In this edition:
- Take care of your mental health during this season
- The Veterans Independence Program can help you get through the winter
- The Education and Training Benefit can help you reach career goals
- Commemoration: End of the Cold War
- 80th anniversary of the Defence of Hong Kong
- Do you know someone who deserves recognition?
- Veteran Success Story: A man who loves to be busy
- Veteran releases music album
- You can help improve accessibility
- Reminder: Please take part in an online study on chronic pain
- Season’s Greetings from VAC
Programs and services
Take care of your mental health during this season
The holiday season can be a busy time for people, with events to attend, gatherings to prepare, gifts to buy and often an especially busy period at work. This season can also be a time when many feel isolated and lonely. In short, it’s a time of increased stress that can take a toll on your mental health.
There are resources to help you and your loved ones take care of their mental health.
- The VAC Assistance Service is a free and confidential psychological support line available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-268-7708, or for TDD/TYY, 1-800-567-5803.
- Operational stress injury clinics provide in-person and virtual assessment, treatment and support to address mental health issues related to service. Veterans, CAF and RCMP members can access the clinics through referral. Family members may also receive or participate in some of the services provided through the clinics. You can get a referral by calling 1-866-522-2122, send a request through a secure message via My VAC Accountor ask your case manager.
- The Operational Stress Injury Social Support (OSISS) program is a national peer-support network that provides social support to CAF members, Veterans and their families who are living with the impacts of an operational stress injury.
- The Helping our Peers by Providing Empathy (HOPE) program connects CAF members, Veterans and their families with others who can relate to their experiences.
- Pastoral outreach services are available to Veterans or their immediate family for spiritual support if they are dealing with end of life issues, or experiencing loss of a loved one.
- The Veteran Family Program connects medically releasing and released Veterans and their families to community supports.
Remember during this busy season to take the time you need to look after yourself.
Winter is coming. The Veterans Independence Program can help!
Reach out to the Veterans Independence Program to help you remain independent and self-sufficient in your home and community.
You may qualify for the Veterans Independence Program if you have qualified for a disability benefit or the War Veterans Allowance, or receive the Prisoner of War Compensation.
Services covered by the Veterans Independence Program include:
- grounds maintenance like snow removal and lawn mowing
- housekeeping, such as cleaning, laundry, meal preparation and running errands
- access to nutrition, such as meal delivery services
- professional healthcare and support, including nursing services and occupational therapy
- personal care
- ambulatory healthcare, such as assessments, diagnostics, activities and transportation to these services
- transportation to social and community activities
- long term care
- home adaptations—contribution toward modifying the Veteran’s home so you can carry out everyday activities.
Our goal is to make sure your life after service is as independent and fulfilling as possible. You take the lead. We’re here to back you up whenever you need a hand.
Meet your career goals with the help of the Education and Training Benefit
Thinking about furthering your education or training after service? The Education and Training Benefit provides Veterans with financial support to achieve your academic and career goals.
Not every war is fought on the battlefield
Thousands of Canadians served during the Cold War, patrolling our waters and airspace at home, and deploying to countries in Western Europe, to guard against an attack that ultimately never came. Canadian Armed Forces members would serve in West Germany until 1993.
80th anniversary of the Defence of Hong Kong
The Defence of Hong Kong began eighty years ago this month, on the morning of 8 December 1941, when Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong during the Second World War.
Almost 2,000 Canadians fought against Japanese forces during the Second World War. The battle lasted more than two weeks before the Allied troops, outnumbered and under-equipped, were forced to surrender on Christmas Day.
Those who survived were taken prisoner, like Sergeant-Major (Ret’d) George MacDonell. They faced brutal conditions in labour camps for more than three and a half years, where over 260 Canadians would die before their liberation in September 1945.
We remember their bravery and sacrifice.
Lest we forget.
Recognize people who help Veterans
Do you know someone making a difference in Veterans’ lives? Nominate them for a Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation.
Veteran success story
A man who loves to be busy
Grant Finnigan is someone who seems to live 30 hours every day. This Veteran of 31 Combat Engineer Regiment (The Elgins) has a full-time job as a firefighter, delivers Christmas food hampers during the holiday season and stays in touch with his Army comrades. On top of that, he’s a Big Brother, mentoring a youth who needs a positive male influence.
Read more about Grant’s military career and his life after service.
Veteran releases album
Just before Remembrance Day, PEI Veteran Dennis MacKenzie released his first music album, The Guardian Angel Platoon. It tells the story of a young man who joins the Canadian Armed Forces and finds a sense of belonging, purpose and family.
MacKenzie says he hopes the stories told through the songs on the album will help raise awareness about the trauma that Veterans experience during conflict, and their difficulty coping with physical and psychological wounds after returning home.
Dennis MacKenzie served nine years in the Royal Canadian Regiment, 2nd Battalion, releasing in 2013. His service included a deployment to Afghanistan, where six of his comrades and friends died in a roadside bomb attack on Easter Sunday in 2007. The song “Easter Sunday” commemorates them.
Another song, “Why Didn’t You Say Goodbye,” is about other friends who died from suicide following their return home.
CD copies of the album come with a commemorative pin inspired by the design of a lantern used in the military. Soldier On, a Canadian Armed Forces program committed to supporting Veterans and serving members to adapt and overcome permanent physical or mental health injuries, will support and distribute the album.
Now living in Bonshaw, PEI, MacKenzie founded a support program for Veterans called Brave and Broken. “It helps Veterans through peer support and activities, from music to disc-golf.”
Music has been a major part of Dennis’ life after service. “I’ve taken part in many different programs and modalities, but music has made the most difference to me,” he says.
He hopes to have a live performance launch for the album in the spring of 2022. In the meantime, learn more about his journey and his music on his website.
We need your feedback to improve accessibility at Veterans Affairs Canada and the Veterans Review and Appeal Board
Reminder: Please take part in an online study
Pain and mental health in Canadian Veterans and their children
The Chronic Pain Centre of Excellence for Canadian Veterans invites Veterans, serving members and their children to take part in a new study on chronic pain.
Chronic pain can run in families. While many children are resilient, pain can sometimes be transferred from parent to child. This University of Calgary study will examine this process and seek ways to manage chronic pain transmission to future generations.
Who can participate: Canadian Veterans and serving members, along with their children aged 10-24 years.
How to participate: Veterans and their children will be asked to complete an online survey, which will take 30 to 45 minutes to finish.
For more information or to take part in the study, please contact the research team directly by emailing, or by calling 403-210-7846.
SOURCE: Newsletter December 2021