Mental Health Services for Veterans

Are you a veteran or do you know a veteran who needs help?
The challenges facing veterans, including Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and RCMP members, both while serving and after release have developed through the unique circumstances related to their service to Canada. Many veterans suffering from operational stress injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or anxiety also experience difficulties with their family relationships, friends, work or transitioning to civilian life.

While we cannot provide assistance in the complex area of mental health, we can provide information on services and programs to veterans, family members or friends of veterans

Crisis and Support Services:
For any emergency or crisis situation don’t delay call 911
The CAF/VAC Assistance Service is a 24-hour toll-free help line that can provide all veterans and their families with short-term confidential, professional counseling and referral services, including support for mental and emotional health concerns. You can reach a mental health professional any time, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by calling 1-800-268-7708.

Serving members and their families can contact the Family Information Line at 1-800-866-4546 or 1-613-995-5234 to speak to professionally trained counselors seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Families who call the Family Information Line will receive confidential and bilingual short-term counseling, referral to their local Military Family Resource Centres or other community services, or be provided with information about CAF programs and services

The Operational Stress Injury Social Support (OSISS) Program is a joint CAF and VAC program.  The OSISS program offers peer support to military veterans and their families who have been impacted by operational stress injuries (OSI). Peer Support Coordinators and Family Peer Support Coordinators are CAF members, veterans or family members, who know first-hand the experience and impact of OSIs. Peer coordinators reach out and provide support to those making the first steps in re-establishing a social connection, sharing experiences, listening and supporting. For more information on the OSISS program call toll-free 1-800 883-6094 or find a Peer Support Coordinator in your area.

Helping Our Peers by Providing Empathy (HOPE) provides social support assistance to families that are affected by the loss of a loved one. HOPE matches trained peer volunteers to bereaved families. HOPE assists family members who have lost a loved one either serving or released, Regular or Reserve. Trained volunteers, who have experienced similar losses, provide support to help others through their grief and recovery.

Soldier On supports serving and released CAF members, Regular and Reserve, with an illness or injury. Soldier On supports recreational or sporting activities and provides access to specialized equipment, training and events tailored for the ill and injured. Its training camps provide introductory, intermediate, and advanced activities.

The Injured Soldier Network (ISN) offers a peer support network to injured CAF members. Built on the belief that no one should be left in isolation while facing a life changing injury or illness, the ISN links injured CAF members and offers them the opportunity to receive one-on-one peer support when and where they need it. ISN Peer Support Volunteers have faced their own life changing physical injury or illness while in the CAF. Peer support volunteers are found across Canada and they are ready to provide support. All volunteers are trained and certified, and are supervised by the ISN management team.

Veterans Transition Network is a unique program to help veterans transition to civilian life. CAF members and their families who are medically releasing and faced with transitioning from military service to civilian life experience complex challenges and require multiple layers of support. To address this need, since 1998, this program has helped current and former members of the CAF and RCMP, overcome the barriers to successful transition into to civilian life. Designed specifically for barriers commonly faced when leaving the military, it helps Veterans work through mental health issues, employment limitations and operational stress injuries. This program does not require a diagnosis of a mental health disorder for attendance; and is open to all Veterans and serving members of the CAF and RCMP regardless of the participant’s military branch, trade or deployment history.

The program is delivered free of charge to all participants, thanks to funding from community organizations and the Canadian public. All travel costs associated with attending the program are reimbursed. The VTN can also submit claims on behalf of VAC clients to have their expenses covered by Veterans Affairs.

To request information on attending a program in your area, or if you know a Veteran that is struggling, you can reach the VTN at [email protected], or 1(604) 559-8155.

COPE – Couples Overcoming PTSD Everyday is a new and innovative program that uses the power of the “group” to learn how to manage PTSD in the home. Treating the individual diagnosed with PTSD in isolation misses a major component on the path to better health and happier life.

Can Praxis is a veteran based equine assistance program. While the Canadian Armed Forces uses team building, communications training and leadership development to prepare soldiers for war, “Can Praxis” uses horses to help soldiers recover from it and regain their family relationships.

Guitars for Vets program is based on a simple concept, veterans who suffer with PTSD or other service related disability will be provided with a new or gently used guitar and matched up with a guitar instructor for 10 weeks of free lessons. Their mission is to get as many Guitars in the hands of wounded veterans as possible to start the healing process.

VETS Canada is committed to helping homeless and at-risk veterans reintegrate into civilian life.  Working within the community, VETS Canada members attempt to move veterans from the streets or shelters into affordable housing (if available). They also connect veterans with needed health care, help them access benefits and services from other organizations, and support them in finding suitable employment. The volunteers stick with these veterans every step of the way and do everything possible to help them re-establish themselves.