Veterans and their families can often feel lost when the member is medically released from the Canadian Armed Forces.
Now, Veterans Affairs Canada along with the 32 Military Family Resource Centers across Canada have launched the Veteran Family Program to offer resources and support to those in transition from military to civilian life.
On average, 1200 members along with their spouses and children are medically released from the Canadian Armed Forces each year.
“When you retire medically, you don’t always have a plan,” says Colonel Louis Lapointe, 4 CDSG Commander. “If you decide to retire and you come out of your service after serving 35 years, you’re going to get a pension, your plan might be to go fishing, and you’re ready for that.”
Lapointe says when you take the uniform and the I.D. card, the member loses the social connection and what connects that member to the community where they served.
Each MFRC will have a Veteran Family Program Coordinator who is there to help members and their families transition and lessen the burden of any issues or challenges they may have.
Claudia Beswick, Executive Director of the Petawawa MFRC, says sometimes families feel a loss when the member releases from the Military because they were used to having the programs at the MFRC’s and feel they can no longer participate.
“What this program allows is the full suite of MFRC programs to still be available to the member and the family, and sometimes that’s a sense of relief because it’s family for them, it’s something they are comfortable and familiar with so we are really looking forward to expanding what we already have to the veteran community, and to the families,” says Beswick.
Workshops will be available to the members and their families on the topics of mental health, financial support, interpersonal relationships and much more.
Aaron Sabourin, Military Family Services Veteran Family Program Manager, says on top of providing individualised programs to transitioning members, they act as the champion of the family.
“They are there to really help give that individualized, one-on-one support, to sit down, understand each families unique needs and help guide and navigate them through the program.”
If members or veterans are not comfortable going into their local MFRC, there are many ways to get connected and begin their road to transition. Members and families can call the 24/7 Family Information Line, or visit CAFconnection.ca to access VFP.
“We are going to take care of you as if you were still a member,” says Col. Lapointe.
For more information on the Veteran Family Program contact your local MFRC or visit cafconnection.ca