Veterans Ombudsman Weighs in on the Challenges of Family Transition from Military to Civilian Life

March 31, 2016

Ottawa (Ontario) - Veterans Ombudsman Guy Parent released today a comprehensive review of the support currently available to families in transition from military to civilian life. Support to Military Families in Transition: A Review examines the role of transitioning families, the challenges they face and the benefits and programs available to them. It also provides an update of actions, as of January 1, 2016, against recommendations made in earlier reports. The review was prepared in consultation with the Department of National Defence/Canadian Forces Ombudsman.

“Transitioning from military to civilian life is often tough on family members, particularly in cases where the member has an illness or injury,” said Mr. Parent. “A successful transition is essential for the long-term independence, financial security, health and social integration of the transitioning member and their family. One of my priorities is to focus on improving essential support to families.”

The Review identifies five areas where recommendations have not yet been addressed for families of medically-releasing Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans: a lack of direct and proactive communication to families about programs and services; a lack of outreach to determine if needs are being met and identify those in crisis; a lack of treatment benefits for family members in their own right; no wage compensation for family caregivers, and no access to the Dental Plan for some families.

“Of particular concern to me is the need for a caregiver compensation program for those family members who give up a career to stay home and care for their Veteran” said Mr. Parent. “I recommended action on this in Improving the New Veterans Charter: The Report, released in October 2013. To date , this has not been addressed and remains a problem of significant concern for many families transitioning from military to civilian life.”

Next steps for the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman include a study to determine the factors that contribute to a successful integration into civilian life, and the ongoing monitoring of recently announced initiatives to ensure they are meeting their intent to help families face transition challenges. On April 5, 2016, the Office will host a Twitter Chat to discuss the challenges families face in transition. Follow @VetsOmbudsman and #OVOChat to be part of the discussion.   

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