The Transition to Civilian Life of Veterans

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About the Study

About the Cover Photo

The last Canadians involved in the NATO training mission in Afghanistan (CCTM-A) board an American Chinook helicopter on March 12, 2014 as they leave the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Photo: Cplc Patrick Blanchard, Canadian Forces Combat Camera, IS2014-3013-09

What is the study about?

Every year, more than 5,000 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members are released from the military.

A 2011 joint survey by the Department of National Defence (DND) and Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) showed that 62% of the CAF veterans who released from the service between 1998 and 2007 reported an easy adjustment to civilian life. However, 25% reported a difficult adjustment to civilian life.

The purpose of the study is to look at initiatives taken by the public and private sector to promote the meaningful employment of releasing CAF members and veterans during and after their transition to civilian life.

What are the challenges of transition?

Transitioning from military to civilian life can be a particularly challenging experience for members of the armed forces looking to find a new profession and meaningful work on the civilian job market after their release. The military and civilian worlds are very different cultural environments and the transition process can be overwhelming for many service men and women. Transitioning CAF members interested in working in civilian jobs after their release from the military must not only compete with the rest of the Canadian population for job opportunities, they must also adapt to new and very different work and cultural environments.

In the civilian culture, it is generally the responsibility of the individual to manage his or her career. In the CAF, it is the military that manages one’s career. Most recruits join the CAF at a relatively young age and the military takes care of them and their families throughout their career in uniform. For many, serving in the CAF has been the only job they have ever held.

As a result, many releasing CAF members have little or no experience of civilian job application processes, how to develop résumés, how to prepare for job interviews, or how to sell the numerous skills and trades they’ve learned in the military to civilian employers. At the same time, many civilians employers lack understanding of the military and do not fully grasp the potential value that veterans can bring to their organizations.

Seeking a post-service civilian career can become a particularly daunting task for transitioning military personnel, and perhaps even more so for those who have been injured in the service of their country, who must now adapt to this new work environment with various physical and/or mental handicaps.

What key public and private sector programs and services are available to assist transitioning CAF members and veterans?

Department of National Defence:

  • Career Transition Assistance Programs (CTAP)
  • Second Career Assistance Network Program (SCAN)
  • Transition Assistance Program (TAP)
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Program for Serving Members
  • Federal Public Service Employment- Priority Appointment for Eligible Released Canadian Armed Forces Members
  • Military Civilian Training Accreditation Program
  • Canadian Forces Continuing Education Program
  • SISIP Financial Services’ Vocational Rehabilitation Program

Veterans Affairs Canada:

  • Career Transition Services Program
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Program
  • Veterans Transition Advisory Council (with True Patriot Love Foundation)
  • Hire a Veteran / Jobs-Emplois Initiatives

Non-Government Organizations:

  • Canada Company
    • Military Employment Transition Program
  • Helmets to Hardhats Canada
  • Prince’s Charities
    • Operation Entrepreneur
  • Prospect Human Services
    • Forces@WORK Program
  • Royal Canadian Legion / University of British Columbia / Veterans Transition Network
    • Veterans Transition Program
  • Royal Canadian Legion / British Columbia Institute of Technology
    • Legion Military Skills Conversion Program
  • Treble Victor Group
  • True Patriot Love Foundation
    • Veterans Transition Advisory Council (with Veterans Affairs Canada)
  • Veterans Emergency Transition Services (VETS)
  • Wounded Warriors

How are public and private sector employers providing job opportunities to transitioning CAF members and veterans?

Many employers across Canada provide employment opportunities to veterans. They represent a wide range of private sector industries, including aerospace and defence; shipbuilding; manufacturing; security services; construction; mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction; transportation and warehousing; retail and wholesale trade; accommodation and food services; finance and insurance; and information technology, to name a few. There are also job opportunities for veterans in the public sector, in particular in law enforcement, education, health care and the public service.

Organizations such as the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires, CN, CP, Home Depot Canada and Irving Shipbuilding are examples of civilian employers that offer interesting job opportunities to former members of the CAF.

The Subcommittee recognizes these companies’ support for our men and women in uniform and applauds their ongoing efforts to provide valuable employment opportunities for transitioning military personnel and veterans. They are true ambassadors and leaders in this regard, and the Subcommittee encourages other Canadian companies to follow their lead.

Senators who participated in this study

Roméo A. Dallaire
Lib. - (Gulf - Quebec)

Deputy Chair
David M. Wells
C - (Newfoundland and Labrador)

Joseph A. Day
Lib. - (Saint John-Kennebecasis - New Brunswick)

Daniel Lang
C - (Yukon)

Vernon White
C - (Ontario)

Other Senators who have participated from time to time in the study:
The Honourable Senators Andreychuk, Brown, Dawson, Di Nino, Downe, Doyle, Frum, Maltais, Manning, Mitchell, Mockler, Nolin, Stewart Olsen, Peterson, Plett, Rivard, St. Germain, Stratton, and Wallin.

Contact information

General Information:
613-990-0088 or 1-800-267-7362


Mailing Address:
Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs
The Senate of Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada, K1A 0A4

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