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Embarking on the Road to Recovery

Post by Guest on Fri 15 Sep 2017, 06:44

Embarking on the Road to Recovery

By Stephen Uhler, The Daily Observer
Thursday, September 14, 2017


Members of the Ruck 2 Remember organization get ready to hit the road at the Petawawa Legion Thursday morning as they embark on their fourth annual Road to Recovery march. The marchers will travel 150 km in four days to raise money for homeless veterans. In the photo are, from left, Nathan Desborough, Phil Owen, Wayne Bennett (Zone G-7 Commander, Royal Canadian Legion), Dave Gordon (chairman, Homeless Veterans Program, Veteran Services/Seniors, Royal Canadian Legion), Dave Merriott, Noel Gracie and Lino Di Julio, founder of Ruck 2 Remember.

PETAWAWA – It was a beautiful day for a long march.


Under sunny skies and summer-like temperatures, five men hit the road Thursday morning, heading out from the Petawawa Legion to begin four days of walking with 20 to 30 pound packs on their backs.

Over the course of four days, the group is walking approximately 150 km to Kanata, staying over at Legion branches in Cobden, Renfrew and Arnprior before wrapping everything up at the Kanata Legion Sept. 18.

This is the fourth Road to Recovery event, put on by the not-for-profit organization Ruck 2 Remember, to raise funds for Operation: Leave The Streets Behind, which helps homeless veterans.

Operation: Leave The Streets Behind is a registered charity that works to transition veterans off the streets into sustainable housing, working hand in hand with the Royal Canadian Legion to help get the veteran in need long term funding, work, housing and support as needed. To date, the program has assisted 525 veterans in more than 117 communities including 93 in the Ottawa Region.

The charity is managed by the Royal Canadian Legion and 100 per cent of the proceeds of this event go towards the veterans. It is also known as the Joe Sweeney Fund.

Dave Gordon, chairman of the Royal Canadian Legion's Homeless Veterans Program, Veteran Services/Seniors, said the Legion has been participating in three of the four Road to Recovery events, which has proved to be a fruitful partnership. He said the goal this year is to raise $35,000, which he is confident Ruck 2 Remember will accomplish.

“Our role is to set up contacts with various Legion branches along the route,” he said. Each branch involved provides a place for the marchers to sleep, plus hosts a fundraising event and sends the group off following a good breakfast.

The Legion's homeless veterans program started as a pilot project in Toronto back in 2012. Partnered with Veterans Affairs, Gordon said it was learned just how big a problem this is, so the homeless initiative became a nation-wide effort.

He said in Pembroke and Petawawa, the program received 20 applications for assistance – which are vetted to ensure the applicants are indeed former service men and women - of which 16 in total were met. Most of what is required is housing, help with rent and/or utilities, dental care, and helping getting a previously homeless vet set up in a new place, including food, supplies and furniture.

“We've invested $25,000 in this community (of Pembroke and Petawawa) so far,” Gordon said. To date, the Legion's homeless vet program, through support of the Legions and their Ladies Auxiliaries, have so far dispersed $1.55 million nation-wide.

He said the Legion is so pleased to be able to be a part of this effort and the Road to Recovery, which raises both funds and awareness of homeless veterans.

“This is a great program, and it keeps building and building,” Gordon said. “It is important to them and us to help out veterans.”

Lino Di Julio, the founder of Ruck 2 Remember, said it began in the summer of 2014, when volunteers took part in a ruck march over a distance of 303 km within a week. These volunteers rucked 158 bricks from Hamilton, Ontario, to the Legion Hall in Parry Sound, Ontario.

Each brick was engraved with the name of a Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan, and the event was used to create awareness and support for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and to raise funds to build a retreat in Parry Sound for PTSD. This event was titled the Road To Recovery.

“We really didn't have a plan that first year,” Di Julio said, just a strong idea of remembering soldiers and awareness of the traumas some of them were going through.

Cutting ties with a non-profit group which assisted in the first event, the Ruck 2 Remember and its Road to Recovery hooked up with the Legion with the aim of focusing on helping to support homeless veterans. It has been a partnership which has worked really well.

“When I got the initial number of veterans they helped, it was astonishing,” Di Julio said. In Hamilton alone, the Legion's programs had assisted 42 veterans.

He said in Canada, there doesn't seem to be a strong military culture, and so this issue doesn't come up a lot. On top of that, those who serve or served in the military tend to keep to themselves and their peers, and rarely if ever discuss their problems with civilians.

“They really are two distinct entities,” Di Julio said, and pointed out how events like Road to Recovery can help bridge the gap between the civilian and military worlds. He said the Royal Canadian Legion provides an atmosphere to educate both sides on how the other works.

If anyone wants to learn more about the event and how to donate to it, go to www.ruck2remember.com/road-to-recovery.html and follow the team on Facebook (ruck.to.remember) and Instagram (ruck_to_remember) where they will be live posting over course of the event from Sept. 14 to Sept. 18.

Under sunny skies and summer-like temperatures, five men hit the road Thursday morning, heading out from the Petawawa Legion to begin four days of walking with 20 to 30 pound packs on their backs.

Over the course of four days, the group is walking approximately 150 km to Kanata, staying over at Legion branches in Cobden, Renfrew and Arnprior before wrapping everything up at the Kanata Legion Sept. 18.

This is the fourth Road to Recovery event, put on by the not-for-profit organization Ruck 2 Remember, to raise funds for Operation: Leave The Streets Behind, which helps homeless veterans.

Operation: Leave The Streets Behind is a registered charity that works to transition veterans off the streets into sustainable housing, working hand in hand with the Royal Canadian Legion to help get the veteran in need long term funding, work, housing and support as needed. To date, the program has assisted 525 veterans in more than 117 communities including 93 in the Ottawa Region.

