Senate Committee Report on the Transition of Veterans to Civilian Life
Ottawa, ON – July 4, 2014
Every year more than 5,000 Canadian Armed Forces members are released from the military. For the most part, transition is easy, but for some it is not. For example, a 2011 survey conducted jointly by the Department of National Defence and Veterans Affairs Canada found that 25 percent of the people who were released from the Canadian Armed Forces from 1998 to 2007 reported a difficult adjustment to civilian life.
Last month, the Senate Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs released its Report “The Transition to Civilian Life of Veterans”. The Report makes 14 recommendations and provides a comprehensive overview of the many government, non-government and private sector transition programs and services available to Veterans.
The focus of the Report is to improve the transition of service personnel from military to civilian life, especially for those who are ill and/or injured. To achieve this, and help assist Veterans secure meaningful civilian job opportunities, the report recommends improvements in a number of areas, including strengthening transition programs and services at the Department of National Defence and Veterans Affairs Canada, and enhancing private sector employment initiatives and opportunities.
Overall, I am pleased with this focus because successful transition to a good civilian job is key to financial independence, quality of personal and family life and improved health. To take this one step further, we need a vision, as the government had back in 1944, to put every man or woman released from the Canadian Armed Forces, who is healthy enough to work, in a position to earn a living in a civilian job.
In 1944, the Minister of Pensions and National Health published “Back to Civil Life” which said that
“Canada's rehabilitation belief is that the answer to civil reestablishment is a job, and the answer to a job is fitness and training for that job. Our ambition is that these men and women who have taken up arms in defence of their country and their ideals of freedom shall not be penalized for the time they have spent in the services and our desire is that they shall be fitted in every way possible to take their place in Canada's civil and economic life. We believe this ambition and this desire can be achieved…”
As I stated in my June 2013 Report “Improving the New Veterans Charter: The Report”, investing in the rehabilitation and re-integration of Veterans is good for Veterans and their families, good for business, and good for Canada’s economic prosperity. The recommendations in the Senate Subcommittee Report are well aligned with this and, if implemented, will strengthen the ability to successfully transition to civilian life those who served in Canada’s Armed Forces.
The Report makes the strong case that Veterans have much to offer employers due to the skills, experience, leadership and personal attributes they acquired while in service to their country. I encourage the Government of Canada to action the Report’s recommendations. Most of them require more engagement than funding. With focused effort, leadership and vision, we can create more effective opportunities for successful transition for our Veterans.
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