Veterans Affairs Update April 2022

by | Apr 20, 2022 | News, Veterans | 0 comments

In this edition


  1. Mental Health Benefits now available
  2. Protecting your mental health in times of stress
  3. Five programs receive support from the Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund
  4. Learn to manage everyday stress
  5. Best Advice Guide: Caring for Veterans
  6. Are you ready for tax time?
  7. Free help with your income tax return
  8. Commemoration: 105th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge
  9. 25th anniversary of CAF stepping up during Red River floods
  10. Team Canada for Invictus announced
  11. Have your say on long-term care
  12. Veteran story: From Navy to community assistance

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Mental health

Mental Health Benefits now available

Mental health is vital to overall well-being. That’s why the new mental health benefits provide Veterans with coverage for the mental health support and services they need, as fast as possible.

Starting 1 April 2022, Canadian Armed Forces Veterans who apply for a disability benefit for certain mental health conditions, as well as those who have already applied and are awaiting a decision, will receive immediate mental health coverage. That includes Veterans living outside of Canada and Reservists on Class A or Class B (less than 180 days).

Mental Health Benefits coverage applies to treatment for service-related mental health conditions such as anxiety, depressive, or trauma-and-stressor-related disorders. It also funds related prescription drugs and mental health services like examinations and treatment by psychologists, counsellors, social workers or other mental health professionals.

CAF Veterans who have applied for an eligible mental health condition, and are awaiting a decision, have been sent information about this benefit.

Keep up to date on news about VAC services, including mental health benefits, on My VAC Account, our Facebook and Twitter pages, or by subscribing to this newsletter. You can also read the Mental Health Benefits FAQs.


Protecting your mental health in times of stress

Blurred picture showing two people talking

News coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine distresses us all, and may be triggering for Veterans.

“Those who have served in similar situations might be watching events unfold, including images of conflict, and we know that this can not only be distressing but also re-traumatizing,” said WO (Ret’d) Brian McKenna of the Centre of Excellence on PTSD, now known as the Atlas Institute for Veterans and Families.

He added it is important for anyone experiencing distress to access support. It’s equally important for friends and families to know that people may need extra support in these difficult times.

There are resources to help you and your loved ones take care of their mental health.

Remember to take the time you need to look after yourself.


Programs and services

Canadian organizations help Veterans with support of the Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund

In 2021–22, 36 projects will receive $11.3 million from the Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund (VFWF). This year’s recipients focus on issues affecting Veterans and their families during post-COVID-19 recovery, such as homelessness, retraining, employment and health challenges. The Fund also supports equity-seeking groups such as women and LGBTQ2 Veterans.

In March, funding was announced for the following five programs:

  • Free Spirit Therapeutic Riding Association received $90,000 to deliver an 18-month program for 64 women Veterans to build resiliency through equine-assisted psychotherapy.
  • Veteran Farm Project Society supports women Veterans’ well-being and transition to life after service with opportunities to participate in activities like growing produce, tending to a memorial flower garden, creating art and practicing archery. VAC is providing $75,000 to support this program.
  • Nova Seven Arts Council, a community art space, will receive $10,000 to support its free, accessible program introducing expressive arts therapy to medically releasing military personnel, their families and Veterans.
  • Respect Forum will receive $500,000 for their project, a national networking initiative bringing municipal governments together with business and community leaders, including Indigenous and women business owners and leaders. Together, these groups strive to improve mental health and homelessness services for Canada’s Veterans, emergency responders and their families.
  • Centre CASA (in French only) will receive $370,000 to expand addiction treatment services for Veterans and military personnel and their families.

Since 2018, the Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund has provided financial support to private, public and academic organizations to improve the lives of Veterans and their families.

There will be more announcements to come in the months ahead. For more information, please see the full list of recipients.


Build your skills to manage everyday stress

LifeSpeak has a series of guided meditations that can help you build your own skill set to manage everyday stresses.

Many things cause anxiety and stress in our lives: personal or work-related pressures, times of uncertainty or a lack of control. While certain amounts of stress and anxiety are normal, too much can take a toll on our physical and mental health. One positive way we can manage stress and anxiety is through meditation.

Meditation can help us focus on the present moment rather than thinking about the past or the future. It can help us become more self-aware, and better prepared to combat life stresses.

Lifespeak’s video clips include tips on breathing, stretching, and other techniques targeting how to calm your mind and body in distressing situations. These guided meditations range from 90 seconds to 10 minutes, at most; perfect for your busy schedule! Visit LifeSpeak today, using the access code “canada”.

Check out one of these meditations:

LifeSpeak provides expert-led and bilingual resources on physical and mental health and well-being, including wellness videos, blogs, awareness campaigns and monthly chat sessions.

You can find more information about LifeSpeak in the Mental health and wellness section of VAC’s website.


New advice guide for physicians caring for Veterans

Best Advice Guide: Caring for Veterans highlights special considerations for the health needs of Veterans and shares best practices, practical tips, and resources. It was published by the College of Family Physicians of Canada in collaboration with Veterans Affairs Canada as a resource for family doctors to help treat and care for Veterans.

Family doctors play an essential role in Veterans’ health and well-being. A doctor who understands the military experience and the challenges of life after service can make a real difference in the life of a Veteran and their family.

The guide is available on the College of Family Physicians of Canada’s website.

If you or someone you know is a health professional who treats Veterans, please share this resource with your professional network. Veterans are also encouraged to share the guide with their primary care provider.

If you need support for your health and well-being, learn more about our physical and mental health services.


It’s tax time!

Did you know certain benefits paid to Veterans—such as disability benefits based on pain and suffering—are tax-free? Others, like the Income Replacement Benefit and the Education Training Benefit, are taxable.

