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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.

  • Let's Talk Veterans-May 2021

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

    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 to keep up on issues that matter to Veterans and their families.

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

    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

    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

    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 to keep up on issues that matter to Veterans and their families.

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

    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 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

    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.

    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:

  • Let's Talk Veterans-February 2021

    Share Let's Talk Veterans-February 2021 on Facebook Share Let's Talk Veterans-February 2021 on Twitter Share Let's Talk Veterans-February 2021 on Linkedin Email Let's Talk Veterans-February 2021 link

    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 to keep up on issues that matter to Veterans and their families.

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

    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:

    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:

    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

    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:

    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:

    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

    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.

  • Let's Talk Veterans-December 2020

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    Let’s Talk Veterans

    We Asked, You Said, We Did

    We believe those we serve need to be at the heart of every decision we make. In support of this commitment to Veterans, retired RCMP members, and the families who care and support them, Veterans Affairs Canada is launching Let’s Talk Veterans (Let's Talk Veterans) on 15 December 2020. This new online stakeholder engagement platform will help us consult on topics relevant to the Veteran community and allow for broad and diverse stakeholder participation from across Canada.

    Our goal is to give those who are passionate about Veterans’ issues the power to influence our policy and improve upon the programs we offer. By increasing our capacity to seek guidance from Veterans and active members of the service community, their representatives, families, and Canadians everywhere, we can focus our research and improve how we design and deliver programs to meet the modern and changing needs of those we serve.

    We are planning two consultations in early 2021 to officially launch Let’s Talk Veterans. These consultations will explore the future of Commemoration activities as well as, focus on elements of the disability benefits application process to reduce wait times.

    After each consultation, a final report or summary will be posted to Let’s Talk Veterans, clearly showing the feedback that we have received. A section for each consultation will display three categories - “We Asked”, “You Said”, and “We Did” - which outlines the outcomes of the consultation and how we responded.

    If you want to support Veterans and their families please visit Let’s Talk Veterans and sign up to register. The registration process takes less than 60 seconds and only needs to be done one time. Once you are registered, you will be automatically notified each time we launch a new consultation and may also choose to receive future editions of this newsletter by email.

Page last updated: 01 Mar 2022, 04:04 PM