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Veterans Affairs Canada’s Salute! is now a monthly e-newsletter.


Veterans Affairs Canada’s Salute! is now a monthly e-newsletter.


  • Salute! October 2021

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    October 2021

    Please share this e-mail with your friends and contacts.

    Let us know what you think about the new Salute! by emailing us.


    In this edition:


    Programs and services


    World Mental Health Day

    World Mental Health Day is October 10. This day is a time to educate and raise awareness of mental health issues around the world. Did you know that in 2020, 71% of Veterans who received disability benefits for a mental health condition had PTSD?

    Mental health is important for well-being and quality of life. There are a variety of resources to help Veterans, family members and caregivers take care of their mental health:

    • VAC Assistance Service is available 24/7 to Veterans, former RCMP members, their family members, or caregivers, including those who aren’t clients of VAC. Get support right now from a mental health professional by calling 1-800-268-7708 (TDD/TYY: 1-800-567-5803).
    • Operational stress injury clinics provide in-person and virtual assessment, treatment and support to address mental health issues related to service. Veterans, CAF and RCMP members can access the clinics through referral. Family members may also receive or participate in some of the services provided through the clinics.
    • Operational Stress Injury Social Support (OSISS) is a national peer support network that provides social support to CAF members, Veterans and their families who are living with the impacts of an Operational Stress Injury .
    • Pastoral outreach services are available to Veterans or their immediate family for spiritual support if they are dealing with end of life issues, or experiencing loss of a loved one.
    • The HOPE Program is another resource where bereaved families can obtain confidential peer support by connecting with families who have gone through a similar experience as their own.
    • The Veteran Family Program connects medically releasing and released Veterans and their families to community supports.

    Veteran success story


    Roger Chabot: Veteran artist

    Retiring from the Canadian Armed Forces allowed Roger Chabot to pursue his lifelong passion full-time, while keeping him connected to his military family.

    Read about how Roger’s CAF career inspires his art.

    Veteran success story: Roger Chabot - Veterans Affairs Canada


    Engagement with the Veteran community


    Rehabilitation Program: Let’s Chat!

    Are you a Veteran or family member with experience in our Rehabilitation Program? If so, we want to connect with you to hear how we can improve our rehabilitation services. Please reach out by 31 October 2021 to share your thoughts and perspectives.

    We are looking for a broad group of Veterans and their families, including those who identify as Indigenous, a racialized group, LGBTQ2+ and persons with a disability, to ensure our rehabilitation service delivery is inclusive and equitable.

    Over the next several months, you’ll be invited to virtual discussions in the official language of your choice. The goal is to understand how proposed changes to the Rehabilitation Program would affect program participants. Sessions will last 30 minutes to an hour.

    In your email, please include any accessibility requirements you may have so that we can best support your participation.

    Know a Veteran or family member who may want to chat? Tell them about these discussions too, so that everyone has the chance to participate.


    Indigenous Veteran rocks Indigenous Day Live 2021

    More than 500,000 people watched Chief Petty Officer (Retd) Debbie Eisan on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) on Indigenous Day Live this summer. It’s one success of the new partnership between APTN and Veterans Affairs Canada.

    In her 60-second video, Chief Petty Officer, 2nd Class (Retd) Eisan spoke about her experience as an Indigenous Veteran. It highlights the many sacrifices Indigenous Veterans have made to Canada.

    Indigenous Day Live is the nation’s largest event in recognition of National Indigenous Peoples Day, June 21. Cultural and musical performances bring Canadians together in celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ unparalleled contributions to Canada.

    Learn all about this year’s Indigenous Day Live.


    The Faces of Freedom Podcast series will return

    Stay tuned for a brand new edition of our Faces of Freedom Podcast series coming your way just in time for Veterans’ Week 2021.

    If you haven’t had a chance yet, check out our previous series covering a wide variety of stories from generations of Canadians.


    Commemoration


    Deadline approaches for Commemorative Partnership Program Community War Memorial funding

    Is your community looking to create or expand on an existing war memorial? Look no further than our Commemorative Partnership Program.

    Don’t miss out! November 1 is the deadline for Commemorative Partnership Program applications for community war memorial projects.

    The Commemorative Partnership Program can provide financial support for projects commemorating the achievements and sacrifices of those who served Canada. Your community can help create a lasting legacy to remember our Canadian heroes.

    For more information on eligibility and how to apply, visit our website, or contact the Commemorative Partnership Program directly.


    Bring the spirit of Remembrance Day into your classroom

    We have new learning resources for students of all ages, just in time for Veterans’ Week.

    Our popular classroom materials are now available in both print and digital formats. Best of all, they’re free.

    The deadline for ordering print editions to make sure they reach you by Remembrance Day is October 27.

    We have a limited number in stock, so submit your order today. Because when they’re gone, they’re gone!

    Learn more here.


    Do you know other Veterans, family members or others who would benefit from the information in this newsletter? Feel free to share it with them.


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  • Let's Talk Veterans-September 2021

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    September 2021

    Please share this e-mail newsletter with your friends and contacts.

    Let us know what you think about the new Salute! by emailing consultation-consultation@veterans.gc.ca.


    In this edition:


    Programs and services


    Veterans struggling with events in Afghanistan

    The current situation in Afghanistan is distressing for many Canadians, Veterans and their families, especially for those who served there. During this time, Veterans may be asking themselves difficult questions or revisiting experiences and relationships formed during their service or deployments. Their families may be struggling along with them.

    In reaction to current events in the region, Veterans may:

    • feel frustrated, sad, and helpless
    • feel distressed and preoccupied
    • feel angry or betrayed
    • experience moral distress
    • struggle with questions of the meaning of our time in Afghanistan
    • experience an increase in symptoms of operational stress injuries like PTSD or depression
    • sleep poorly
    • increase alcohol or drug use, or participation in other addictive behaviors
    • overconsume or try to avoid media
    • isolate themselves
    • have more disturbing memories and nightmares about military service
    • worry about those left behind.

    All of these reactions are understandable in this distressing context. If you are a Veteran or a family member struggling in reaction to current events, please know that you are not alone. Talk to your friends and family members, connect with your Veteran network and peer support resources, or contact a mental health professional.

    Resources available right now:

    • Crisis Services Canada: If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide, please call 1‑833-456-4566 to talk safely and judgement-free. If this is an emergency, call 911.
    • The VAC Assistance Service: Call 1-800-268-7708 to speak to a mental health professional for psychological support. Available 24/7 at no cost to Veterans and their family members.
    • OSI Clinics and Satellite Service Sites: Services include in-person and virtual mental health assessment and treatment to address mental health issues related to service, or that interfere with your rehabilitation. To request a referral, send a secure message via your My VAC Account, or call 1-866-522-2122.
    • Operational Stress Injury Social Support (OSISS): Talk to a peer support worker who understands operational stress injuries and can offer support.
    • HOPE program: Helping Our Peers by providing Empathy provides you and your family with peer support if you have experienced the loss of a loved one.
    • Wellness Together Canada: This online mental health and substance-use support portal provides 24/7 access to free evidence-based tools and resources.
    • PTSD Coach Canada: This mobile app can help you learn about and manage symptoms that can occur after trauma.

    Some positive strategies:

    • Stay connected. Spend time with people who best understand what you are going through, and who give you a sense of security, calm, hope and happiness.
    • Contact the various resources available to you
    • Practise good self-care. Look for positive strategies that help you manage your emotions. Listening to music, exercising, practising breathing routines, spending time in nature or with animals, or journaling are some common ways to help manage overwhelming or distressing emotions.
    • Be patient with yourself. Understand that it takes time to recuperate.
    • Stick to your routines. It can be helpful to stick to a schedule for when you sleep, eat, work, and do other day-to-day activities.
    • Limit media exposure. Limit how much news you take in if media coverage increases your distress.

    Shortening processing times for benefits decisions

    To make decisions on your application for disability benefits, VAC decision makers need access to your health information. We are working with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to allow select VAC decision makers access to health information on the Canadian Forces Health Information System (CFHIS). This gives them more direct access to the specific information they need to make decisions. The goal is to speed up delivery of benefits.

    The CFHIS houses most of the health information for serving CAF members as well as Veterans who served since 2012. In 2018, we began working with the CAF on a solution that would provide up to 50 VAC decision makers with direct access to view and extract key information from the CFHIS.

