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 Account or 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.
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
A person working at a desk with a computer.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.
You could use this taxable benefit toward the costs of a full-length program towards a diploma, degree, certificate or training that leads to a certification or designation. You can also apply for short courses geared toward career and personal development. Also, once you’ve finished your studies, you can apply for a $1,000 completion bonus.
You can submit applications for the Education and Training Benefit and Career Transition Services online using the guided form on My VAC Account, or by mail.
Please note: You cannot receive the Education and Training Benefit while participating in VAC’s Rehabilitation and Vocational Assistance program, or if you are receiving the Canadian Forces Income Support (CFIS).
Not every war is fought on the battlefield
Canadian soldiers sit in a tank as children from local villages in West Germany look on.
On 3 December 1989, the United States and Soviet Union pledged to end the Cold War, which began shortly after the end of the Second World War.
For over four decades, communist countries in Eastern Europe, led by the Soviet Union, competed for power on the world stage with democratic countries in the West, including Canada.
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
Canadian soldiers training in Hong Kong in the days before the Japanese invasion.
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
Minister of Veterans Affairs Lawrence MacAulay presents the Minister’s Commendation to Lisa Gaylene Rose of Fortune Bridge, PEI.
Minister’s Commendation recipient Peter Joseph Morel of Ottawa.
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.
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
Conceptual image of arrow breaking through barrier wall.Veterans Affairs Canada and the Veterans Review and Appeal Board launched an accessibility consultation on November 17 with Veterans, their family members and other Canadians. We need your feedback to learn about any accessibility barriers you or others may experience.
Canada has a vision of its public service being the most accessible and inclusive in the world. This includes working with persons with disabilities to help identify, prevent and remove accessibility barriers.
You’ll find this consultation on our Let’s Talk Veterans platform until December 14. The final report will be published on the platform in 2022.
To learn more about our consultations and to stay connected on Veterans’ issues, visit Let’s Talk Veterans.
Reminder: Please take part in an online study
Pain and mental health in Canadian Veterans and their children
A group of people posing to promote online 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.
May you and yours find joy in the things that matter and keep the warmth of memories from holidays past near and dear to your heart.
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.