The charity is managed by the Royal Canadian Legion and 100 per cent of the proceeds of this event go towards the veterans. It is also known as the Joe Sweeney Fund.

Dave Gordon, chairman of the Royal Canadian Legion's Homeless Veterans Program, Veteran Services/Seniors, said the Legion has been participating in three of the four Road to Recovery events, which has proved to be a fruitful partnership. He said the goal this year is to raise $35,000, which he is confident Ruck 2 Remember will accomplish.

“Our role is to set up contacts with various Legion branches along the route,” he said. Each branch involved provides a place for the marchers to sleep, plus hosts a fundraising event and sends the group off following a good breakfast.

The Legion's homeless veterans program started as a pilot project in Toronto back in 2012. Partnered with Veterans Affairs, Gordon said it was learned just how big a problem this is, so the homeless initiative became a nation-wide effort.

He said in Pembroke and Petawawa, the program received 20 applications for assistance – which are vetted to ensure the applicants are indeed former service men and women - of which 16 in total were met. Most of what is required is housing, help with rent and/or utilities, dental care, and helping getting a previously homeless vet set up in a new place, including food, supplies and furniture.

“We've invested $25,000 in this community (of Pembroke and Petawawa) so far,” Gordon said. To date, the Legion's homeless vet program, through support of the Legions and their Ladies Auxiliaries, have so far dispersed $1.55 million nation-wide.

He said the Legion is so pleased to be able to be a part of this effort and the Road to Recovery, which raises both funds and awareness of homeless veterans.

“This is a great program, and it keeps building and building,” Gordon said. “It is important to them and us to help out veterans.”

Lino Di Julio, the founder of Ruck 2 Remember, said it began in the summer of 2014, when volunteers took part in a ruck march over a distance of 303 km within a week. These volunteers rucked 158 bricks from Hamilton, Ontario, to the Legion Hall in Parry Sound, Ontario.

Each brick was engraved with the name of a Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan, and the event was used to create awareness and support for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and to raise funds to build a retreat in Parry Sound for PTSD. This event was titled the Road To Recovery.

“We really didn't have a plan that first year,” Di Julio said, just a strong idea of remembering soldiers and awareness of the traumas some of them were going through.

Cutting ties with a non-profit group which assisted in the first event, the Ruck 2 Remember and its Road to Recovery hooked up with the Legion with the aim of focusing on helping to support homeless veterans. It has been a partnership which has worked really well.

“When I got the initial number of veterans they helped, it was astonishing,” Di Julio said. In Hamilton alone, the Legion's programs had assisted 42 veterans.

He said in Canada, there doesn't seem to be a strong military culture, and so this issue doesn't come up a lot. On top of that, those who serve or served in the military tend to keep to themselves and their peers, and rarely if ever discuss their problems with civilians.

“They really are two distinct entities,” Di Julio said, and pointed out how events like Road to Recovery can help bridge the gap between the civilian and military worlds. He said the Royal Canadian Legion provides an atmosphere to educate both sides on how the other works.

If anyone wants to learn more about the event and how to donate to it, go to www.ruck2remember.com/road-to-recovery.html and follow the team on Facebook (ruck.to.remember) and Instagram (ruck_to_remember) where they will be live posting over course of the event from Sept. 14 to Sept. 18.

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Ruck 2 Remember set to stop in Cobden, Renfrew, Arnprior

Post by Guest on Tue 12 Sep 2017, 15:29

Ruck 2 Remember set to stop in Cobden, Renfrew, Arnprior

Sep 11, 2017



On Sept. 14 through to Sept. 17, a mixed group of civilian and service members will be stepping off from the Petawawa Legion to undertake a 150-kilometre weighted ruck march to honour our nation's 150th birthday and those who have sacrificed for it, namely our veterans, police, and first responders.

Ruck 2 Remember, the organization putting on the event, is a not-for-profit organization that is in it’s fourth year raising funds and awareness for issues facing veterans.

Their flagship event every year is the “Road To Recovery,” and this year the event will be coming to the Ottawa Valley to once again raise awareness for veterans and funds for “Operation: Leave the Streets Behind,” a veterans charity managed by the Royal Canadian Legion.

Operation Leave the Streets behind is a registered charity that works to transition veterans off the streets into sustainable housing.

it works hand in hand with the Legion's other resources to help get the veteran in need long-term funding, work, housing and support as needed.

To date the program has assisted 525 veterans in more than 117 communities -- including 93 in the Ottawa Region.

The “Ruck 2 Remember” team will be starting at the Petawawa Legion, rallying at 8 a.m. and stepping off at 9 a.m. From there they will make their way south to Cobden’s Legion Hall. The next day the team will step off again from the hall at 10 a.m and continue south until they reach branch 148 in Renfrew.

Day 3 will have the team starting off at 9 a.m. and getting to Arnprior’s Legion hall where they will rest and refresh before the final leg on the 17th covering 43 kilometres from Arnprior to the Kanata Legion.

For those wishing to support “Operation: Leave The Streets Behind” and help keep veterans off the street, the Legions above will be hosting the team each night and will be open to the public to come out, meet the “Ruck 2 Remember” team and donate to the cause.

On the 17th the Kanata legion (70 Hines Rd.) will be hosting a BBQ to close out the event. Proceeds from that event will also go to the cause.

