Veterans Affairs Update May 2022

by | May 4, 2022 | News, Veterans | 0 comments

In this edition

  1. Observing Vimy Ridge Day, 9 April 2022
  2. “Thunderhead” wins LGBTQ2+ National Monument design competition
  3. 75th anniversary of the Canadian Rangers
  4. Asian Heritage Month: Captain Cletus Cheng
  5. Canadian Jewish Heritage Month: Sergeant Moe Hurwitz
  6. Mental Health Week: #GetReal about how to help
  7. Learning mental health strategies: Thriving in a digital world
  8. May is Sexual Assault Awareness Month
  9. Supporting gender equity in disability benefits
  10. National Nursing Week
  11. Are you receiving treatment benefits? We want to hear from you!
  12. Have your say in the 2022 VAC National Client Survey
  13. Your input to the Military Sexual Trauma Peer Support Program consultation
  14. Veteran story: Food for the soul

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Observing Vimy Ridge Day, 9 April 2022

It’s been 105 years since Canadians took hold of Vimy Ridge during the First World War.

With travel strictly limited during the pandemic and most commemorative ceremonies taking to virtual platforms, it was an honour to be able to bring people together to pay our respects in person.

From the National War Memorial in Ottawa to the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France, we will remember Vimy.

A bagpiper poses in front of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial on the 105th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge
A crowd gathered at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on 9 April 2022 to honour those who fought at Vimy Ridge.
Minister of Veterans Affairs, Lawrence MacAulay, places a wreath at the foot of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial to honour those who fell on 9 April 1917.

“Thunderhead” wins LGBTQ2+ National Monument design competition

A bold and dynamic design, “Thunderhead” has been chosen for the LGBTQ2+ National Monument by the LGBT Purge Fund.

Winning design of LGBTQ2+ National Monument

The monument will be dedicated to those LGBTQ2+ military members, RCMP and members of the public service who suffered, and continue to suffer, due to the LGBT Purge that occurred between the 1950s and the 1990s.

“Thunderhead” will be located on the northeast side of Wellington Street in Ottawa, next to the Ottawa River, in an area that allows for large gatherings, performances and places for quiet reflection. The monument is scheduled to be completed in 2025.

This design, by Winnipeg-based Team Wreford, is based on an imprinted image of a thunderhead cloud, signifying the strength, activism and hope of LGBTQ2+ communities. It features a pathway through a landscaped park with signs that explain the history of LGBTQ2+ people in Canada, and a healing circle ringed with stones hand-picked by Two-Spirit Elders.

The winning design was selected by a jury that evaluated five finalist designs. They considered the results of an online public survey, as well as feedback from the monument’s Indigenous Circle participants and the Monument Advisory Committee, which includes LGBT Purge survivors and other LGBTQ2+ community members.

Visit the VAC Office of Women and LGBTQ2 Veterans web pages to learn more about how we are working to advance gender equality, diversity and inclusion for women and LGBTQ2 Veterans.

75th anniversary of the Canadian Rangers

Canadian Ranger looking across a snowy landscape

In 1947, the Canadian Rangers formally became part of the Canadian Armed Forces. “The Watchers” are our eyes and ears in the north.

The Canadian Rangers work in remote, isolated and coastal regions across Canada.

Their job is not without risk … they help with search and rescue and natural disasters. They also conduct patrols and so much more.

We thank them for their service and dedication to protecting Canada over the years.

Did you know? Rangers speak 26 different languages and dialects, many of which are Indigenous.

Asian Heritage Month

Captain Cletus Cheng: a natural born leader

Captain Cletus Cheng on a radio.

The legacy of Chinese Canadian military service is one of determination, courage and honour.

Captain Cletus Cheng’s story is just that.

A natural born leader and a respected military police officer, he served in peacekeeping missions in Rwanda and Bosnia—conflicts that changed him and always stayed with him.

We remember his service, his sacrifice, and his unshakable determination.

Read his story.

Canadian Jewish Heritage Month

Sergeant Samuel Moses “Moe” Hurwitz: a Jewish Canadian hero

Sergeant Samuel “Moe” Hurwitz (left) with his brother Max in their army uniforms. (Photo credit: Debbie Hurwitz)

In 1940, Moe Hurwitz of Montreal turned down a tryout with the Boston Bruins hockey team to enlist with the Canadian Grenadier Guards. “There’s no time to play hockey when millions of my brothers are getting killed in Europe,” he reportedly told his family.

He became a sergeant and a tank commander. He fought at Normandy, where he earned two medals for his bravery. In October 1944, he was wounded and captured in the Netherlands during the Battle of the Scheldt. He later died of his wounds.