    Protecting your personal information and privacy is paramount. That is why decision makers access the CFHIS information only with Department of National Defence (DND)-issued laptops connected to the DND secure network.

    Visit the Disability benefits page to find out how you can apply and our efforts to reduce wait times.


    World Suicide Prevention Day: September 10

    Asking for help can be hard, but connecting with someone who cares can make all the difference in the world. Please know that you are never alone.

    If you or someone you know is at risk for suicide, Crisis Services Canada provides a safe and judgement-free place to listen and talk. Please call 1-833-456-4566 anytime, or text 45645 between 4 p.m. and midnight ET. If you or someone you know are in immediate danger, call 911.

    World Suicide Prevention Day is September 10. It’s an opportunity to raise awareness of suicide and to promote action to reduce the number of suicides and suicide attempts through proven means.

    Do a buddy check. Reach out to a friend or loved one today and let them know that you’re there for them.


    The Shining Light of HOPE marks 15 years

    Losing a loved one is one of life’s most difficult experiences. For family members of Canadian Armed Forces members and Veterans living this reality, their grief isn’t always fully addressed by bereavement programs.

    The Helping Our Peers by Providing Empathy (HOPE) program offers compassionate understanding and confidential support by pairing volunteers who have lost a loved one in the military with a bereaved military family newly coping with a loss. In this peer-to-peer model, HOPE helps both those who volunteer and those they mentor as they work through their grief together. Peer support has shown to have a significant impact on emotional healing and family well-being.

    The program seeks to demystify grief and provides family members with realistic and honest expectations so they can learn how to cope with their loss. It is available to adult family members in the military and Veteran community. The loss doesn’t have to be as a direct result of military service and it doesn’t have to be recent.

    If you or someone you know is grieving the loss of a military loved one and needs support, please contact HOPE at 1-800-883-6094, or email HOPE-ESPOIR@forces.gc.ca.

    Learn more at HOPE.


    Let’s Talk Veterans: Online Engagement at VAC

    2,700 Veterans have their say

    Thank you to all who participated in the first two online consultations, on the future of remembrance in Canada, and on the application process for disability benefits. The Let’s Talk Veterans platform provided Veterans, families, organizations and stakeholders with the opportunity to make suggestions and provide feedback.

    Stay connected at Let's Talk Veterans and stay tuned for upcoming consultations. Your voice matters—and we want to hear from you!


    Save the date: Virtual discussion series on military sexual trauma

    Military sexual trauma (MST) has impacted the lives of many still-serving and former CAF members. Join the Canadian Military Sexual Trauma Community of Practice, McMaster University's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences and the Centre of Excellence on PTSD for two live symposiums on military sexual trauma.

    Clinicians, academics and people with lived experience will discuss such topics as: supports, treatments and resources for those affected by MST, creating a common definition for military sexual trauma and culture change in the CAF.

    If you are a researcher, clinician, policy-maker or frontline worker, or if you have been impacted by MST, please tune in to these free events:

    Services and Supports for People affected by Military Sexual Trauma: Thursday, 16 September 2021 from 1:00 – 3:30 Eastern Time

    A Path Forward: Thursday, 23 September 2021 from 1:00 – 3:30 Eastern Time

    To find out more or to register, check out the Centre of Excellence on PTSD’s website.


    Commemoration


    Commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of Britain

    This year marks the 81st anniversary of the Battle of Britain during the Second World War. From July to October 1940, a small group of Allied fighter pilots took to the skies against the much larger German Luftwaffe. The first major battle was fought exclusively in the air.

    More than 100 Canadian pilots served in the skies over the United Kingdom during the four months of aerial combat. Twenty-three died in the battle, which was a key turning point in the war. The Allied victory in the Battle of Britain thwarted the planned German invasion of Great Britain.

    In Canada, we commemorate the Battle of Britain on the third Sunday of every September. Listen about the battle from Gilbert John Hyde who was there.


    Remember Canada’s Merchant Navy

    Merchant Navy Veterans Day was September 3, when we pay homage to the sailors who put themselves in harm’s way to ensure vital supplies reached Europe during the Second World War.

    More than 12,000 people served in Canada’s Merchant Navy during the war. They played an important role in supplying Allied forces in Europe with equipment, fuel, supplies and personnel needed to achieve victory.

    The casualty rate amongst merchant mariners was high as they sailed across the frigid and perilous North Atlantic. The heavily-laden, slow cargo vessels offered tempting targets for enemy U-boats. Some 1,600 members of the Canada’s Merchant Navy were killed, and 59 Canadian-registered merchant ships lost.


    Celebration of life for Canada's first female general, BGen Sheila Hellstrom

    Brigadier-General (Retired) Sheila Anne Hellstrom CD, BSc, LLD, a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Veteran and the first Canadian woman to reach the military rank of Brigadier-General, passed away in Ottawa, Ontario on 7 December 2020.

    There will be a livestreamed celebration of her life on 23 September 2021 at 1 p.m. ET. Click here to register.

    BGen Hellstrom was born in Lunenburg, NS, in 1935. Her military aspirations were kindled during the Second World War after hearing many stories about military life from the Norwegian sailors located at Camp Norway, a military training base in Lunenburg.

    In 1954, Hellstrom joined the RCAF University Reserve Officer Training Plan at Mount Allison University. She was promoted to the rank of Flying Officer in 1956 and began her RCAF career in Manitoba as Gimli Station Services Officer.

    In 1973, then Major Hellstrom became the first military woman to attend the Canadian Forces Staff College in Toronto. In 1980, she became the Deputy Director Women Personnel and supported and monitored the Service Women in Non-Traditional Employment and Roles (SWINTER) trials.

    On 19 June 1987, she became the first woman to achieve the rank of Brigadier-General and assumed the role of Director General Military Personnel. Brigadier-General Hellstrom’s career culminated in 1989 with an assignment as Chair of the Committee on Women in the NATO Forces. After her military retirement in 1990, Sheila continued to champion the recruitment and full integration of military women by serving on the Minister of National Defence’s Monitoring Committee on Change.

    You can learn more about BGen Sheila Hellstrom on our website.


    Do you know other Veterans, family members or others who would benefit from the information in this newsletter? Feel free to share it with them.


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  • Let's Talk Veterans-August 2021

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    August 2021

    Please share this e-mail newsletter with your friends and contacts so they can keep up on issues that matter to Veterans and their families.

    Let us know what you think about the new Salute! by emailing consultation-consultation@veterans.gc.ca.


    In this edition:


    Programs and services

    Mental Health support for Afghanistan Veterans

    If you or a loved one are having difficulty coping with the news of the fall of Panjwaii in Afghanistan, mental health supports are available to you. You are not alone. You can call the VAC Assistance Service at 1-800-268-7709 to speak to a mental health professional. It is free and available 24/7.

    You can learn about additional mental health resources on the VAC website. You can also hear from the Acting Chief of Defense Staff on the situation in the Maple Leaf.

    Veterans served—and sacrificed—in the war in Afghanistan. Long after Canada’s combat role in the country ended, the mission continues to touch those who served in the region and their families.

    We will continue to honour and remember their sacrifices.


    New employment tool for Veterans

    A new online tool can connect you directly with employers looking for the skills gained through military service.

    The recently launched Hire a Veteran LinkedIn group is for Veterans and CAF members preparing to release, who are seeking career opportunities directly with employers.

    Public service and private sector organizations have begun posting jobs to the group, looking specifically for employees with the types of skills gained through military service.

    Join the group and stay tuned for regular postings. Veterans and military members looking for new careers can also create a LinkedIn personal account and follow the Veterans Affairs Canada LinkedIn page for information about webinars, career fairs and other opportunities to connect with employers.


    More options for education and training support
    The Education and Training Benefit now offers more funding options for Veterans pursuing technical education.

    As of 30 June 2021, Veterans may receive funding for courses shorter than 12 weeks that meet all other technical education funding requirements. To qualify, courses must be:

    • offered by a recognized institution
    • offered to the Canadian public
    • conducted online or in a public forum, and
    • publicly advertised.

    This change means more flexible funding options for technical education in fields like heavy equipment operations, professional driver training, safety and rescue training and others.