If you want to learn more about the event, its history, how to get involved and how to donate you can go to www.ruck2remember.com/road-to-recovery.html and follow the team on Facebook (ruck.to.remember) and Instagram (ruck_to_remember) where they will be live-posting over the four days.

https://www.insideottawavalley.com/news-story/7545031-ruck-2-remember-set-to-stop-in-cobden-renfrew-arnprior/


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150-km ruck march raising funds for veterans facing homelessness

Post by Guest on Fri 08 Sep 2017, 09:36

150-km ruck march raising funds for veterans facing homelessness


Road to Recovery will end at Kanata Legion Sept. 17


By Jessica Cunha Kanata Kourier-Standard Sept 07, 2017



Participants in the 2015 Road to Recovery ruck march trekked 165 kilometres, from Barrie, Ont. to Parry Sound, Ont. in support of the Royal Canadian Legion's Operation: Leave the Streets Behind. This year's ruck march will end in Kanata on Sept. 17. - Ruck 2 Remember/Facebook

Participants in this year’s Road to Recovery ruck march will finish their 150-kilometre trek at the Kanata Legion on Sunday, Sept. 17.

It’s the first time the event, now in its fourth year, is coming to Ottawa, and founder Lino Di Julio said it’s fitting for Canada’s sesquicentennial.

“Traditionally we cover two kilometres for every veteran lost the year before. It usually works out to 100 to 175 kilometres,” he said. “This year, we’re doing 150 kilometres for Canada’s birthday. We’ll be going from the Petawawa Legion and heading south to the Kanata Legion.”

Di Julio developed the Ruck 2 Remember organization, based in Hamilton, after discovering his epilepsy wouldn’t allow him to enlist.

“When I was growing up, my intention was always to join the military,” he said in a phone interview on Sept. 6. “Being epileptic disqualifies you, so I wasn’t able to serve.”

Instead of giving up, he said he decided to find a way to support members and veterans of the Canadian Forces, as well as other first responders, and Ruck 2 Remember was born. The not-for-profit, which organizes the Road to Recovery ruck march, creates awareness and offers support to paramedics, firefighters, law enforcement and military personnel.

Donations received during the trek go to Operation: Leave the Streets Behind, a fund that helps to permanently house veterans as well as assist them with rental, furniture and medical needs.

“We spent some time figuring out which group we wanted to support,” said Di Julio. “We were confident that 100 per cent of what we were raising was actually going to help (veterans) transition back to civilian life.”

The 2016 ruck raised $25,000, and Di Julio said he’s hoping to beat that number this year. If the team can hit $35,000, “that would be amazing,” he said. “That money will help a lot of veterans who need it.”

The event also acts as a bridge between civilians and front line responders, as the stops at various legions along the route give the groups a chance to socialize.

“I think bridging that gap is something that’s really important,” Di Julio said. “It’s a great way for (civilians) to help with a (military) community that in Canada, we don’t necessarily talk a lot about and that doesn’t historically ask for help.”

Ruck participants will begin the four-day trek at the Petawawa Legion on Sept. 14, and stop at legions in Cobden, Renfrew and Arnprior before making their way to Kanata.

The end of the ruck will kick off Legion Week at the Kanata branch, which runs Sept. 17 to 23. To celebrate, the legion is hosting a fundraising barbecue, beginning at 5 p.m.

“Everybody’s welcome,” said Moira Green, member of the Kanata Legion. “Come and say hello to the soldiers and celebrate the finish of their walk.”

The cost of food is by donation with proceeds going to veterans facing homelessness.

“I would encourage people to come out and say hey to the people that are there,” Di Julio said. “They’re not only supporting the guys financially but they’ll meet some of the veterans and hear their stories.”

The Road to Recovery ruck march will end at the Kanata Legion, located at 70 Hines Rd., on Sept. 17 around 5 p.m.

For more information or to donate online, visit: http://ruck2remember.com/road-to-recovery.html

by Jessica Cunha
Jessica Cunha is a reporter and photographer at the Kanata Kourier-Standard. She can be reached at jessica.cunha@metroland.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook
Email: jessica.cunha@metroland.com Facebook Twitter


https://www.ottawacommunitynews.com/news-story/7542085-150-km-ruck-march-raising-funds-for-veterans-facing-homelessness/

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Tackling veteran homelessness

Post by Guest on Sat 02 Sep 2017, 13:19

Tackling veteran homelessness


TOM AYERS THE CHRONICLE HERALD
Published September 1, 2017



Salvation Army, VETS combine for quick action in Halifax project


Sabina Pollayparambil, from the Salvation Army, and Jim Lowther of VETS Canada, are seen outside the Salvation Army on Gottingen Street in Halifax, Friday.

No one seems to have a solid grasp on the size of the problem facing homeless veterans of the military or RCMP in Canada, but Jim Lowther has what he believes is the start of a solution.

Veterans Emergency Transition Services Canada — VETS Canada, the national organization Lowther founded with his wife Debbie in Halifax in 2010 — is partnering with the Salvation Army on a pilot project that will get homeless veterans and their families in Halifax immediately into temporary housing.

“We get them into transitional housing right away,” Lowther said. “Sometimes we’ll get a call come in and we’ll have a volunteer there in half an hour, literally helping the veteran.”

VETS Canada is leasing two apartment units from the Salvation Army at its Centre of Hope on Gottingen Street, and has already filled one of the units. The other is expected to be occupied shortly.

Veterans can stay for up to six months while officials with VETS Canada and the Salvation Army help them look for a more permanent solution.

Federal estimates peg the number of veterans who used shelters in Canada last year at about 3,000.

However, the number of homeless vets is hard to pin down, Lowther said. His organization has already helped more than 2,000 across the country, and dealt with 193 requests for assistance in August alone.

The Salvation Army’s Centre of Hope is a men’s shelter with 46 beds and 16 apartment units offering a wide variety of services, including addictions counselling, help with emergency food and utilities, clothing and other supports.

VETS Canada follows the Housing First philosophy — adopted by the Halifax Housing and Homelessness Partnership and other aid organizations — which encourages support groups to place people in housing right away, instead of waiting until after they have received mental health or addictions treatment.

“We believe that you go in, you put a roof over their head and then you look at how you can assist them with whatever problem they have,” Lowther said.

