Senate Committee on National Security and Defence - Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs
Military transition system failing veterans, Senate subcommittee finds
June 13, 2018
Ottawa – A sluggish, overly complex transition process is causing unnecessary suffering to thousands of men and women whose military careers come to end after making unfathomable sacrifices in the defence of Canada, the Senate Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs said in a report released Wednesday.
Unless the transition system is fixed, its failings threaten to compromise Canada’s national security.
The report, From Soldier to Civilian: Professionalizing the transition, calls on the federal government to implement immediate changes to a transition process that — despite years of well-publicized and well-founded criticism — remains stubbornly inefficient.
Soldiers face layers of bureaucracy when they leave the forces, which delays the provision of compensation that is rightfully theirs, does a disservice to their contributions to Canada and discourages people from enlisting.
The report makes 13 recommendations, including three that the subcommittee believes should be implemented immediately:
- No armed forces member should be released until all benefits and services from all sources are in place.
- Veterans Affairs Canada should maintain a maximum ratio of 25 veterans per case manager.
- The Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Canada should issue an identification card prior to the release of a member of the forces. The card should include recognition of military service and an identification number to allow for quick and efficient follow-up either by Veterans Affairs or by the veteran.
Canada demands much from members of its armed forces; the government has an obligation to honour their service by properly supporting their transition to civilian life.
- Between 9,000 and 10,000 military members are released from service each year.
- One third have difficulty making transition to civilian life.
- Approximately 1,600 are released for medical reasons.
“The subcommittee members believe that the men and women who made unfathomable sacrifices to defend our country deserve to see these improvements implemented without delay.”
- Senator Jean-Guy Dagenais, Chair of the subcommittee.
“The recruiting of men and women into the Canadian Armed Forces is done in a professional manner. That same standard of professionalism should be in place when they are released.”
- Senator Mobina S.B. Jaffer, Deputy Chair of the subcommittee.
“It is vital that we establish mechanisms that will provide expedient continuity of care and that full elements of support are in place by Veterans Affairs Canada prior to release to facilitate seamless transition.”
- Michael L. Blais, president of Canadian Veterans Advocacy.
“The government needs to ensure that resources and programs are in place to meet veterans’ needs. The government needs to review the accessibility of these programs and ensure that front-line staff are available and knowledgeable to assist veterans and their families.”
- Ray McInnis, service bureau director of the Royal Canadian Legion.
- Read the report, From Soldier to Civilian: Professionalizing the transition.
- Follow the committee on social media using the hashtag #VEAC.
- Sign up for the Senate’s eNewsletter.
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Senators Jean-Guy Dagenais (subcommittee chair) and Mobina S.B. Jaffer (subcommittee deputy chair) share findings of the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs’ report at a press conference in Ottawa on Wednesday, June 13, 2018.
Click to view the video of the press conference on social media.
The video is available in the language of delivery during the live stream.