    Funding for completed technical education courses cannot be approved retroactively, but students are encouraged to apply for upcoming periods of study.

    For more information, have a look at the Technical Education section of the Education and Training Benefit FAQs.


    Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund

    Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund accepting new applications for funding

    If you are part of a private, public or academic organization wishing to do research or create a project to improve the lives of Veterans and their families, are invited once again to submit new applications for funding from the Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund, to create projects or conduct research.

    Applicants should submit projects that focus on supporting Veterans during the post‑COVID‑19 recovery, including addressing homelessness, unemployment, retraining, and health challenges. Veterans Affairs Canada welcomes applications from equity-seeking groups that serve women and LGBTQ2+ Veterans.

    The Government of Canada has committed $15 million over the next three years to the Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund. Check out our funding guidelines and apply. Applications will be accepted until 1 October 2021.

    Did you know?

    Since 2018, the Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund has provided more than $25 million to help over 60 organizations improve the lives of Veterans and their families. These organizations work to address issues and concerns of Veterans in areas like homelessness, mental health, the transition to post-service life, supporting women Veterans, and more.


    Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund supports new initiatives

    The Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund (VFWF) continues to support initiatives that advance the well‑being of the Veteran community. This summer, Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, announced funding for more organizations that are working to improve the lives of Veterans and their families.

    You can find all the details on the organizations that have received VFWF support on Veterans Affairs’ Funding Recipients – 2021 page.


    Veteran success story

    “Re-tooling” your career

    Many of those who release from the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) worry that their military skills and experience won’t count for much when they start a new, post-service career. Certainly that was on the mind of Reserve Sergeant Drew Semper. But after releasing from the Regular Force as an avionics technician, he grew his skillset and is now an electrician’s apprentice in the private sector.

    Drawing from his own experience, he has some advice for CAF members approaching release from service.

    Read Drew’s full story and advice.


    Commemoration

    Faces of Freedom podcast returns

    Our Faces of Freedom podcast is back this summer, with a new series focused on the experiences of Canadian peacekeepers. Every Tuesday in August, we’ll release a new episode. We’ll feature those who’ve served on peacekeeping missions around the world, in places like the Balkans, East Timor and many more.

    You can subscribe through your favourite podcasting app by searching for Faces of Freedom, or check out our podcast webpage.


    Please share this newsletter

    Do you know other Veterans, family members or others who would benefit from the information in this newsletter? Feel free to share it with them.


    Follow us on social media:

    Facebook: VAC

    Facebook: Canada Remembers

    Twitter

    YouTube

    Instagram

    LinkedIn

  • Let's Talk Veterans-July 2021

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    July 2021

    Please share this e-mail magazine with your friends and contacts so they can keep up on issues that matter to Veterans and their families.

    Let us know what you think about the new Salute! by emailing consultation-consultation@veterans.gc.ca.


    In this edition:


    Thank you for your input

    Thank you to everyone that participated in the Disability Benefits Application Process consultation. We have received great feedback on how to improve the application process.

    Now, we are reviewing the information you provided. We expect to have recommendations for improvements developed this summer, and will publish them on the Let’s Talk Veterans page when completed.

    We hope that you enjoy your summer and look forward to additional opportunities to consult with you in the future.


    Thinking of going back to school after your military career? Consider the Education and Training Benefit

    The Education and Training Benefit can be a part of your successful transition to life after service. It provides financial support to achieve your education and training goals. This is a great way to round out the skills you developed during your service with the Canadian Armed Forces.

    You can use this benefit for:

    • a full-length program toward a diploma, degree, or certificate

    • training that leads to a certification or designation

    • short courses for career and personal development.

    The Education and Training Benefit is taxable, and once you’ve finished your education or training, you can apply for a $1,000 completion bonus.

    Applying is easy. You can follow the guided form in My VAC Account, a secure online portal, or download the form and send it in by mail.

    Visit veterans.gc.ca for more information about the Education and Training Benefit, including how to qualify and getting started with the application.


    Apps to support Veteran mental health

    Apps for our mobile smart devices help us connect with loved ones for support and information, and even support mental health. They can connect us easily to evidence-based information and guidance that can help us take care of our mental health.

    Here are some mental health-focused apps and websites specifically designed for Veterans:

    LifeSpeak: a self-help website with videos and information about mental health, nutrition and other issues that matter to you.

    Wellness Together Canada: COVID-19 continues to affect and challenge Canadians in a number of ways. Whatever you’re going through, Wellness Together Canada is available to provide mental health and substance use support with a range of resources. It also has tools to help you track your progress.

    OSI Connect: a mental health learning and self-management app developed to help operational stress injury (OSI) patients and their families understand the nature of operational stress injuries and to provide help through the OSI Clinic Network across Canada.

    PTSD Coach Canada: mobile app can help you learn about and manage symptoms of PTSD.

    HighRes: Developed by Australia’s Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the HighRes app can help still-serving members, Veterans and their families build their resilience and mental fitness. The app contains easy-to-use tools to help set goals and practice skills.


    Veteran success story

    Melanie St-Jean: Finding the missing link after service

    Melanie (Mel) St-Jean followed her dreams to a successful military career. By many measures, as a mother and independent business owner, she also had success in life after service. Still, this Army and Navy Veteran felt something was missing. Reconnecting with military Veterans has empowered Mel to pursue new dreams.

    Read Mel’s full story.


    We’re stronger thanks to the Veteran Family Program

    Life after service isn’t always easy. Jo Anne Truskoski and her husband Michael are no strangers to the challenges a military family can face.

    Michael is a 35-year Veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces. He released for medical reasons in 2012, and suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other health challenges.

    In 2018, the Veteran Family Program, the local Military Family Resource Centre, and Louise, their Veteran Family Program Coordinator, stepped up to help.

    Thanks to this continuing support, Jo Anne and Michael participated in a Mental Health First Aid course as well as the Couples Overcoming PTSD Everyday (COPE) program, designed to help couples overcome the effects of PTSD.

    For those who may be on the fence about contacting the Veteran Family Program, Jo Anne has the following advice: “Stop thinking about it and do it… you will be glad you did!”


    August 9 is National Peacekeepers' Day

    Peacekeeping is an important part of our country’s military tradition—and our Canadian identity.

    More than 125,000 Canadians have served in peace missions around the world.

    Peacekeeping is difficult and demanding. From patrolling buffer zones to protecting refugees, our peacekeepers face situations and challenges that would be unimaginable to many of us at home.

    On August 9, let’s take a moment to thank our country’s peacekeepers who sacrifice so much to help make the world a better place.


    Be heard! Join one of the six ministerial advisory groups

    Review of applications for the six Veterans Affairs Canada Ministerial Advisory Groups will begin on July 22, 2021. There is still time to bring your voice and share your perspective on important issues related to one of the ministerial advisory groups:

    • policy
    • service excellence and transition
    • mental health
    • care and support
    • families, and
    • commemoration.

    To learn more and to apply, visit ministerial advisory groups.


    Get support for your commemoration

    Are you and your organization planning any commemorative activities or initiatives? Veterans Affairs Canada can provide financial support.

    Our Commemorative Partnership Program is there to provide financial support for projects commemorating the achievements and sacrifices of those who served Canada.

    Need inspiration? Check out some our previously funded projects:

    You have until 1 October 2021 to apply for any projects taking place in 2022–2023 and requesting more than $10,000. Requests for $10,000 or less continue to be accepted on an ongoing basis.

    For more information, including eligibility and how to apply, visit our website, or contact the Commemorative Partnership Program directly at cpp-ppc@veterans.gc.ca.


    Open Forum: Chronic Pain Centre of Excellence for Canadian Veterans

    The Chronic Pain Centre of Excellence for Canadian Veterans’ first Open Forum was held Tuesday, 6 July 2021. This event featured a review of the research and work accomplished in 2020–2021, the first year of operation for the Centre. The Forum also described the research goals and plans for 2021-2022.

    You can watch the recording of this hour-long open event at the Chronic Pain Centre of Excellence’s website.


    Have you completed the Census?

    It’s not too late to complete the 2021 Census! Complete your census and help your community plan for the services you want and need.

    For more information, or to complete your census questionnaire, visit the census website at www.census.gc.ca.


