Programs & Services

Christmas Miracle for Homeless Vet and Family

An Ontario veteran and his family found themselves in the middle of a Christmas miracle thanks to the efforts of Veterans Emergency Transition Services Canada.

The family of five had been displaced from their home. Refusing to be separated they were living in a storage locker with their few remaining belongings.

“VETS Canada got a call out of the blue from someone telling us that there was a vet and his family actually living in a storage locker. We had a good idea where they were and so we had one of our Boots on the Ground, Rapid Response Teams go out looking for them. They eventually did find them,” said Jim Lowther, president and founder, Veterans Emergency Transition Services Canada.

The veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces, who remains anonymous, completed NATO missions in Bosnia and a United Nations Mission to the Republic of Congo. According to Lowther the vet suffers from post traumatic stress disorder that led to him releasing from the military.

“Things just spiralled out of control from there. When we found the family it wasn’t a heated storage locker, it was an old sea container. They told the team they didn’t care where they lived as long as they could keep the family together,” said Lowther. “He couldn’t keep a job and his wife did not make enough money to keep them out of the red, so they lost everything but the stuff left in the container.”

Miracles began happening when the family was discovered by VETS Canada. The organization was able to take them to the immediate warmth and safety of a hotel and provide them with food. An apartment was secured for the family through the payment of the first and last month’s rent. Beds were purchased for the children as well as some new furniture.

“This is the first year in a long time they won’t be overwhelmed with constant worry. They have a new home and we were able to take care of  Christmas for them as well. Of course we will be helping this veteran get the help he needs to look after his family in the future,” said Lowther. “This is truly what Christmas is all about to me.”

The VETS Canada protocol to support a vet in need is simple and effective, with a built in flexibility allowing for a unique tailored response to each vet.

When a call or email is received that a veteran is in need of immediate help the it is assigned to the appropriate provincial team leader (PTL). The PTL then calls up their Boots on the Ground, Rapid Response Team.

The team tracks down the vet performs an needs assessment, considering health and safety. Lowther explains they may put the vet and their family in a hotel providing them basics like food and other necessities to last a week. Then the team begins the work of connecting the vet with supporting agencies.

“No one who serves their country should have to spend Christmas, or any time living in a shipping container. This is simply unacceptable. Think of those military children. I hope this is their best Christmas and their new year is just that, a fresh new start, knowing that somebody cares about this military family,” said Lowther.

VETS Canada was formed to reach out and help Canadian veterans who had not made a successful transition from their military career to healthy civilian lives.

The mission of VETS Canada is to identify Canadian veterans who are in difficult circumstances while awaiting support from Veterans Affairs Canada, monitor legislative changes relevant to the situation of veterans in order to provide them with the most up-to-date information, and assemble a complete list of all government agencies and non-profit resources that could provide assistance to veterans related to their housing, health and legal needs.

For more information, or to make a donation of time or dollars please visit Veteran’s Emergency Transition Services Canada website.

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Vicki L Morrison

Thanks to her husband's military career Vicki reinvented herself as a writer so she could work from home, while taking care of their three kids. A former MFRC executive director Vicki is a passionate advocate for military families who loves telling their stories.

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