Years later, during Canadian Jewish Heritage month, we remember his selfless courage.

Get to know his full story.

Programs and services

Mental Health Week: #GetReal about how to help

May 2 to 8 marks the 71st annual CMHA Mental Health Week. As we continue to navigate challenging times, taking care of our mental health is more important than ever. One way we can support ourselves and those around us is through the power of empathy.

When a loved one is struggling, you don’t have to solve their pain. Sometimes listening and trying to understand someone’s feelings is the best way to help. Making people feel seen and heard can make a difference in someone’s life.

Being compassionate toward yourself is also important. When you are there for yourself, then you are more available for others.

Here are some tips from the CMHA on how to show empathy and listen to others:

  • Focus on the person speaking: Empathy is about relating to someone, not about your personal point of view. Avoid giving advice or expressing your opinion. You don’t need to find a solution or fix their problems in order to help.
  • Avoid distractions: Go somewhere you won’t be interrupted. Be sure to turn off your phone or silence your notifications.
  • Make it known that you are listening: Let the person know that they have your complete attention. You can use phrases such “I’m here for you,”  “I understand,” or “I hear you.”
  • Be kind to yourself: It’s okay if you don’t know what to say. Remember, you’re not there to solve their struggles. Just show that you care through your presence.

Learn more about the mental health and wellness resources available to Veterans and their families.

Learn with LifeSpeak: Thriving in a digital world

Do you have a healthy relationship with social media? LifeSpeak has resources that can help you.

The past couple of years have been stressful and overwhelming. When we’re struggling, sometimes the easiest way to cope is to escape into the digital world.

Over the past two years, the internet it has helped us stay connected with family members and friends. But digital interactions can become a crutch, especially if they entirely replace our in-person relationships. Using social media to stay in touch with a friend on the other side of the world is not the same as scrolling endlessly, wondering why your life doesn’t look like the ones you see on your screen.

From now until May 22, LifeSpeak’s focus will be on maintaining a healthy relationship with technology. Read expert blogs and watch videos on managing screen time, keeping stress in check, connecting offline, and upgrading technology habits.

LifeSpeak will also be holding four events in May. Don’t miss out!

  • 11 May 2022: English-language, full-day mental health chat marathon with wellness experts
  • 12 May 2022: French-language, full-day mental health chat marathon with wellness experts
  • 25 May 2022, 12:00 noon ET: English-language, Ask the Expert chat session on including mental health in the diversity, equity, and inclusion conversation.
  • 26 May 2022, 12:00 noon ET: French-language, Ask the Expert chat session on including mental health in the diversity, equity, and inclusion conversation.

Log in to LifeSpeak from any computer or mobile device at (use Access ID: canada).

May is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

May is recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Canada. This month is dedicated to raising awareness about the devastating impact of sexual assault on the lives of survivors and their loved ones. It’s a time to focus on making sure supports are available to survivors and preventing future sexual assaults.

Military sexual trauma affects thousands of current and former members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). If you are a Veteran who needs support due to military sexual trauma, you can access support from the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre (SMRC).

Call the Response and Support line 24/7, toll-free at 1-844-750-1648 to speak to an SMRC counsellor. These counsellors will:

  • provide supportive counselling and guidance
  • describe available options
  • facilitate referrals to CAF, provincial, territorial and community-based support resources
  • devote the necessary time and attention to every conversation.

Callers can choose to remain anonymous. Counselling is available in either English or French.

When ongoing or additional support is needed, these counsellors can also refer CAF members and Veterans to a dedicated Response and Support Program Coordinator. The Coordinator can provide:

  • supporting counselling
  • assistance in finding and accessing appropriate resources
  • accompaniment to appointments, meetings and proceedings
  • advocacy to help you meet your needs, or
  • assistance with workplace arrangements.

For more information, please visit the SMRC website.

Supporting gender equity in disability benefits

On 21 April 2022, the Office of the Veterans Ombud (OVO) released a report on the fairness of the adjudication of sexual dysfunction claims. The report includes five recommendations to ensure equity for Veterans in certain decision making processes, regardless of sex or gender.

Veterans Affairs Canada accepts all five recommendations.

Equitable access to programs and services for all Veterans is essential. VAC recognizes the importance of identifying and resolving inequities in the decision-making process. We have already completed a number of initiatives to address the Ombud’s concerns and have more underway, including initiatives to achieve equality in disability benefits processing times for women and men. This work includes:

  • a recently published new Entitlement Eligibility Guideline for Sexual Dysfunction that provides gender inclusive guidance to decision makers and a streamlined process for adjudication of applications related to sexual trauma
  • modernizing the Table of Disabilities, an important tool used by decision-makers to assess the level of an impairment and the impact on the Veteran’s/member’s quality of life, including reviewing the criteria for sexual dysfunction and updates to associated medical questionnaires
  • a new Veteran Benefit Team for women’s claims with a goal to eliminate inequalities in processing times for females and males, and
  • actively seeking ways to expand and enhance how we use information to ensure all Veterans and their families have equitable access to the programs and services they need.