    Follow us on social media:

    Facebook: VAC

    Facebook: Canada Remembers

    Twitter

    YouTube

    Instagram

    LinkedIn

    Flickr

  • Let's Talk Veterans-June 2021

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    Please share this e-mail magazine with your friends and contacts so they can keep up on issues that matter to Veterans and their families.

    Let us know what you think about the new Salute! by emailing vac.consultation-consultation.acc@canada.ca.


    In this edition:

    • Indigenous Veteran Debbie Eisan to be featured on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network
    • Honouring the memory of Indigenous Veterans
    • Pride Week: June 8–11
    • Veterans share experience of applying for disability benefits
    • Help applying for benefits and services
    • Be heard: join one of the six ministerial advisory groups
    • Why do the Battles of Beaumont-Hamel and the Somme matter to you?
    • Veteran recommends the Veterans Independence Program
    • Veteran success story despite harassment
    • Veteran success story: David Fraser
    • Join the Navy Bike Ride

    Indigenous Veteran Debbie Eisan to be featured on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN)Indigenous Veteran Debbie Eisan will be featured in a 60-second video airing on APTN, with the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, for the Indigenous Day Live event on 20 June.

    Indigenous Day Live is Canada’s largest event celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day.

    Veterans Affairs Canada has a new partnership with APTN. It’s an opportunity to raise awareness about programs and services to an Indigenous-based audience. The partnership also recognizes the significant contributions of Indigenous Veterans. Through this partnership, we are increasing engagement with Indigenous communities and Indigenous Veterans across the country.

    The partnership will be renewed for the Indigenous Day Live in 2022, when we hope to attend in person, engaging directly with Indigenous Veterans and the communities that support them.

    Follow VAC on social media and the web for updates on events.


    Honouring the memory of Indigenous Veterans

    Indigenous peoples have always had an important place in our military history, even though many needed to overcome barriers to serve in uniform.

    The contributions of First Nations, Métis, Inuit and other Indigenous peoples are woven through every conflict and every era: from the thousands who answered the call during the First and Second World Wars, to those who served in Afghanistan and in peace missions around the world.

    Join us this month as we remember all the Indigenous people who have served Canada, and how much our country honours them for their service.

    Learn more at our Indigenous Peoples Remembrance page.


    Pride Week: June 8–11

    LGBTQ2 Veterans have played an important role in our country’s military efforts, and continue to contribute to our rich history and heritage.

    Pride Week took place June 8 to 11. We invite you to read more about women and LGBTQ2 Veterans.

    • Listen and read about engagement of the LGBTQ2+ Veteran community.
    • The Office of Women and LGBTQ2 Veterans was established to contribute to advancing gender equality, diversity and inclusion for LGBTQ2 Veterans.
    • In 2020, VAC hosted the LGBTQ2+ Roundtable virtual series.
    • Veteran Patti Gray was pushed out of the Canadian Armed Forces during the LGBT purge. She excelled in her post-military career also continued a life of service to her community. Today she proudly wears her Pride Citation as a badge of honour.
    • Filmmaker Sarah Fodey’s documentary, The Fruit Machine details personal accounts of former public servants affected by the LGBT purge.

    Veterans share experience of applying for disability benefits

    We are collecting valuable insights into improving the application process for VAC disability benefits. To better understand their first experiences in applying for benefits, Veterans Affairs Canada is holding a consultation with Veterans, former RCMP and still-serving CAF members, their family members, until 17 June 2021.

    This consultation is done through our Let’s Talk Veterans consultation platform, focusing on first applications. We’ve heard from hundreds of Veterans so far, and we want to hear from you too!

    To read a report on the consultations when it’s published, and to stay connected on Veterans’ issues, visit Let’s Talk Veterans.


    Help applying for benefits and services

    Would you like advice or guidance when applying for VAC benefits or services? They’re available, free of charge.

    You can get free guidance with your application by contacting:

    • a Command Service Officer at the Royal Canadian Legion at 1-877-534-4666 (You don’t have to be a member; visit their website for more information)
    • VAC through My VAC Account secure messaging
    • Veterans Affairs Canada at 1-866-522-2122.

    Be heard! Join one of the six ministerial advisory groups

    Are you passionate about making a difference for Veterans? Interested in speaking up about issues and sharing your perspective? Then join one of VAC’s ministerial advisory groups.

    Ministerial advisory groups at Veterans Affairs Canada are your opportunity to share your knowledge, expertise, and experiences with the Minister to help guide change and improve services for Veterans and their families.

    We are currently seeking Veterans, Canadians, and stakeholders from diverse backgrounds and experiences across Canada who want to make a difference.

    Bring your voice and share your perspective on important issues to one of the ministerial advisory groups:

    • policy
    • service excellence and transition
    • mental health,
    • care and support
    • families, and
    • commemoration.

    To learn more and apply, visit ministerial advisory groups.


    Why do the Battles of Beaumont-Hamel and the Somme matter to you?

    Even after 105 years, the Battles of Beaumont-Hamel and the Somme during the First World War resonate throughout Canada.

    As we approach the 105th anniversary of those battles, we want to hear from you why they still matter today.

    More than 24,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders were killed, wounded or missing during the battles. With so many lives cut short, Canada and Newfoundland were forever changed.

    Please share your thoughts. You can join the conversation on social media using:

    #Somme105
    #BH105
    #CanadaRemembers.

    Learn more here.


    Veteran Howard Elson benefits from the Veterans Independence Program

    Howard Elson has experienced his share of action and adventure in his 31-year career with the Canadian Army’s Artillery division. His advice to CAF members and Veterans in life after service is to take advantage of all the benefits and services available.

    Mr. Elson joined the Army from his home in Newfoundland and served with the Artillery in postings was posted across Canada, and even on the Rhine river in Germany. He achieved the rank of Master Corporal, and then in the Reserves Rangers, rose to Lieutenant.

    An accident in 1979, while working with 155mm artillery shells, left Mr. Elson with a permanent back injury. He transitioned out of the CAF and pursued a number of opportunities, including as a training officer for the Canadian Rangers.

    Now 78, Mr. Elson receives support like snow removal and assistance around his Nova Scotia home through the Veterans Independence Program.

    He encourages any Veteran who feels they might benefit from the program to apply. “By all means, look into it. I’ve been happy with what the program has to offer, and it’s always easy to get answers if ever I have questions.”

    If you’d like to know more about what the Veterans Independence Program can do for you, please click here to visit our website.


    Veteran success story

    Todd Ross: Success in spite of harassment

    Todd Ross had loved the military since childhood. As an adult, he excelled in his position in the Royal Canadian Navy—until he was dismissed in 1990, through no fault of his own, caught up in the LGBT purge.

    Since then, Todd has applied his considerable talents and skills to build an impressive career. He also helped lead the class action that led to an apology to LGBT members and compensation.

    A life in the military

    Todd Ross joined the Army Cadets in his home town of St. Stephen, New Brunswick, just before his thirteenth birthday. “I absolutely loved it,” he remembers. The Cadets took him to Germany, among other adventures. When he got older, he became a summer instructor with the organization.

    Read Todd Ross’s whole story here.


    Veteran success story: David Fraser

    Retirement doesn’t mean doing nothing

    Major-General (Ret) David Fraser, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan, has excellent advice for those about to transition from military service.

    As Corporate executive, bestselling author and financial mentor at one of Canada’s leading business schools, Major-General (Retired) David Fraser has certainly had a successful career after his time in uniform. His post-military career focuses on guiding fellow Veterans and current members of the Canadian Armed Forces through various post military activities.

    Read his full story.


    Join the Navy Bike Ride

    Do you roll?

    If you love to bike, join the 2021 Virtual Harry DeWolf Challenge.

    The annual Navy Bike Ride challenges everyone on two, three or more wheels to ride a cumulative 30,000 kilometers to raise money for the Royal Canadian Naval Benevolent Fund and Support Our Troops.

    The 2021 Navy Bike Ride runs June 21 to August 28. Find out how to join and share at NavyBikeRide.ca.

  • Let's Talk Veterans-May 2021

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    Let us know what you think about the new Salute! by emailing vac.consultation-consultation.acc@canada.ca.