“The services that we provide are peer support. We do a lot of the groundwork with the veterans. We’ll make sure that their needs are completely looked after.

“The Salvation Army, what they do is all of their services that they provide, the veteran gets those services too. So anywhere from addictions counselling to cooking classes.

“The wrap-around services that both of us provide are unbelievable, and it’s such a great help for veterans who are really struggling and are having a hard time. It is one of those things where if a veteran has a need, we try to fulfil it.”

VETS Canada is the designated service provider for Veterans Affairs Canada, which offers a counselling and referral service 24 hours a day at 1-800-268-7708, or for the hearing impaired, 1-800-567-5803 (TDD).

The Royal Canadian Legion also offers funding and services to homeless vets through its Leave The Streets Behind program, which operates in all three territories and six provinces, including Nova Scotia.

It can be reached toll-free at 1-877-534-4666.

Sabina Pollayparambil, a spokeswoman for the Salvation Army’s Maritime Division, said both organizations work with Veterans Affairs, the Legion and other agencies involved in aid to the homeless in Halifax.

“There are a lot of homeless veterans,” she said. “We just want to make sure they’re taken care of, so if we are able to put aside two of the rooms, then we are happy to do so.”

Lowther said if fundraising is successful, he hopes the pilot project in Halifax can eventually be rolled out nationally.

“What we’re doing is exciting and it’s something that can be duplicated across the country,” he said. “We believe that everybody has a part to play in veterans’ homelessness and if organizations did come together — like we are with the Salvation Army, with a veteran-centric focus — I believe we could end homelessness for veterans. I really do.”

http://thechronicleherald.ca/novascotia/1499795-tackling-veteran-homelessness

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A by-the-numbers look at homelessness among veterans in Canada

Post by Guest on Tue 15 Aug 2017, 05:56

A by-the-numbers look at homelessness among veterans in Canada



THE CANADIAN PRESS
Published August 14, 2017 - 4:04pm
Last Updated August 14, 2017 - 4:10pm



OTTAWA — The federal government plans to release this fall a new strategy to tackle veterans homelessness. Here are some figures from Employment and Social Development Canada and Veterans Affairs Canada to keep in mind:

2,950: Number of veterans estimated to be shelter users in 2014

5: Percentage of the homeless population who are veterans according to various point-in-time counts

750: Veterans identified as homeless in a Veterans Affairs database

$37,769: Amount provided since April 1 from a federal fund to help veterans in financial need

40: Veterans helped by that money

8: Provinces where the money has been spent, with spending topping $10,000 in Ontario and Quebec

$1 million: Amount per year for four years the Liberals are making available in a new emergency fund as of April 1, 2018

58: Percentage of veterans in a Veterans Affairs database who were over age 50 as of June 30, 2016

10: Delay in years, on average, between a military release and the onset of homelessness

The Canadian Press

http://thechronicleherald.ca/canada/1494435-a-by-the-numbers-look-at-homelessness-among-veterans-in-canada

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Veterans see need for deep, flexible spending in new homeless strategy

Post by Guest on Tue 15 Aug 2017, 05:53



Veterans see need for deep, flexible spending in new homeless strategy



Monday, August 14th, 2017

Claude Lord showns off a Canadian Veteran Forces cap recently in Montreal. Lord has been assisted by the federal government under a program aimed at getting ex-military personnel off the streets. He now gets a pension. Lord, a military vet lives in a shipping container in a poor neighbourhood of Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson


iPolitics

An emergency fund overseen by federal officials has doled out almost $38,000 in the last four months to help 40 veterans who faced financial crises, including some who may have been on the verge of becoming homeless.

As of the end of June, Veterans Affairs Canada had 750 veterans identified as homeless in its client database, compared with 650 as of last September. A federal review of shelter data estimated there were 2,950 veterans who used shelters in 2014, or 2.2. per cent of the overall shelter population.

The figures hint at how much more the government may have to spend to house homeless veterans, a cost that one former high-ranking military member believes could run into millions of dollars each year.

The Liberals plan to release their plan to tackle veterans homelessness this fall. Walter Semianiw, a former chief of military personnel, said he and others will look at how much money the government puts behind the plan, how funding rolls and how other measures like the possibility of lifelong pensions work into the strategy.

“It’s great to have a strategy, but if the strategy is not brought to life, it’s not worth anything,” said Walter Semianiw, a former chief of military personnel.

“The only way to bring it to life is money.”

Semianiw, a retired lieutenant-general who now works with VETS Canada, a homeless veterans organization, said there is also a need to be flexible with future funding so that a new, $1-million-a-year emergency fund will be more nimble than the existing one.

The present fund is made up of donations from outside groups and grants to veterans flow through organizations like VETS Canada, which has a contract with the federal government for outreach services, and the Royal Canadian Legion.

“Currently, the emergency funding is not that easy to get to. It’s not quick to get money from the department when it comes to the current organization or construct of emergency services,” said Semianiw, who was also assistant deputy minister at Veterans Affairs.

The federal government plans to release this fall a long-awaited strategy to tackle veterans’ homelessness, which, in its one of its most recent versions, has placed a heavy focus on providing veterans in crisis with help in paying the rent or mortgage, including the idea of a housing fund that could provide rent vouchers for veterans to stop them from becoming homeless.

Absent from an October draft of the document is any mention of costs, but officials drafting the plan have publicly said the goal was to have enough money available to help homeless veterans and veterans in crisis.

Semianiw said the amount of money, the rules around how it can be spent and when spending will roll out will help determine the success of the strategy.

The issue was on the government’s radar as far back as 2008, when federal officials became aware of homeless veterans in the West. Work on the strategy began in more earnest just over a year ago.