You may have received the following tax forms (depending on your individual situation) for your 2021 return:

  • T4A—how much taxable income was earned and how much tax was submitted (under one of VAC’s taxable benefit programs)
  • RL-1—tax information if you pay taxes in Quebec or receive benefits under the Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP) in Quebec
  • RL-2—also for reporting Quebec income and tax withheld from Veterans benefits
  • NR4—for those who reside abroad.

Income on these documents may appear larger than the amount you actually received. That’s because they reflect total gross amounts of all taxable programs.

VAC clients were sent their tax forms 25 February 2022. These forms are also available on My VAC Account. If you have not received your tax forms, please call 1-866-522-2122.

Helpful resources for preparing your tax return:

Make sure you are getting all the tax benefits and deductions you are entitled to!


Free help with your income tax return

Through the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP), community organizations host free tax clinics where volunteers file tax returns for eligible people.

Individuals need to do their taxes every year to qualify for many federal, provincial, and municipal programs and services. This is a difficult and sometimes overwhelming task for many people.

The program’s service is offered free of charge to everyone who meets the eligibility criteria, and includes doing taxes for the current and previous years.

For the 2022 tax season, some community organizations are hosting free virtual tax clinics. Volunteers may be able to complete and file your taxes for free, by videoconference, by phone or through a modified drop-off clinic. To find a clinic, please check out the Canada Revenue Agency’s directory; if you live in Quebec, contact Revenu Québec.

Eligibility criteria

In order to be eligible for the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program, individuals must have a modest income and a simple tax situation.

Modest Income

The following table provides a guideline to determine if an individual is eligible for the program. In general, a modest income means the total family income is less than the amount shown in the chart below, based on the size of the family.

Suggested income levels
Family size Total family income
1 person $35,000
2 people $45,000
3 people $47,500
4 people $50,000
5 people $52,500
More than 5 people $52,000, plus $2,500 for each additional person

Simple tax situation

In general, a tax situation is simple if an individual has no income or if their income comes from these sources:

  • employment
  • pension
  • benefits, such as Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security, disability insurance, employment insurance, and social assistance
  • Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs)
  • support payments
  • scholarships, fellowships, bursaries, or grants
  • interest under $1,000.

More information on clinics can be found on the Canada Revenue Agency’s page.


Commemoration: 105th anniversary

The Battle of Vimy Ridge, April 9–12

The Canadian National Vimy Memorial, Givenchy-en-Gohelle, Pas de Calais, France.

Every year on April 9, we remember the brave Canadians who fought in the Battle of Vimy Ridge. This important First World War victory has come to symbolize so much for our country. Four Canadian divisions fought together for the first time on the battlefield and captured the world’s attention with their courageous actions.

This historical battle helped shape today’s Canadian Armed Forces. Their sacrifices and achievements awakened our national pride.

We honour their service.

#RememberVimy by sharing your stories and photos on social media.

Learn more about the Battle of Vimy Ridge.


25 years ago: CAF steps up during historic Red River floods

Member of the Canadian Armed Forces and volunteers stacking sandbags.

They called it the flood of the century.

When the Red River Flood of 1997 ravaged southeastern Manitoba, the Canadian Armed Forces came to the rescue.

Members of the army, navy and air force from across the country poured into the province to fight the rising waters. At its peak, more than 8,000 of our service members were providing assistance and relief to the region. They helped build levees to protect against the rising water and rescued Canadians stranded by the flooding. The Red River floods would see the largest deployment of Canadian troops since the Korean War.

25 years later, we remember their heroic efforts here at home.


Team Canada for Invictus announced

Canada's wheelchair basketball team scoring.

After a long awaited hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, close to 30 Veterans and active service members will finally be able to put their skills to the test in the Invictus Games The Hague 2020 in the Netherlands from April 16-22.

Invictus, meaning unconquered, embodies the fighting spirit of wounded, injured and sick service personnel. It personifies our Team Canada. The games provide an inspirational experience to the ill and injured participants, helping fuel their recoveries.

These athletes have served and sacrificed so much for our country. It’s our turn to return the favour and cheer them on as they compete in The Hague.


Engagement

Have your say on long-term care

Here is an opportunity for you to contribute your experience, knowledge and ideas on standards for long-term care in Canada.

The global pandemic has shone a light on the unique challenges in Canada’s long-term care sector. To address some of those challenges, the Standards Council of Canada, Health Standards Organization, and Canadian Standards Association are developing new National Standards of Canada for long-term care.

Start with viewing this information session video to find out more. The draft standard for Operation and Infection Prevention and Control of Long-term Care Homes will be open for feedback until 11 April 2022. You will have to register in order to review and comment on the standards. The website includes links to videos to help guide you.


Veteran story: Richard MacCallum

From Navy to community assistance

Inspired by his grandfather, who served in the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War, Richard MacCallum enlisted in 1971. His service took him around the world, from Scotland to Australia, and all over the Pacific. “I’ve been to Hawaii six times,” he recalls, as well as to New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji, the Philippines and many other countries.

“The camaraderie was a vital part of shipboard life,” Richard remembers. “Everyone shared in the work, everyone had their own important role to play.”

Today, Richard supports the Innercity Veterans Outreach and Support (IVOS) program in Ottawa, which works to place Veterans in housing where they need it. “It’s my mission to do what I can to help Veterans,” he says. “I love the program.”

Read more of Richard’s story in our article hub.


Do you know other Veterans, family members or others who would benefit from the information in this newsletter? Feel free to share it with them.

SOURCE: Newsletter April 2022

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