Report on Vancouver Outreach Activities
Ottawa – April 13, 2012
As I prepare for my upcoming outreach to Saskatchewan, I realized that I had yet to update you on my trip to Vancouver at the end of February.
The Vancouver outreach meetings started Monday, February 27, with the University of British Columbia (UBC), where I met with faculty and participants to learn more about the Veterans’ Transition Program. This unique program helps former members of the Canadian military make the transition back to civilian life. Following this, we met with the staff of the UBC Operational Stress Injury clinic, where we spent the afternoon learning about the challenges they often face when assisting Veterans. That evening, I held a town hall in Surrey, which was well-attended by Veterans, spouses, caretakers and Veterans’ service providers.
Tuesday morning was spent at the George Derby Centre, a long-term care facility that is home to over 300 Veterans. My team and I toured the facility and met privately with the members of the Residents’ Council. We then attended a briefing by the Board of Directors. I was very impressed by the beautiful artwork being created by the residents and by the passion exuded by the staff.
This was followed by a tour and lunch meeting at Vancouver’s Honour House, where the families of Canadian Forces members, as well as the first responders’ community can receive free accommodation while the service member is receiving care in the Metro Vancouver area. This is a striking example of the great things that can be accomplished through the cooperation of the private sector, Veterans’ organizations and others in the community.
On the third day, I met with students and organizers of the British Columbia Institute of Technology’s Legion Military Skills Conversion Program. This program has been strongly supported by the Royal Canadian Legion. It is designed to help accelerate and advance the civilian careers of former and current Reserve and Regular Force members of the Canadian military by giving both equivalency credits and advanced academic placement in recognition of military training and experience. Wednesday afternoon brought us to the Veterans Memorial Manor, where we met with staff from Veterans Affairs Canada and the Manor to be briefed on their outreach to homeless Veterans in the Vancouver area. I capped off the day by meeting with Vancouver Councilor Heather Deal to discuss the integration and support of Veterans in the community.
Thursday was just as busy. We met with staff and directors of the Mainland BC Military Family Resource Centre to hear about how they provide services to a military community with a wide geographic distribution, made up primarily of Reservists. Then, our team split up for the afternoon. I met with staff relations officers of RCMP ‘E’ Division, while the rest of the team met with Better Meals, which provides a ‘meals on wheels’ service to the community, including Veterans. I then held a town hall in North Vancouver that evening.
Before leaving on Friday, I met with the local staff at the Veterans Affairs Canada District Office. I find it very beneficial to meet with departmental staff towards the end of all of our outreach trips. It allows me to relay to them the feedback and ideas we’ve heard throughout the week. It is also an excellent opportunity for me to educate frontline staff about the services we provide and the way we intend to work with the Department. I mention it frequently in my town hall sessions, but I reiterate it again: we need the collaboration of the Department in order to resolve cases. Through our meetings with frontline staff, we can position ourselves to be able to respond to your concerns quickly and efficiently. That way, everyone wins.
We’ve posted the dates and locations for the upcoming town halls sessions in Saskatchewan. I hope to see you there!
Veterans’ Transition Program: http://startanevolution.ubc.ca/successstories/veterans-transition-program/
UBC OSI Clinic: http://www.bcosi.ca/
George Derby Centre: http://georgederbycentre.ca/
Honour House: http://www.honourhouse.ca/
BCIT Legion Military Skills Conversion: http://www.bcit.ca/legion/
Mainland BC MFRC: http://www.familynavigator.ca/bases/content/mainland_bc/
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