The reasons that a veteran can become homeless include loss of job, as well as mental and physical health issues. The October draft of the federal strategy adds a reference to family breakdown or violence and addiction issues that weren’t in an earlier discussion draft.

There is also an emphasis on peer-to-peer support mechanisms and outreach activities so veterans are used to help their comrades in crisis.

https://ipolitics.ca/2017/08/14/veterans-see-need-for-deep-flexible-spending-in-new-homeless-strategy/

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Liberals target autumn for release of homeless veterans strategy

Post by Guest on Fri 11 Aug 2017, 17:55

Liberals target autumn for release of homeless veterans strategy


THE CANADIAN PRESS
Published August 11, 2017 - 4:22pm
Last Updated August 11, 2017 - 4:25pm




OTTAWA — The federal government plans to release this fall a long-awaited strategy to tackle veterans' homelessness, which in its one of its most recent versions has placed a heavy focus on providing veterans in crisis with help in paying the rent or mortgage.

The revised plan obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act includes additions that outline the need for an emergency housing fund that could provide rent vouchers for veterans to prevent them from becoming homeless.

The October version of the strategy says a rental assistance program would help veterans quickly find permanent housing wherever they live, but Veterans Affairs Canada isn't currently able to provide that kind of financial help.

"Given restrictions in current statutory authorities, as eligibility for most VAC services and benefits requires the veteran to have service-related condition(s), there are limits in the supports that the department can provide," the plan says.

There is also an emphasis on peer-to-peer support mechanisms and outreach activities so veterans are used to help their comrades in crisis.

Officials wouldn't release specific pages with the objectives for the plan, citing them as ministerial recommendations too sensitive to release publicly, but the details are in a publicly available presentation that the author of the strategy delivered at a homelessness conference last November.

The presentation says that the government planned to co-ordinate various outreach efforts like local "boots on the ground" walks to find and identify homeless veterans. Internally, officials wanted to ensure Veterans Affairs staff could dole out emergency financial help "at a sufficient level to homeless veterans and veterans in crisis."

A spokeswoman for Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr said the government is working toward releasing the full strategy this fall, adding that some aspects of the plan are already being implemented.

An emergency fund to help veterans was announced in the 2017 budget at a cost of $4 million over four years to complement an existing fund established through donations to cover emergency needs like food, shelter, clothing and other items.

Changes have also been made to employment training and support services available to homeless vets. The military is also planning to change the transition process to civilian life for exiting soldiers, including ensuring pension payments and benefits are in place before they leave the military.

Many of the measures deemed to be "ready to go", such as the emergency fund, will be rolled out starting in April, with the remaining recommendations implemented over the coming years.

"All together these programs, and others being introduced by the government, are part of our strategy to reduce homelessness among veterans," said Sarah McMaster.

"The remaining recommendations from the homelessness strategy, which have been continuously updated as new departmental and government wide initiatives are launched, will be implemented over the next five years."

Jim Lowther, president and CEO of VETS Canada, which helps homeless veterans, questioned the government's urgency on the issue, given the long timelines attached to the strategy's creation and implementation. He pointed to aggressive American efforts which reduced the number of homeless U.S. veterans by half over the last five years.

In June and July, his organization helped house about 150 veterans each month.

"We still have people that will say I can't believe there are homeless veterans in Canada," Lowther said.

"They just don't know about the problem and they don't know that veterans are suffering so much and I think if they did know I think that they would want something done about it."

Getting a handle on the actual number of homeless veterans in Canada is difficult. Most measures require veterans to self-identify, or to be referred by family or friends to Veterans Affairs. Otherwise, they may largely go unnoticed among the general homeless population.

The federal government has tried in recent years to count the homeless veterans population through shelter data. A government study estimated that in 2014, there were 2,950 veterans who used shelters, about 2.2 per cent of all users.

As of the end of June, Veterans Affairs Canada had 750 veterans identified as homeless in its client database.

The reasons that a veteran can become homeless include loss of job, as well as mental and physical health issues. The October strategy adds a reference to family breakdown or violence and addiction issues that weren't in an earlier discussion draft.

"Many of these factors can also be the result of homelessness, which can make it difficult for individuals to regain self-sufficiency the longer they have been homeless," the October draft says.

http://thechronicleherald.ca/canada/1493824-liberals-target-autumn-for-release-of-homeless-veterans-strategy

Liberals target fall for release of federal homeless veterans strategy


By Jordan Press, The Canadian Press Posted: Aug 11, 2017 12:39 PM ET Last Updated: Aug 11, 2017 3:32 PM ET

Plan to roll out additional supports over 5 years leaves advocate questioning the government's urgency



A VETS Canada volunteer visits a downtown Ottawa shelter to seek out and help veterans who are homeless. The federal government plans to release a strategy to alleviate homelessness among veterans this fall.

The federal government plans to release this fall a long-awaited strategy to tackle veterans' homelessness, which in its one of its most recent versions has placed a heavy focus on providing veterans in crisis with help in paying the rent or mortgage.

The revised plan obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act includes additions that outline the need for an emergency housing fund that could provide rent vouchers for veterans to prevent them from becoming homeless.

The October version of the strategy says a rental assistance program would help veterans quickly find permanent housing wherever they live, but Veterans Affairs Canada isn't currently able to provide that kind of financial help.

"Given restrictions in current statutory authorities, as eligibility for most VAC services and benefits requires the veteran to have service-related condition(s), there are limits in the supports that the department can provide," the plan says.

There is also an emphasis on peer-to-peer support mechanisms and outreach activities so veterans are used to help their comrades in crisis.

Officials wouldn't release specific pages with the objectives for the plan, citing them as ministerial recommendations too sensitive to release publicly, but the details are in a publicly available presentation that the author of the strategy delivered at a homelessness conference last November.

