Native American, and 1.3% (N=283,365) are Asian or Pacific Islander. Latinos, who can be of any race, represent about 5.4% (N=l,177,056) of all living veterans. Remarkably, almost 33% and about 20% of veterans serving in Gulf War I (8/1990-8/2001) and Gulf War II (9/2001-present) were African American or Latino, respectively (National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics, 2013). Many of these veterans return from the military with varying physical, cognitive, or psychological conditions and disabilities (Madaus, Miller, & Vance, 2009; U. S. Census Bureau, 2013). For example, they have been shown to possess higher rates of health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, AIDS, and strokes compared to White non-Latinos (National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics, 2013). Remarkably, 36.4% of Native American veterans report having one or more disabilities while 18.9% have a service-connected disability rating (Indian Country Today Median Network, 2014). Additionally, Latino and African American veterans report greater odds for Independent Living (IL) service use than White veterans (Sheehan, Hummer, Moore, & Butler, 2012).

Upon return to civilian life, an issue of high importance to veterans of color with disabilities is becoming employed (Moore et al., 2015). The reintegration to occupational functioning and prevention of job loss is a major aspect of success (Bell, Boland, Dudgeon, & Johnson, 2013; Frain, Bishop, & Bethel, 2010; London, Heflin, & Wilmoth, 2011 ; Moran, Schmidt, & Burker, 2013). Indeed, according to Moran et al. (2013), war veterans perceive a delayed career as one of the most undesirable experiences in transitioning to the civilian workforce. As veterans transition to civilian life, they may require various vocational rehabilitation (VR) services to assist them in returning to work. Determining the most effective means by which to assist these veterans to obtain employment and secure career pathways is a relevant issue for rehabilitation professionals to address. State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies (SVRAs), American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Programs (AIVRPs), and the Veterans Affairs-Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VA-VR&E) program provide various employment and placement services that assist these veterans to secure employment. To date, scant literature is available relative to the need for effective co-service coordination between SVRAs and VA-VR&E programs, and AIVRPs and VA-VR&E programs.

Moreover, relatively little information is available in the literature as to which approaches are effective for promoting the adoption of such model co-service practices by SVRAs. There may be a need to examine the literature to determine and identify promising theoretical frameworks that might be considered to help promote the adoption of co-service practices by these agencies to enhance successful vocational rehabilitation outcomes for veterans of color with disabilities. The purpose of this review was to discuss the Diffusion of Innovations Theory as a possible framework for promoting the adoption of effective co-service best practice strategies and models within agency context (i.e., SVRAs, AIVRPs, and VA-VR&E programs). This article covers information relating to the following sub-topics: (a) SVRA, AIVRP, and VA-VR&E sponsored services; (b) need for interagency co-service practices; (c) effective existing co-service practices, and (d) Diffusion of Innovations Theory. A set of recommended approaches that can be considered for advancing the current state-of-the science on improving SVRAs and VA-VR&E, and AIVRPs and VA-VR&E program co-service strategies for placing veterans of color into employment and career pathways are presented. …

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Diffusion of Innovations Theory and Veterans of Color: A Framework for Promoting the Adoption of Effective State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies, American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Programs, and Veterans Affairs-Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment Co-Service Practices in Vocational Rehabilitation
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