Veterans Affairs Ministerial Advisory Groups

Above image: Ten members of Veterans Affairs Canada Ministerial Advisory Groups. Top left to right, Debbie Adams, Derrill Henderson, Alannah Gilmore, Brian Forbes, Jenny Migneault. Bottom left to right, Dr. Lee Windsor, Layrssa Lamrock, Amanda Difalco, and Laurie Ogilvie.

A diverse and experienced group of 33 individuals from across Canada were welcomed to the Veterans Affairs Canada’s (VAC) Ministerial Advisory Groups this summer.

Established in 2016, the six groups advise the Minister of Veterans Affairs on six distinct areas that impact veterans and their families: policy, service excellence and transition, mental health, families, care and support, and commemoration.

“The important work our Ministerial Advisory Groups do makes a real difference in the lives of Veterans and their families and I look forward to working with the new and continuing members. We are incredibly grateful for the significant contributions made by current and past Advisory Group members and thank them for their service,” stated Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada.

A Diverse Group Shaping Policy

The 33 new members, according to VAC, will join the 44 members already part of the advisory groups.

Over the last six years, the groups have met more than 80 times. “Their advice has influenced initiatives, including improvements in service delivery, mental health supports, supports for families and survivors, as well as reduced complexity in accessing benefits,” stated a VAC press release.

The first meeting with the new members was held on July 21.

Each group has up to 14 members and includes a senior departmental official as co-chair and a serving member of the Canadian Armed Forces.

In addition, a representative of the Office of the Veterans Ombudsperson is also invited to attend the meetings as an observer, stated VAC.

Advisory Group on Families

The Advisory Group on Families is tasked with the job of discussing the needs of families of the CAF, Veterans, and Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Some of the topics discussed in this group include:

    • ensuring the continuity of care and support for veterans and their families,
    • honouring the service of military families,
    • identifying gaps in service,
    • furthering research,
    • and much more.

Members of this group include:

    • Lt. (ret’d) Robert Bell
    • LCol. (ret’d) Steven Deschamps
    • Sgt. (ret’d) Alannah Gilmore
    • Namita Joshi, True Patriot Love Foundation
    • Tamara Kleinschmidt, Trenton Military Family Resource Centre
    • Layrssa Lamrock
    • Superintendent (ret’d) Dave LeBlanc, RCMP Veterans Association
    • Lieutenant Commander (ret’d) Charls Gendron, Royal Canadian Legion
    • Jenny Migneault
    • Telah Morrison
    • Laurie Ogilvie, Military Family Services
    • Nora Spinks
    • Yvonne Watson

Care & Support Advisory Group

This ministerial advisory group is mandated to discuss topics related to the care and support of Canada’s veterans. Some of the topics discussed by this group include:

    • recommendations to address aging-related issues,
    • special health needs and continued care for all veterans;
    • recommendations to address gaps in programs and
    • services; recommendations to address barriers to care and support.

Members of this group include:

    • Lt. (ret’d) Sylvain Bouliane, VeteransCanada.ca
    • Mary Boutette, The Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre
    • Walter Callaghan
    • Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class (ret’d) Debbie Eisan, Aboriginal Veterans Autochtones
    • Maj. (ret’d) Jorma Hamalainen
    • Maj. (ret’d) Brunce Henwood
    • Maj. (ret’d) Rod Holowaty
    • Maj. (ret’d) Linda Lander
    • Ken MacLaren
    • Marie Andree Malette, Caregivers Brigade
    • Sgt. (ret’d) Andrea Newton
    • Alexa Pasha, Royal Canadian Legion
Beaumont-Hamel memorial The caribou statue atop the memorial commemorating the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, at the Beaumont-Hamel battlefield, France. Image courtesy of Richard Foot.

Commemoration Advisory Group

The commemoration advisory group focuses on “engage Canadians in paying tribute to all those who have served Canada since Confederation, including those who died in service, Veterans who are no longer with us and today’s Veterans.” Topics discussed include:

    • commemorative events,
    • funding for commemorative events,
    • how to engage educators and youth,
    • public information,
    • memorials and cemeteries
    • and much more.