    In this edition:

    • Budget 2021 highlights for Veterans and families
    • Results are in: 2020 VAC National Client Survey
    • Commemorating the 20th anniversary of Canada’s peacekeeping mission to Timor-Leste
    • Commemorating Canadians of Asian heritage
    • Veteran success story: Transition tips from a Veteran who did it twice
    • Veteran and Family Well-being Fund makes real differences for Veterans
    • LGBTQ2 Action Plan
    • My VAC Account tips: Information to include in your benefit applications
    • Business boot camps for transitioning CAF members and Veterans
    • Commemoration calendar

    Federal Budget 2021 and Veterans

    The federal government’s Budget 2021, A Recovery Plan for Jobs, Growth and Resilience, includes a number of items that affect the Veteran community. These include:

    • a program that will cover the mental health care costs of Veterans with PTSD, depressive, or anxiety disorders while their disability benefit application is being processed
    • additional funding to expand and enhance the Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund for projects that will support Veterans during the post COVID-19 recovery, including addressing homelessness, employment, retraining, and health challenges
    • a pilot project for peer support groups for CAF members and Veterans who experienced sexual misconduct during their careers
    • additional money to eliminate homelessness among Veterans and across Canada
    • permanent changes to standards for long-term care in all provinces and territories, to ensure seniors and those in care live in safe and dignified conditions
    • supporting a trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder stream of mental health programming
    • continued resources to reduce wait times and develop more efficient processes for disability benefits applications and decisions
    • consultations on reforming the eligibility for federal disability programs and benefits
    • new funding for community-informed initiatives to overcome issues facing LGBTQ2 communities, such as accessing mental health services and employment support.

    For more details on Budget 2021 on Veterans, families and stakeholders, visit Budget 2021.


    Results are in: 2020 VAC National Client Survey

    Research helps provide better support to Veterans and their families

    Most Veterans and families are generally satisfied with VAC’s programs and services, but there are significant groups expressing less satisfaction than the average, according to the 2020 VAC National Client Survey.

    More than 3,000 Veterans, CAF and RCMP members, and survivors answered the survey last year. This was more than double the number who answered the 2017 survey, allowing for more detailed analysis.

    Here are a few survey highlights:

    • 80% of respondents are generally satisfied with our programs and services
    • 69% are satisfied with their overall well-being
    • Indigenous and visible minority Veterans interviewed were generally less satisfied and rated their VAC experience less positively than overall results
    • Veterans who are ages 65 and younger and have case managers are generally less satisfied than other participants, and many report feeling down or depressed.

    We will focus on understanding these results to improve our programs and how we deliver services to you.

    Our heartfelt thanks to all Veterans and clients who shared their experiences, letting us know what’s working and what needs improvement. We couldn’t have done this without you!

    You can read the results here.


    20th anniversary of Canada’s largest peacekeeping mission to East Timor

    On May 12 twenty years ago, Canada’s largest peacekeeping operation since the Korean War came to an end.

    After years of escalating violence, the United Nations sent a multinational force to restore peace and security to East Timor (now known as Timor-Leste), a small tropical country in the Timor Sea between Australia and Indonesia. From 1999 to 2001, more than 650 Canadians troops helped stabilize the region and delivered critical humanitarian aid to the people of East Timor.

    Join us at Canada Remembers as we look back on Canada’s role in this important mission.


    Asian Heritage Month

    Canadians of Asian heritage have a proud legacy in our military. They have served with courage and conviction, overcoming barriers along the way.

    While our military is now more diverse and inclusive, this was not always the case. Hundreds of Chinese Canadians proudly served in the First and Second World Wars, despite facing discrimination and injustice at home. Their efforts helped pave the way for greater equality in our military and Canadian society.

    May, Asian Heritage Month in Canada, is an opportunity to recognize the many contributions of Asian-Canadians today and throughout history.

    Join us throughout the month to celebrate our soldiers, sailors and aviators of Asian heritage and honour their many sacrifices for our country. Visit the People and stories page for more.


    Transition tips from a Veteran who did it twice

    Having done it twice, Andrei Roberge knows the difference between a good transition to life after service and one that’s … not so good. He has a few tips to offer any CAF member who is looking at transition soon.

    Like many Veterans, Andrei’s career in the Canadian Armed Forces took him around the world. Today, he continues to operate internationally, planning logistics and managing operations for Team Rubicon. This organization mobilizes Veterans to continue their service, leveraging their skills and experience to help people prepare, respond, and recover from disasters and humanitarian crises, around the world. These can range from hurricanes in the Caribbean to flooding in Alberta, and any place in between.

    Read Andrei’s full story.


    Making a real difference

    Since 2018, the Veteran and Family Well-being Fund has helped organizations start up programs that are helping improve the lives of Veterans across Canada.

    Read about some of the Veterans and families who have improved their lives through some of these innovative initiatives, including:

    • Shaping Purpose
      Helping Veterans and others find a new direction after retirement.
    • A New Dynamic Enterprise
      For women Veterans, soon-to-release CAF members and spouses of Veterans, Transitions Lifeshops seminars to form support networks for life after service.
    • Helmets to Hardhats
      Helping Veterans to find training, apprenticeships and employment in the construction and maintenance industry.

    Read the full article.


    Attention LGBTQ2 civil society organizations: have your say

    If you’re part of an LGBTQ2 civil society organization, the Government of Canada wants to hear from you about the Federal LGBTQ2 Action Plan.

    The Government is asking groups to share views on policies and programs, and suggest new measures that could be undertaken as part of the Action Plan.

    LGBTQ2 service members and Veterans have played an important role in our country’s military efforts over the years and continue to contribute to its rich history and heritage. We want to ensure that your voices are captured in this Action Plan.

    Please take a moment and have your say. Please present written submissions through this online form by 31 May 2021.

    The Government of Canada launched the first Federal LGBTQ2 Action Plan public engagement process in November 2020. Activities are underway to help us all better understand the daily realities of LGBTQ2 people in Canada in areas such as employment, healthcare, housing and homelessness, and safety.

    An online LGBTQ2 survey closed on 28 February 2021 with over 22,000 people responding.


    My VAC Account tips

    What to include when applying for a disability benefit

    A completed application for a disability benefit will show that you have a diagnosed medical condition (or disability) and that your condition is related to your service.

    Here are some tips to help make your application as smooth as possible.


    Business boot camp

    Operation Entrepreneur is offering a virtual business boot camp to help transitioning Canadian Armed Forces members and Veterans advance their entrepreneurial skills and knowledge. The next session takes place from 10–24 June 2021. The deadline to apply is 31 May 2021.

    For more information, visit Princes Trust Canada - Boot camp.


    Next month

    • Celebrating Canada’s Indigenous Veterans
    • 105th anniversary of the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel
    • Pride Week
    • Veteran success stories

    Commemoration calendar

    Asian Heritage Month
    May 1–31
    Commemorating the contributions of Veterans of Asian heritage
    Canadian Jewish Heritage Month
    May 1–31


    VE Day
    May 8
    The 76th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe
    Armed Forces Day
    May 15
    On the occasion of the U.S. honouring its Armed Forces members and the contributions of Canadians
    Aboriginal Awareness Week
    May 25–28
    To increase awareness of Aboriginal peoples, including Indigenous Veterans
    National Indigenous History Month
    June 1–30
    Recognizing the historic contributions of Indigenous peoples to Canada
    National Indigenous Peoples Day
    June 21


  • Let's Talk Veterans-April 2021

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    Please share this e-mail magazine with your friends and contacts, and encourage them to register by visiting letstalkveterans.ca to keep up on issues that matter to Veterans and their families.

    Let us know what you think about the new Salute! by emailing consultation-consultation@veterans.gc.ca.


    In this edition:

    • COVID-19 vaccine roll-out
    • Tax time info for Veterans and families
    • Veteran and Family Well-being Fund recipients announced for 2021
    • Coming up for Veterans
    • Life after service: Luc Therrien finds his way back home
    • Census 2021 makes an impact for Veterans
    • Commemoration: 70 years after the Battle of Kapyong
    • Veteran success story: Patti Gray finds recognition and fulfillment after a long journey
    • Do you have questions about career transition?
    • PTSD Coach Canada can help you manage symptoms
    • Canada Remembers: The virtual panel series

    Do you know how to get your COVID-19 vaccine?

    Where, when and how to get your COVID-19 vaccines varies greatly, depending on where you live, how old you are and the state of your health.

