Stakeholder Engagement Highlights Surrey, BC

The views expressed in this summary are those of individuals and do not represent the views of the Veterans Ombudsman and his office.

On November 22, 2016, the Ombudsman held a stakeholder meeting in Surrey with representatives from various groups and organizations that support Veterans and their families.

Highlights:

Family Challenges:

  • The Military Family Resource Centre Pilot project should be extended to all Veterans and all sites, not just for medically releasing Veterans.
  • Vancouver, like Toronto, has high cost of living that fluctuates regularly. Concerns were raised that proportional reimbursement for support costs are the same across all regions.
  • Concerns were raised that eligibility and access to the Attendant Allowance be consistent for all Veterans.

Service Delivery Challenges:

  • VAC needs to recognize that services and benefits for an individual Veteran may change over a lifetime and that each case is unique.
  • A slow, complex, and cumbersome application and adjudication process leads to frustrated clients who give up and don’t request the services they need and are entitled to. When Veterans do not receive the services they need in a timely manner, they may return to the system worse off than when they were released.
  • There is no one-stop service to help Veterans navigate the system.
  • Younger Veterans’ needs are very different from those of older Veterans. They want their information faster and through e-information and e-methods.

Transition Challenges

  • There is a general lack of advice and information for members preparing for transition.
  • Important to recognize what the “new normal” will be for releasing members. Must include family members in the transition process.
  • There is no coordination with employment agencies or job placement when releasing. This is the missing link for a successful transition. The Alberta “Prospect” project was raised as an example of how it helps place transitioning Veterans in jobs as soon as possible.

Mental Health Challenges:

  • CAF and VAC should be mindful of the psychological burden when a Veteran is transitioning. Pushing Veterans before they are ready to move could backfire; they already feel socially isolated as a result of separation from their military identity.
  • VAC should recognize and provide financial compensation for service dogs for Veterans with Operational Stress Injuries (OSI).
  • Homeless veterans cannot access services or receive treatment benefits supported by VAC until they have a VAC disability entitlement. Instead they must go to emergency rooms and be referred by a doctor.

Attendees:

  • Equitas
  • RCMP
  • Veterans Transition Network
  • VETS Canada
  • Naval Veterans Association
  • Royal Canadian Legion
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