Members of this group include:

    • Caitlin Bailey, Vimy Foundation
    • Simon Coakeley
    • Andree Gracie
    • Dr. Steve Harris, Directorate of History and Heritage, Department of National Defence
    • Derrill Henderson, National Council of Veterans Associations in Canada and Hong Kong Veterans Association Canada
    • Anne Hurtubise
    • Robert Jardine
    • Capt. (ret’d) Ray Kokkonen, Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association
    • Capt. (ret’d) Danny Martin, Royal Canadian Legion
    • John Moss
    • Maj. (ret’d) Gerry Wharton, Army, Navy, and Air Force Veterans in Canada
    • Dr. Lee Windsor, University of New Brunswick
    • CAF Rep: LCol. J. Mills, Canadian Joint Operations Command

Policy Advisory Group

This group advises the minister on matters that include:

    • providing recommendations to better address veterans’ needs,
    • recommendations to reform veterans’ legislation and regulations;
    • recommendations to address and
    • satisfy the Department’s policy priorities.

Members of this group include:

    • Cpl. (ret’d) Debbie Adams
    • Sgt. (ret’d) Catherine Bergeron
    • LCmdr. (ret’d) Lori Buchart, It’s Not Just 20K
    • Maj. (ret’d) Mark Campbell
    • Brian Forbes, National Council of Veteran Associations in Canada
    • Tim Goddard
    • Sgt. (ret’d) Kim Hendriken, RCMP Veteans Association
    • Lt. (ret’d) Carolyn Hughes, Royal Canadian Legion
    • Capt. (ret’d) Dennis LeBlanc
    • MWO (ret’d) William MacDonald
    • MCpl. (ret’d) Keith McAllister, Veterans UN-NATO Canada
    • BGen. (ret’d) Joe Sharpe
    • Cmdr. (ret’d) Andrea Siew
    • Scott White
    • CAF Representative; RAdm. Luc Cassivi

Service Excellence & Transition Advisory Group

The service excellence and transition advisory group’s main area of focus is transition and re-establishment of CAF members, and their families, in civilian life. The group advises on how to address gaps in service in this regard. They also look at how to address gaps in support and services to traditional veterans and their families.

Members of this group include:

    • Joseph Burke
    • LCol. (ret’d) Dave Byrne
    • Dr. Darryl Cathcart
    • Cpl. (ret’d) Sylvain Chartrand, Canadian Veterans Advocacy
    • Amanda DiFalco, Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness
    • Deanna Fimrite, Army, Navy & Air Force Veterans in Canada
    • Steve Graham, RCMP Veterans’ Association
    • WO (ret’d) Jessica Hewlett
    • MWO (ret’d) Michael Hogan
    • Lt. (ret’d) Carolyn Hughes, Royal Canadian Legion
    • Cpl. (ret’d) Bruce Moncur
    • Capt. (ret’d) Kimberley Newman
    • CAF representative: LCol. Sean McDowell, CAF Liaison Officer to VAC

Mental Health Advisory Group

This advisory group has the important task of examining gaps and weaknesses “in the support and services to Veterans, CAF and RCMP and their families that are related to the mental health of Veterans, CAF and RCMP members, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other operational stress injuries (OSI).”

The group advises the minister on policy priorities and program development with this goal in mind.

Members of this group include:

    • Sapper (ret’d) Aaron Bedard
    • Sgt. (ret’d) Michael Blais, Canadian Veterans Advocacy
    • Dr. Karen Cohen, Canadian Psychological Association
    • Dave Gallson, Mood Disorders Society of Canada
    • Trevor Jenvenne, Royal Canadian Legion
    • Cpl. (ret’d) Victoria Jonas
    • Capt. (ret’d) Tarik Kadri
    • Dennis MacKenzie, Brave and Broken
    • Ed Mantler, Mental Health Commission of Canada
    • WO (ret’d) Brian McKenna
    • Dr. Don Richardson, Canadian Psychiatric Association
    • Dr. Maya Roth
    • Capt. (ret’d) Robert Thibeau, Aboriginal Veterans Autochtones
    • Dr. Gail Wideman
    • CAF representative: Col. Helen Wright, Director of Mental Health Services

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Mishall Rehman

Originally from Atlanta, GA, Mishall is a freelance journalist pursuing her passion for writing in her new homeland Canada. She currently lives in Trenton, ON with her husband.

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