Identifying homeless veterans

The presentation says that the government planned to co-ordinate various outreach efforts like local "boots on the ground" walks to find and identify homeless veterans. Internally, officials wanted to ensure Veterans Affairs staff could dole out emergency financial help "at a sufficient level to homeless veterans and veterans in crisis."

A spokeswoman for Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr said the government is working toward releasing the full strategy this fall, adding that some aspects of the plan are already being implemented.

An emergency fund to help veterans was announced in the 2017 budget at a cost of $4 million over four years to complement an existing fund established through donations to cover emergency needs like food, shelter, clothing and other items.

Changes have also been made to employment training and support services available to homeless vets. The military is also planning to change the transition process to civilian life for exiting soldiers, including ensuring pension payments and benefits are in place before they leave the military.

Emergency fund

Many of the measures deemed to be "ready to go", such as the emergency fund, will be rolled out starting in April, with the remaining recommendations implemented over the coming years.

"All together these programs, and others being introduced by the government, are part of our strategy to reduce homelessness among veterans," said Sarah McMaster.

"The remaining recommendations from the homelessness strategy, which have been continuously updated as new departmental and government wide initiatives are launched, will be implemented over the next five years."

Jim Lowther, president and CEO of VETS Canada, which helps homeless veterans, questioned the government's urgency on the issue, given the long timelines attached to the strategy's creation and implementation. He pointed to aggressive American efforts which reduced the number of homeless U.S. veterans by half over the last five years.

In June and July, his organization helped house about 150 veterans each month.

"We still have people that will say I can't believe there are homeless veterans in Canada," Lowther said.

Difficult to measure

"They just don't know about the problem and they don't know that veterans are suffering so much and I think if they did know I think that they would want something done about it."

Getting a handle on the actual number of homeless veterans in Canada is difficult. Most measures require veterans to self-identify, or to be referred by family or friends to Veterans Affairs. Otherwise, they may largely go unnoticed among the general homeless population.

The federal government has tried in recent years to count the homeless veterans population through shelter data. A government study estimated that in 2014, there were 2,950 veterans who used shelters, about 2.2 per cent of all users.

As of the end of June, Veterans Affairs Canada had 750 veterans identified as homeless in its client database.

The reasons that a veteran can become homeless include loss of job, as well as mental and physical health issues. The October strategy adds a reference to family breakdown or violence and addiction issues that weren't in an earlier discussion draft.

"Many of these factors can also be the result of homelessness, which can make it difficult for individuals to regain self-sufficiency the longer they have been homeless," the October draft says.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/homeless-veterans-federal-strategy-1.4243721


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Canadian Pacific raises more than $74,000 for homeless veterans

Post by Guest on Fri 28 Jul 2017, 16:36



Canadian Pacific raises more than $74,000 for homeless veterans


Calgary, AB – WEBWIRE – Friday, July 28, 2017

Canadian Pacific (CP) is a long-time supporter of the Canadian Armed Forces and on April 26 and 27, 2017, in support of the Canadian Legacy Project, CP hosted the first annual ’Spin for a Veteran’ event at its Ogden head office. The initiative helped raise over $74,000 for veterans living in poverty, with the funds going directly towards building affordable housing for homeless veterans.

It was a grueling 24 hour journey for the eight teams who signed up. CP employees participating ranged from those working in Engineering Services to HazMat response officers and CP Police. Other teams were made up of the Calgary Police Services, the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires, Lord Strathcona Horse, British Army Training Unit Suffield, British Army Trails End Camp and the Calgary Fire Department. In total the teams rode more than 7,200 kilometres – the equivalent of riding from Vancouver to St. John’s – all to support homeless veterans.

“It was a unique event to put together and we are thrilled by the response we received. The Calgary Fire Department won the challenge by raising the most money and recording over 1,046 kilometres, narrowly edging the British Army Training Unit Suffield team, CP Police and CP’s HazMat team,” said Rory Thompson, the CP employee who organized the event.

David Howard, President of Canadian Legacy Project, was touched and inspired by CP’s efforts.

“Our group is led by volunteers and to have CP develop such a creative and successful event was truly inspiring to all of us who aim to give back to those who gave so much for all Canadians. We are currently working on a new transitional housing partnership, which we hope to announce soon, and I am proud to say that all the funds from this event will be used to help end homelessness among our veteran population,” said Howard.

Scott MacDonald, CP’s Senior Vice-President of Operations (System), showed his support by taking part in the competition and upholding the organization’s relationship with the Canadian Armed Forces.

“CP has a long history with our Canadian military and this was a fun way for our group to give back. Riding a stationary bike for 24 hours straight is something I will not soon forget, but I also look forward to next year’s event,” said MacDonald.

The goal of the ’Spin for a Veteran’ initiative was to raise over $60,000 in support of homeless Canadian veterans. This year’s friendly competition surpassed that goal by raising more than $74,000, prompting Thompson to develop it as an annual initiative. Plans are underway for next year’s event to take place in both Calgary and Toronto sometime in June.

“Our Toronto-based employees are already really excited about getting involved and the plan is to grow the event every year by adding a different CP yard across both Canada and the U.S.,” said Thompson.

http://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=211521

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Re: Veteran Homelessness / Topics & Posted Articles

Post by Guest on Tue 20 Jun 2017, 17:58

meteck wrote:does vets canada recognize all veterans ? what about aboriginal vets on reserves? can we get them help too thru vets canada?

From what I have read, they will help all Veterans. They pick certain cities with a certain date to plan an across the Country walk to look for homeless Veterans. They also assist with other aspects in helping Veterans.

Here's their website with contact:

http://vetscanada.org/get-involved.php


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Re: Veteran Homelessness / Topics & Posted Articles

Post by meteck on Tue 20 Jun 2017, 17:47

does vets canada recognize all veterans ? what about aboriginal vets on reserves? can we get them help too thru vets canada?