    Visit the Public Health Agency of Canada for everything you need to know about COVID-19 and vaccines. Reading, acting on and sharing the agency’s information could save lives.

    Stay in the loop by subscribing to their weekly COVID-19 newsletter or following them on social media.

    Stay safe and stay healthy!


    It's tax time!

    Did you know certain benefits paid to Veterans—such as disability benefits based on pain and suffering—are tax-free? Others, like the Income Replacement Benefit and the Education and Training Benefit, are taxable.

    You may have received the following tax forms (depending on your individual situation) for your 2020 return:

    • T4A—how much taxable income was earned and how much tax was submitted (under one of VAC’s taxable benefit programs)
    • RL-1—tax information if you pay taxes in Quebec or receive benefits under the Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP) in Quebec
    • RL-2—also for reporting Quebec income and tax withheld from Veterans benefits
    • NR4 – for those who reside abroad.

    Income on these documents may appear larger than the amount you actually received. That’s because they reflect total gross amounts of all taxable programs.

    VAC clients were sent their tax forms February 22. These forms are also available on My VAC Account. If you have NOT received your tax forms, please call 1‑866‑522‑2122.

    Helpful resources for preparing your tax return:

    General Income Tax and Benefit Guide (Canada Revenue Agency)

    Guide to the Income Tax Return (Revenue Quebec)

    Free or pay-what-you-can software and free tax clinics are also available to many Veterans.

    Make sure you are getting all the tax benefits and deductions you are entitled to!


    Helping Veterans through the Veteran and Family Well‑Being Fund

    In March, Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay announced 23 organizations that are receiving financial support from the Veteran and Family Well-being Fund (VFWF) for work and research in Veteran homelessness, mental health, the transition to life after service, supporting women Veterans and other vital areas.

    You can learn about the organizations and their projects at our VFWF 2021 recipients page.

    Read about how Veterans are benefitting from projects that received funding in the past.


    Coming up in May

    • Virtual Victory March, 1–9 May. Canadians can participate in a traditional march alongside CAF members to commemorate the Nijmegen Marches, highlighting the symbolic relationship between Canada and the Netherlands. See more on the Victory March page.
    • Mental Health Week, 3–9 of May. Watch the website for tips, information and resources for the mental health of yourself and your loved ones.
    • 76th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, 8 May 2021.

    Join the virtual Victory March

    The Victory March is a walking challenge May 1-9 where Canadians can participate in a traditional march alongside CAF members. This virtual CAF-led event supports and shares in Canada’s military teams’ preparation of Nijmegen Marches, which highlights the symbolic relationship between Canada and the Netherlands.

    To participate, pick two days from May 1 to 9 to complete your two-day march challenge - and sign up for one of four walking challenge marches (with different distances and even a weighted ruck-style march)!

    Sign up on the event page.


    Life after service

    Finding his way back home

    “I don’t know where I would be today if it wasn’t for the military,” says Luc Therrien, (Ret’d) Adjutant.

    “I was going down a really bad path and the military set me straight” confirms Luc.

    Luc is so thankful for what the military brought to his life because he had given up. He desperately needed some stability. He found structure, a sense of belonging and a pride that he never knew could exist. He became confident and disciplined while gaining a family from the get-go.

    However, Luc’s successful military career left him deeply scarred after witnessing some of the most gruesome realities of war. Life would never be the same. Images would forever haunt him.

    Integration into life after service did not go smoothly, and Luc found himself living on the streets of Montréal. Lacking support and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Luc experienced many challenges. Read the article for the full story.


    Making an impact for Veterans through Census 2021

    Whether you’re a serving Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) member or a Veteran, please identify your service status on the 2021 Census short-form questionnaire when it arrives in May. Every completed questionnaire helps create a clearer picture of the Veteran and CAF community, which is vital in developing policies, services and benefits that serve the community best.

    Many groups and organizations across Canada look to the national census results to help them make important decisions that affect their families, neighbourhoods and businesses.

    If you’re a Veteran or CAF member, complete your census as soon as you receive it. Completing the census questionnaire online is secure and easy.

    For more information, visit www.census.gc.ca.


    Marking the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Kapyong

    This month, we observe the 70th anniversary of a defining moment in Canadian military history.

    Called up from reserve to the Kapyong Valley during the Korean War, the 2nd Battalion of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry stood fast in the face of unimaginable conditions as they helped to prevent a costly defeat for the South Korean and United Nations forces. On unforgiving terrain against a fiercely determined enemy, the outcome of the Battle of Kapyong could easily have been different, as the Canadians held off a force several times their own size.

    Of the 516 Canadians who lost their lives during the war, 10 were killed in the Battle of Kapyong. Another 23 were wounded, and others returned home carrying the burdens of war with them for the rest of their lives.

    The holding of the line at Kapyong was a testament to the bravery and sacrifice of those who so valiantly served in defence of peace and democracy in Korea.

    Join us in commemorating this important anniversary at www.veterans.gc.ca/canadaremembers


    Veteran Success Story

    Recognition and fulfillment in life after service, and after a long journey

    Veteran Patti Gray anticipated a long and rewarding career in the Canadian Armed Forces. However, bigotry and eventually, the LGBT purge pushed her out. She excelled in her post-military career also continued a life of service to her community. Today she holds her head high and proudly wears her Pride Citation as a badge of honour. #VeteranSuccessStory.

    Read her story on Veteran Success Stories.


    PTSD Coach Canada can help you manage symptomsThe PTSD Coach Canada is an app for your smart phone or mobile device that helps Veterans manage their symptoms. Family and friends can also benefit, too.

    Download the app for:

    • reliable information on PTSD treatment
    • tools for screening and tracking symptoms
    • tools for managing stress
    • information on crisis support

    Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder that occurs when someone witnesses or experiences a traumatic event. Treatment consists of therapy, medication, or a combination of both. Individuals are also taught coping skills to more effectively deal with stress and manage PTSD symptoms, much like the skills taught in the PTSD Coach Canada mobile app.

    Don’t have a mobile device? No problem. You can get all the information and treatment tips from the PTSD Coach Canada from the VAC website.


    Canada Remembers: The virtual panel series

    Take part in a virtual panel to learn more about the experiences of Canada’s Veterans and our military history.

    The Canada Remembers virtual panel series invites all Canadians to deepen their understanding of our armed forces’ contributions over the years.

    March’s panel discussion featured three Canadian Armed Forces Veterans discussing how to recognize and commemorate the Canadians who have served more recently.

    The next virtual panel to be held later in April, “Remembrance in the Digital Age,” will focus on digital activities and initiatives, and new ways to educate and engage a younger audience in the virtual world.

    You can register for future panels and watch the full discussions at The Canada Remembers: The virtual panel series page.


    Do you have questions about career transition?

    You can access a range of assistance in making the transition to a new career after release, from finding a new job that matches your experience and skills, to planning further education and training for a different kind of career.

    Start at our Career Transition Services page to find career counselling, as well as help to write your resume and prepare for job interviews.

    You can also find services and assistance for families, such as financial planning workshops and the Military Family Resource Centres across the country on the Veteran Family Program page.


    Help us reach more Veterans and families

    If you have served in the Canadian Armed Forces or RCMP, you may qualify for VAC programs or services that can support your financial, educational or family’s well-being.

    You may have seen more information in media and online information throughout March. Please help us reach as many people as possible by sharing information with your networks. Our goal is to ensure all Veterans and their families know that services and supports are available.

  • Let's Talk Veterans-March 2021

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    Veterans Affairs Canada’s magazine, Salute! is now an e-newsletter. Please share this e-mail with your friends and networks, and encourage them to register by visiting letstalkveterans.ca to keep up on issues that matter to Veterans and their families.

    Let us know what you think about the new Salute! by emailing vac.consultation-consultation.acc@canada.ca.


    International Women’s DayWe marked International Women’s Day in Canada and around the world on 8 March. The day is an opportunity to reflect on the progress made towards gender equality and to celebrate those who have played a role in advancing this goal. It is also a chance to raise awareness of the work left to be done.

    Women have served in Canada’s military for more than a century. Overcoming many barriers to serve in uniform, they’ve paved the way for future generations while making the world a safer, more equitable place.