The OVO plays an important role in identifying, reviewing and addressing complaints and issues related to our programs and services

National Nursing Week

Thank you to all nurses

Image showing three masked faces, announcing National Nursing Week, May 9 to 15 2022

Nurses are the backbone of our healthcare systems and play a critical role in combatting the pandemic. VAC nurses are busy adjudicating for and ensuring the well-being of Veterans, while Canadian Armed Forces nurses have provided critical support in long-term care facilities.

We thank you for everything you do to keep us safe and healthy.


Are you receiving treatment benefits? We want to hear from you!

Are you a Veteran, CAF or RCMP member, or family member who receives health care benefits using a VAC, RCMP or CAF-issued health care identification card?

If so, we’d love your feedback to improve health benefits authorization and reimbursement processes. We want to hear about your experiences.

For example:

  • What works well for you in the process?
  • What would you like to see improved?
  • Do you have feedback on how information about health care benefits and services is communicated?
  • Do you have feedback on the online tools associated with your health care identification card?

Please email your thoughts by 30 May 2022 directly to the project team. If you choose to provide feedback about this topic, please do not include any identifiable personal or third-party information.

And if you know someone who may want to participate, please tell them about this opportunity and encourage them to take part. We are committed to equity, diversity and inclusion; everyone’s feedback is welcome.

We look forward to your responses.

Have your say in the 2022 VAC National Client Survey

In the next month or so, you may receive a call from Forum Research Inc., asking for your input into benefits and services from Veterans Affairs Canada for the 2022 VAC National Client Survey.

The goal of this survey is to improve how VAC delivers program and services, and to measure the health and well-being of those we serve.

A random sample of approximately 3,250 people receiving VAC benefits and/or services have been selected to participate in the survey. This includes War Service Veterans, Canadian Armed Forces Veterans and members, still-serving and retired RCMP members and survivors.

If selected you will only be called during the following local times, and be offered the option to do the survey online or by telephone:

  • Monday to Friday: 09:00 to 21:00
  • Saturday: 10:00 to 21:00
  • Sunday and statutory holidays: 12:00 to 21:00

The survey takes about 25 minutes to complete and participation is voluntary. All responses and personal information are anonymous and confidential in accordance with the Privacy Act and will not have any impact on the benefits or services received now or in the future.

VAC will never ask for a Social Insurance Number or credit card information over the phone. We urge Veterans and all Canadians to be vigilant when asked for this type of information over the phone.

If you’ve already completed a survey, we sincerely thank you for participating. Once available, the results will be available online. You can see results of past National Client Surveys on our website.

What you told us in the Military Sexual Trauma Peer Support Program consultation

Veterans affected by military sexual trauma have specific needs as they heal and recover. That’s why the new peer support program is being created with direct input from people affected by military sexual trauma.

The program is being developed by a collaborative team of people from the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre, the CAF and Veterans Affairs. In fall 2021, this team consulted people with lived experience of military sexual trauma to better understand their needs.

Flexibility and choice in how they receive care were the two most common themes discussed by consultation participants.

During the consultation, participants also shared that the program should:

  • use the expertise of mental health professionals
  • be communicated throughout the Defence team and Veteran communities
  • carefully vet and screen all peer supporters
  • be offered in various formats, including virtual, in-person, and in formal and informal settings
  • ensure the safety of all participants and staff, and
  • be led by skilled individuals with lived experience of military sexual trauma.

There will be more opportunities to provide feedback as the Military Sexual Trauma Peer Support program continues to develop. Stay tuned to future issues of Salute! and our social media channels for updates.

If you have any insight or feedback you would like to share, please contact the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre anytime by email.

Veteran story: Jeff Becker

Seeking to feed his soul

Veteran and Team Rubicon “Greyshirt” Jeff Becker helping to clear debris after a natural disaster.

Veteran Jeff Becker thinks of humanitarian service as “soul food.” His desire to serve led him to the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) where he spent 15 years as a Combat Engineer. Since releasing from the military in 2013, he has continued to find spiritual sustenance as a “Greyshirt” with Team Rubicon, helping communities in the B.C. Interior, northern Ontario and even Florida recover from disasters.

Read Jeff’s story in Articles for Veterans and families.

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 May 2022

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