Trekking the unknowns of transitioning from military to civilian life is often a challenging time for many, but for those making the transition with a medical release, the task can seem daunting. This is why the Government of Canada and Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) teamed up to launch a four-year pilot program, through Military Family Services (MFS), entitled the Veterans Family Program.
Initiated in Oct. 2015, the program is currently piloting in seven locations for a period of four years. The locations include Esquimalt, BC; Edmonton, AB; Shilo, MB; Trenton, ON; North Bay, ON; Valcartier, QC, and Halifax, NS. The locations were chosen by VAC.
Through the chosen MFRCs the pilot will help veterans medically releasing from the military and their families to adjust to civilian life for up to a period of two years. Prior to this program, members did not have support available through MFS.
“What this does is it extends the program to those medically released members under the pilot program. So, it actually extends support to the family, and it actually provides the information and the support to the family on what it means to be medically releasing,” said Louise Hague, MFS spokesperson.
The Veterans Family Program will help both the member and their families to integrate into the community and provide them with the contacts and support needed within the community for a successful transition.
The MFRCs report their statistics on a monthly basis to government agencies and Hague says “everything is measured very closely.” In 2019, the program will be assessed with hopes to go nationwide.
Though not every MFRC across the country is running the pilot, every MFRC from coast to coast is equipped with programs to assist medically releasing members pre-release to help prepare for the transition.
The need for a program like the Veterans Family Program stemmed from a Veterans Affairs Ombudsman report identifying the crucial need for medically released member and their families to receive proper support during their transition. The government set aside $10 million in funding for this program specifically.
“It’s a really important program because families are a crucial part of the success of the transition. Even though the member is medically released, there are times when families are disconnected in the process of the medical release. So, what this program does is actually bring everything together: what it means to be medically released, what it means for the families role in the member releasing and also what it means as a family unit to transition together because even though the member is releasing it is also the family that does it together as a unit. If everyone is successful together then that transition is successful,” said Hague.
Members can access support throughout their transition through the Family Information Line, Veterans Affairs Canada Assistance Line and the Canadian Forces Member Assistance Program.
For more information visit familyforce.ca