    Meet two of these strong women: Corporal (Ret’d) Francine Beaudry and Sergeant (Ret'd) Marjorie (Worby) Stetson. Serving in the Canadian Women’s Army Corps (CWAC) in the Second World War, Stetson worked to help break enemy coded messages. More recently, Beaudry served in the Canadian Armed Forces for 18 years, including deployments to Egypt and Germany, and provided communications support to Canadians serving in the Gulf War from Canada.

    Get to know more of the women who served our country by visiting our web feature, They Proudly Served.


    Virtual Veterans panel – How should Canada commemorate our post-Korean War military efforts?

    Join us for an approximately one-hour exploration of this subject at 1:00 pm ET on 19 March 2021. Our virtual panel will feature three Canadian Armed Forces Veterans sharing their personal reflections: Lieutenant-General (ret’d) Lloyd Campbell, Lieutenant-Colonel (ret’d) Chris Hutt and Sergeant (ret’d) Geneviève Gauthier.

    To register, email us at vac.education-education.acc@canada.ca before March 15. Please indicate if you wish to watch in English or French.


    PPE and other Treatment Benefits options during COVID-19There are some things to know about Treatment Benefits during this pandemic period.

    Since the beginning of COVID measures in early 2020, you may have the cost of personal protective equipment (PPE – like masks) covered for medical appointments, including protective equipment for a medically required escort or family member joining you for an appointment.

    Virtual healthcare and telehealth are also accepted as an alternative to in-person medical appointments.

    For services other than prescription drugs (like physiotherapy or counselling) you don’t need to renew your prescriptions.

    To learn more about the Treatment Benefits options available to you during the pandemic, please check out our list of FAQs.


    Mental health and your familyFamily members play an important role in their loved one’s well-being and recovery. As a family member of a Veteran, it’s also important for you to take care of your mental well-being.

    There are a variety of services available to support your well-being, including:

    • Operational stress injury clinics which take a family approach to support treatment and well-being.
    • Operational Stress Injury Social Support (OSISS) provides a national peer support network for CAF members, Veterans and their families, close friends or caregivers.
    • VAC Assistance Service is available 24/7 to family members of Veterans, including those who aren’t clients of VAC. Call 1-800-268-7708 (TDD/TYY: 1-800-567-5803) to talk to a mental health professional.
    • Pastoral outreach programs are available to you for spiritual support if you are experiencing loss of a loved one.
    • HOPE program is another resource where you can connect with families that have gone through a similar experience as your own.
    • Veteran Family Program connects medically releasing and released Veterans and their families to community supports.

    Caring for your own mental health is the first step in supporting others. Remember that your well-being matters and that we have services available for you.


    Offer feedback on Canada’s proposed accessibility regulations

    Proposed Accessible Canada Regulations are now available in Canada Gazette, Part I.

    These proposed regulations provide details on how federally regulated entities must prepare and publish an accessibility plan, progress report, and feedback process, as required by the Accessible Canada Act (ACA). The proposed regulations also establish a framework for administrative monetary penalties.

    Canadians now have until 19 April 2021 to offer feedback on the proposed regulations. Information on how to provide feedback can be found in Canada Gazette, Part I.

    If you have any questions, please reach out to accessible-canada@hrsdc.gc.ca.


    Help us improve My VAC Account

    You are invited to participate in a short survey to let us know how we can improve My VAC Account and its features. For this study, we are collecting feedback from My VAC Account users to better understand how they use the platform and what other business they would like to do online.

    Your input is important to us. Thank you for helping us improve My VAC Account.

    https://phoenixspi.qfimr.com/MyVACAccount-MonDossierACC


    Transitioning to life after serviceThe road to life after service can be challenging. We are working with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to make the transition experience as seamless and stress-free as possible.

    Together, we have been exploring a new approach to transition focused on the individual needs of members and their families. A trial started at CFB Borden in February 2019, expanded to CFB Petawawa on 17 February 2021, and it will continue to roll out across the country over the next few years.

    As part of this new approach, each member has direct access to a transition advisor who can help you create a transition plan that suits your needs and goals.

    If you’re not in Borden or Petawawa, there are still many programs and services available such as the Education and Training Benefit and Career Transition Services.

    Your drive, courage, and determination are what brought you success in the CAF. The transition trial and our career, education, and financial programs are options to help you in life after service.


    Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund recipients to be announced soon

    Over the past two years, the Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund has provided organizations with funding to support initiatives and research in areas like Veteran homelessness, mental health, and the transition to life after service. The most recent call for applications closed last month and we will soon announce the latest projects and organizations to receive funding.

    Shaping Purpose received support from the fund in 2018. Veteran Owen Parkhouse says Shaping Purpose helped him and his family set personal, post-retirement goals and make a realistic plan to achieve them. Read more about Owen and other success stories on our website.


    Help us reach more Veterans and families

    If you have served in the Canadian Armed Forces or RCMP, you may qualify for VAC programs or services that can support your financial, educational or family’s well-being.

    We will be promoting some of our services throughout March using advertising in the media and online.

    Please help us reach as many people as possible by sharing information with your networks. Our goal is to ensure all Veterans and their families know that services and supports are available.


    Sexual harassment at CAF-DND

    If you experienced sexual harassment, sexual assault, gender or LGBTQ2+ discrimination in a CAF-DND workplace, you may make a confidential claim for financial compensation and participate in a restorative engagement program.

    Learn more: caf-dndsexualmisconductclassaction.ca/

  • Let's Talk Veterans-February 2021

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    Veterans Affairs Canada’s magazine, Salute! is now an e-newsletter. Please share this e-mail with your friends and networks, and encourage them to register by visiting letstalkveterans.ca to keep up on issues that matter to Veterans and their families.

    Let us know what you think about the new Salute! by emailing vac.consultation-consultation.acc@canada.ca.


    Celebrating Black History Month—The Niagara Military Museum’s Black Military History Travelling Exhibit

    February is Black History Month. Often having to overcome great challenges just to enlist in the military, the sacrifices and achievements of Black Canadians over the years have shone through.

    The Niagara Military Museum recently unveiled the Black Military History of Niagara Traveling Exhibit to share the stories of Black Canadians who served. The exhibit is tailored to youth and features personal stories of service from the First and Second World Wars, Korean War, Afghanistan, and other conflicts.

    Read more about this interesting project: https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/art-hub/niagara-military-museum

    Interested in learning more about the Black Canadians who have served our country? Be sure to visit the Peoples and Stories section on our website.


    30th Anniversary of the end of the Gulf War

    We are fast approaching the 30th anniversary of the end of the Gulf War on 28 February.

    Veterans Affairs Canada has created an online space to mark this important anniversary and honour the Canadians who served in this conflict. The web page features a series of learning resources, profiles of Veterans who served in the conflict, a web gallery and more.

    Take a look to learn about the history and the people who participated: https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/wars-and-conflicts/gulf-war/30th-anniversary

    Do you remember when Canada joined the war effort in the Gulf War? Share your memories to recognize the brave Canadians who served in this conflict, using the hashtags #CanadaRemembers and #GulfWar30.

    If you would like to share your story with us, please email vac.engagement.acc@canada.ca.


    Update on efforts to reduce wait times

    Reducing wait times for disability benefit applications is our number one priority. We understand why Veterans and their families are frustrated, and we are making changes to address these concerns head-on. In June 2020, we released a strategy to address the long-standing issue of wait times for disability benefits decisions: Timely Disability Benefits Decisions: Strategic Direction for Improving Wait Times.

    Veteran Benefit Teams

    One of the ways we’re working on reducing wait times outlined in our plan is by creating new Veteran Benefit Teams. These teams include Disability Services Assistants, Benefits Program Officers and Disability Adjudicators–-the people who move applications from intake to adjudication to payment.

    The pilot Veteran Benefit Team completed decisions in 17 weeks, compared to the previous 50.5 weeks; while it’s still early days with full implementation of this structure, we expect to see similar gains in the operationalized VBTs.

    Spike Teams

    Since the release of our plan, Spike Teams have also been hired, trained (virtually) and, as of January 2021, have started to make decisions on disability benefit applications. One quarter of these employees are French or bilingual.

    With the addition of Spike Teams, we expect to significantly reduce the number of claims waiting beyond the 16-week service standard by the end of March 2022.