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At least 17 homeless / at-risk veterans located during VETS Canada Coast to Coast Tour of Duty

Post by Guest on Wed 14 Jun 2017, 19:05

At least 17 homeless / at-risk veterans located during VETS Canada Coast to Coast Tour of Duty

By Rattan Mall June 14, 2017

VETERANS Emergency Transition Services Canada (VETS Canada) held an extremely successful Coast to Coast Tour of Duty in 17 cities on Saturday, June 10, including volunteer-led walks in St. John’s, Sydney, Charlottetown, Halifax, Dartmouth, Fredericton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Windsor, Barrie, Thunder Bay, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, Victoria and Vancouver.

The second annual 2017 Tour of Duty saw hundreds of volunteers and special guests walking together to raise awareness of veteran homelessness, with at least 17 homeless / at-risk veterans identified during the day’s events. Since the beginning of June, VETS Canada has received new referrals for over 30 homeless or at-risk veterans, in addition to providing continuous aid and support in nearly 100 ongoing cases.

Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) and Associate Minister of National Defence, attend the Calgary Tour of Duty to show his support, and to announce the extension of VAC’s contract with VETS Canada until March 2018.

Jim Lowther, VETS Canada Co-Founder / CEO and President said: “The second annual Tour of Duty was a huge success, allowing us to connect with 17 veterans in need of our emergency / crisis support. This is what the Tour of Duty is all about: encouraging awareness and creating conversations that lead to veterans in-crisis getting the help they need and deserve.”

http://www.voiceonline.com/homeless-veterans-located/



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Volunteers hit the streets to reach out to homeless veterans

Post by Guest on Sun 11 Jun 2017, 05:54

Volunteers hit the streets to reach out to homeless veterans


Vancouver, BC, Canada / News Talk 980 CKNW | Vancouver's News. Vancouver's Talk

Kyle Benning June 10, 2017


Volunteers with Veterans Emergency Transition Services hit the Streets of Vancouver and 16 other Canadian cities Saturday to try and locate homeless former service members (Kyle Benning / CKNW)

They fought once for their country, now they fight just to survive.

That’s the message a non-profit group is taking to the streets across Canada today, as they work to ensure the country’s veterans don’t find themselves homeless.

Veteran Emergency Transition Services is conducting events in 17 cities across Canada Saturday, including Vancouver, in an effort to connect former soldiers who are homeless or distressed with much-needed services.

It’s the second time the organization has held its Coast to Coast Tour of Duty, since VETS was founded in 2010.

Victoria also hosted a walk, along with Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa among others.

The walks are intended to both raise awareness about the problem and to actually locate homeless vets on the streets and in shelters who are in need of help.

VETS Volunteer Wolf Schmitz served as a peacekeeper in Cyprus, and says wishes the team didn’t need to reach out in neighbourhoods like the Downtown Eastside.

“I hope we don’t meet anybody to tell you the truth. That would be a perfect case scenario, but unfortunately, we probably will. And if we do, then we can get the wheels in motion.”

LISTEN AGAIN: Canada’s first Veterans Ombudsman talks homelessness and the armed forces in 2016

Manager John McKenzie says young vets have it the worst because they’ve always had some sort of support system.

“They’re so institutionalized that they don’t know how to take care of themselves when they get out of the army. The army does everything for you, tells you where to live, where to eat, gives you some money to spend. But you can become so institutionalized that you don’t know how to take care of yourself.”

The team says there are about 200 veterans in the Lower Mainland who are in need of some sort of housing.

Last year, a report from Human Resources and Development Canada found there were as many as 2,250 Canadian Forces veterans living on the streets and homeless shelters across the country.

http://www.cknw.com/2017/06/10/organization-offering-services-to-assist-canadian-veterans-facing-homelessness/










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VETS Canada aims to get homeless veterans off the streets

Post by Guest on Sat 10 Jun 2017, 05:40

VETS Canada aims to get homeless veterans off the streets


Organization started at the grassroots level when Jim Lowther bumped into a homeless vet while volunteering at church


Jim Lowther still remembers sitting in his basement more than six years ago, wondering what he was going to do next with his life.

After 15 years of service in the Canadian Armed Forces, which included tours in Bosnia, Lowther was medically released in 2005. His time with the military left him grappling with post traumatic stress disorder. He spent much of his time not doing much at all.

His wife Debbie and those in his circle of support told him it was time do something. Several weeks in a row, Lowther drove by St. Andrew’s Church and contemplated going in to help out with Sunday supper. Eventually, on his seventh drive past the church, he went inside and began helping those in need.

It was there that Lowther bumped into another fellow veteran.

“He said he was homeless. And I was floored. It didn’t resonate with me. What do you mean? What are you talking about? How did this happen? What the hell?”

The man pointed to three other veterans at the supper, all of them struggling and without a place to live.

“I went home and told my wife, and neither of us could believe it. We looked it up, and saw search results from the U.S., but little information about Canada,” he said.

But as they soon found out, there were many homeless veterans in Canada. Lowther and Debbie conducted a boots-on-the-ground walk in Halifax and found several more veterans living on the streets. Then they heard from someone in Lethbridge, Alta., who was in need of assistance.

What began as a walk to seek out and help homeless veterans has now evolved into a national organization, with an army of nearly 500 volunteers that helps hundreds of homeless and in-crisis veterans each year.

Veterans Emergency Transition Services Canada (VETS Canada) has helped more than 1,400 veterans since it first began in 2010. Today, it serves 16 locations across the country.

In 2014, the VETS Canada was awarded a contract by Veterans Affairs Canada. The government funds three full-time staff members and an office in Halifax. Lowther says the government assistance means 100 per cent of all donations can go towards helping homeless veterans and those in crisis.

