The National Association of Federal Retirees is currently on a nationwide tour meeting with Veterans and their families in a town-hall style to gather their feedback on the transition process to civilian life and experiences afterward.
The Federal Retirees, an independent non-profit group with a membership 180,000 Veterans, public servants, and RCMP members, was inspired by the possibility of a Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Transition Group, as outlined by the new defence policy, to take on this cross-country tour.
“We said okay how can we make a meaningful contribution for the setup and creation of this transition group with DND and help Veterans and their families,” said Andrew McGillivary, director of communications and marketing with the Federal Retirees.
So far, the Federal Retirees have visited eleven bases including CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Gagetown, CFB Trenton, CFB Valcartier, CFB Borden, CFB Winnipeg, CFB Shiloh, CFB Edmonton, CFB Esquimalt and CFB Comox.
They’ve gathered the information from these town halls from questions based on four distinct topics: transition, family experience, Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) programs and VAC services.
Thus far, the feedback the Federal Retirees members have gathered has been on varying topics from accessing disability services to the pension process.
“Some have encountered very adversarial process when they had expected to be respected for their service to their country and that VAC would give them the benefit of the doubt. But that hasn’t been their case,” noted McGillivary.
The non-profit association has also heard from many families who feel ignored and unsupported during the transition process.
“Often, for example, if a veteran is suffering from PTSD he might be separated from the family and there is no support for the family respite care, for say, the wife, if that’s the case, to help look after the children and a lot of burdens fall on the family,” added McGillivary.
After completing the tour, the Federal Retirees will compile a report, based on the feedback, and present in a conference to the ministers of the Department of National Defence, VAC and Public Safety.
“We don’t have an agenda. We don’t have any predetermined outcomes here. We’re just trying to make improvements in the lives of veterans and families,” said McGillivary.
The last town hall will be held in Ottawa on Nov. 2 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. To register click here.
If you are a Veteran or family members and missed out on the town halls, you can still voice your concerns until Nov. 17 through an online survey through the Federal Retirees website. This feedback will also be included in the final report.