    We are tracking progress and providing regular updates on our efforts to address wait times, which you can find in our Disability Benefits Processing Summary Report. As the efforts of the Spike Teams ramp up, the progress should show in future quarterly reports.


    Fighting the COVID-19 blues

    Mental health and substance use supports are more important than ever as Canadians deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a difficult time, but you aren’t alone. If you need support with mental health or substance use issues, resources are available to you and your family.

    Wellness Together Canada was launched with the challenges of COVID-19 in mind. Funded by the Government of Canada, this online mental health and substance use portal is led by three of Canada’s leading mental health and substance use organizations—Kids Help Phone, Homewood Health and Stepped Care Solutions.

    You can access free, confidential and immediate parenting, mental health and substance use support 24 hours a day. The portal contains resources and tools to support the well-being of people of all ages in English and French. It connects you and your loved ones with qualified mental health and substance use professionals or volunteers, depending on the type of assistance you need.

    Creating an account is simple and the information you provide is kept strictly confidential. Once your account is created, you can do a five-minute mental health self-assessment to tailor your wellness resources to your unique mental health journey. The self-guided courses, e-learning tools and one-on-one counselling are all available to you for free. There is also a dedicated phone line, accessible through the home page, to speak with Program Navigators that can help identify resources that best fit your needs.

    The VAC Assistance Service (1-800-268-7708) is also available for former members of CAF and the RCMP, their families and caregivers. It is a confidential and free service, available 24/7, that offers psychological support by trained mental health professionals.


    What We Heard: Veteran Community Consultation

    Veterans Affairs Canada recently consulted Veterans and their families who are not currently served by the Department on how we can improve our communication and outreach to all former military members.

    The final report from this public engagement is now online at: https://letstalkveterans.ca/veteran-community-consultation

    Thanks to everyone who participated in this engagement and shared information with your networks.


    Listening to your Feedback: Cannabis for Medical Purposes

    One of our readers asked about Cannabis for Medical Purposes. Generally speaking, Veterans who have qualified for disability benefits and have a medical authorization from their healthcare practitioner may be reimbursed for cannabis for medical purposes. Visit our website for the details, including the policy, FAQs, and more.


    Veterans Independence Program: Stay in charge of life

    There are times when we could all use a hand. Whether it’s shoveling snow during the winter, keeping your property in good condition during the summer, or help with housekeeping, meal preparation and personal care, the Veterans Independence Program is here for eligible Veterans.

    The Veterans Independence Program can also provide you with professional health and support services that will give you the freedom and quality of life you deserve. These services include transportation to and from appointments, long term care, ambulatory healthcare (assessments, diagnostics, and activities) and more.

    Applying for the Veterans Independence Program is easy. If you have qualified for a disability benefit or the War Veterans Allowance, receive the Prisoner of War Compensation, or qualify for (but can’t access) a Contract Bed, you can apply directly through your My VAC Account. You can also download the form and mail it to us.

    Our goal with the Veterans Independence Program is to make sure your life after service is as independent and fulfilling as possible. You take the lead – we’re here to back you up whenever you need a hand.


    The Veterans Organizations Emergency Support Fund

    The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Canadians across the country hard and in different ways. Each passing month brought new challenges and forced us to adapt quickly to new ways of working and living. This has been especially true for organizations that serve Veterans and their families.

    Veterans organizations play a critical role in the lives and well-being of Veterans and their families, as well as the communities in which they are located. These organizations also provide support for homeless Veterans and those with disabilities. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Veterans organizations haven’t been able to go into the community and hold events or run charity drives due to health and safety restrictions. Falling charitable donations and general revenue has meant some of these organizations risk closing their doors forever.

    The Veterans Organization Emergency Support Fund was launched in November 2020 to help organizations who have been hit hard financially. The $20 million fund supports charitable and non-profit Veterans organizations that have lost revenue because of the pandemic. This funding means organizations can continue their work during a time when it is needed most.

    This funding forms part of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan to protect millions of jobs, provide emergency support to families, and keep businesses afloat throughout the pandemic.


    Veteran profile: Col. (Retired) Mark Gasparotto

    Each month, we will bring you a Veteran’s story. Browse our full collection of profiles on our People and Stories page.

    The sooner, the better: When to start thinking about life after service

    Col. (Retired) Mark Gasparotto spent 20 years in the Canadian Armed Forces before he released from service. By the time he turned in the last of his kit and signed all the necessary paperwork, he had been thinking about his transition for a decade.

    Here are five pieces of Col. (Retired) Mark Gasparotto’s advice:

    1. Pay attention to choices you make that have long-term implications

    Mark is a trained engineer. He spent his career sweating the details, whether he was leading the construction of Route Summit in Zhari / Panjwayi or commanding the 2 Combat Engineers Regiment at Petawawa. He paid similar attention to the life choices he made during his military and post-military careers.

    Read Mark’s story here.

  • Let's Talk Veterans-January 2021

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    The Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund is open for applications

    Does your organization support the well-being of Veterans and their families?

    Apply for the Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund. Funding is available to organizations from the private, public or academic sectors doing research and realizing projects and initiative in support of the well-being of Veterans and their families. Applications will be accepted until 8 February 2021.

    Not sure if you qualify? Check out our funding guidelines.

    Interested in applying? Find the application here.


    Valentines for Vets


    “Valentines for Vets” is back! Make special valentines to show your appreciation for those who have served our country in times of war, military conflict and peace. Each year, we invite schools, individuals and organizations to make valentines for Veterans in long-term care facilities. We encourage you to also share photos of your creations on social media using: #CanadaRemembers

    For more information, visit: www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/classroom/valentines-for-veterans.


    Shape the future of remembrance and recognition in Canada

    How should we commemorate and recognize those who served in Canada’s military, peacekeeping and humanitarian missions over the next decade? In February, we will invite former and current Canadian Armed Forces Members and their families to share thoughts using our new engagement platform, Let’s Talk Veterans.

    We drafted the 2020-2030 Strategic Plan for Commemoration in consultation with the VAC Commemoration Advisory Group, and now we want to hear from you. How should we adapt to Canada’s ever-changing landscape to reach our diverse and digitally-connected population?

    Through online participation, you will be invited to share your comments and ideas. We will report back to you on how we’re using your feedback.


    Gulf War Veterans, we would like to share your stories

    Did you participate in the Gulf War or know someone who did? As the 30th anniversary of the end of the Gulf War approaches, we are looking for Veterans to share their stories with Canadians.

    The Gulf War was a conflict with long-lasting consequences for those who were involved. However, the Gulf War also brought about many firsts: it marked the first conflict where Canadian women played an active combat role, the first Canadian air-to-surface attacks since the Korean War, and the first time in decades that Canadian naval and air forces supported each other in combat.

    We want to educate Canadians about this difficult but unique part of our country’s history and we need your help. We are looking for Veterans to profile and share their experiences with Canadians across the country. The profiles will be shared on the They Proudly Served section of our website and on our social media pages. We hope they will raise awareness about the Gulf War and honour those who served. Check out our website to see similar examples of profiles from our previous series, Faces of Freedom.

    If you are interested in being interviewed and having your story told, please contact us at vac.engagement.acc@canada.ca.


    Mental health supports for you

    Mental health is an important part of overall well-being that affects how we think, feel and act in response to life’s daily challenges. Our sense of purpose, belonging, personal growth and relationships all contribute to our mental well-being. Now more than ever, you should make sure you are keeping an eye on your mental health and self-care.

    Anyone can experience feelings of sadness, anger and low self-esteem. When these feelings affect your ability to function, support is available. Staying connected with friends and family, and getting outside for short walks are useful ways to improve mental health. As a current or former member of the CAF or RCMP, or a family member, you can also access targeted services and benefits to improve your well-being.

    The Operational Stress Injury Social Support (OSISS) program and The Helping our Peers by Providing Empathy (HOPE) program connects military members, Veterans and their families with others who can relate to their experiences.

    The VAC Assistance Service provides psychological support to Veterans, former RCMP members, and their families or caregivers. It is a free and confidential support line available to you 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-268-7708 to speak to a professional when you need it.

    You aren’t alone on your mental health journey. There are many supports and services available to guide you through your progress to wellness. To find out more about the supports and services available to you, visit Veterans Affairs Canada-Mental health and wellness.


Page last updated: 08 October 2021, 13:14