Tim Kerr, the director of Veterans Priority Program Secretariat with Veteran Affairs, said VETS Canada has helped identify homeless veterans that the department would likely not have been aware of had it not been for the organization.

“They have certainly expanded our knowledge of how many homeless veterans are out there,” Kerr said. “We still, as a department, have a long way to go in terms of knowing the entire situation, but VETS Canada has provided us with an opportunity to reach out and help more homeless veterans than we would have without them.”

Richard MacCallum, a veteran who spent 16 years as a reservist and member of the Armed Forces, was one of those people. He lost his business in the economic downturn, which cost him just about everything he had.

A year ago, he was working in Ottawa and staying at the Salvation Army shelter when he was approached by a VETS Canada volunteer who urged MacCallum to get in touch with the organization.

Not long after he emailed VETS Canada, MacCallum was taken out of the shelter and put in an extended-stay hotel, complete with a fridge full of groceries. He stayed there for three months while the organization helped him secure an apartment, and deal with medical issues. VETS Canada also provided proper winter gear, so he could stay warm while working construction.

“I can’t say enough about these people,” MacCallum said through tears. “The military looks out for their own. It’s a shame that it has to come this. I honestly don’t know where I would have ended up if it wasn’t for them.”

Now, MacCallum spends his limited free time volunteering for the group that helped him off his feet.

“No one deserves to live on the street,” MacCallum said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re military or not. If we can help, that’ll make a difference.”

Before receiving help from the government and the hundreds of eager volunteers, the Lowthers sunk nearly all of their savings into the cause.

“We had so many people that were suffering, so many families that were in need, we had to do it,” Lowther said. “I’ve spent money through my career on some crazy things, but this wasn’t it. This was something that needed to be done.”

The organization says most of the veterans they assist are men who live in cities. However, the number of female veterans in need of help has increased in the last year, from six per cent of all total cases in 2015 to 16 per cent this year.

There are also more older veterans looking for assistance. Last year, 10 per cent of veterans helped were 60 years old or more. This year, that figure jumped to 25 per cent. Many veterans are struggling because of extensive delays waiting to receive a pension from the backlogged Department of National Defence.

Hilary Turner, a former reservist and volunteer who runs the Toronto chapter of VETS Canada, has seen the organization help not only homeless veterans, but those in moments of need.

In one case, a female armed forces veteran was moving to northern Ontario for her studies when her car broke down. VETS Canada offered to subsidize her travel costs in order to get her.

The organization hasn’t just changed the lives of many veterans across the country. Lowther said it’s helped him find his own purpose.

“I have PTSD, a traumatic brain injury, herniated discs, I’m just as beat up as everybody. Until this, I had no idea what I was going to do with my life,” he said. “I was lost in limbo. And then this became my mission. It was like okay, here is your something. Go do that.”

Walter Semaniw, a retired lieutenant-general who helped get VETS Canada running in Ottawa, hopes Canadians become more aware of the help that some of their veterans need.

“Veterans have been there for the nation when the nation needed them,” Semaniw said. “Every Canadian goes through a tough time in their lives, and so do veterans. They were there for our nation, and our nation should be there for them.”

https://www.mississauga.com/news-story/7042444-vets-canada-aims-to-get-homeless-veterans-off-the-streets/



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Tour of Duty walk in Victoria to raise awareness of veteran homelessness

Post by Guest on Fri 09 Jun 2017, 14:34


Esquimalt resident Gary Davis stands outside Our Place on Pandora Avenue. On Saturday, June 10, Davis will lead a handful of people through downtown Victoria, beginning at Our Place, as part of Veterans Emergency Transition Services Canada’s national walk to help locate homeless and in-crisis veterans. Kendra Wong/Victoria News

Tour of Duty walk in Victoria to raise awareness of veteran homelessness


Local chapter has helped roughly a dozen veterans in the city in recent months


By KENDRA WONG Fri Jun 9th, 2017

When Gary Davis sees homeless people sleeping in doorways and on streets in Victoria and Esquimalt, he sees them from a different perspective.

Davis, who served in the navy for 30 years, always wonders who that person is, how they got there, what they were before and if they were once a part of the military.

“Whenever I walk down the streets, anytime I see a less fortunate person in a doorway or with drug problems, I always wonder if he’s a veteran,” said the 61-year-old Esquimalt resident, who is raising awareness of veteran homelessness this weekend.

Davis is the field operations manager on Vancouver Island for the Veterans Emergency Transition Services (VETS) Canada, a national charity and service provider of Veterans Affairs Canada that assists homeless and in-crisis veterans and connects them with services.

Across the country there are an estimated 2,200 to 2,300 homeless or in-crisis veterans. It’s a problem affecting Victoria as well.

Locally, Davis is surprised at how many veterans fall through the cracks. Over the past six months, there have been roughly a dozen veterans in need of services who Davis and his volunteers have found through referrals in Victoria, along with several in Nanaimo and some in Courtenay.

“There are people who have suffered some debilitating traumas in the military and I think that those folks need help. I think there’s a certain trust between military people that doesn’t exist between civilians and military people,” Davis said.

“To help a guy get back on his feet is a wonderful thing to do. I wish every case was a perfect outcome. They aren’t all successful, but when we do help a guy out and he rises to the challenge of life, it’s a wonderful thing to see.”

In many cases Davis has dealt with veterans who have had difficulty transitioning to civilian life and often drop off the radar. They also range in age, from younger veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder from things they’ve witnessed overseas, to older veterans who have had difficulty making ends meet.

To help raise awareness of the veteran homelessness population and to locate veterans in need, VETS Canada is hosting its Coast to Coast Tour of Duty in communities across the country, including Victoria, this weekend. While this is the walk’s second year, it is the first time it will be taking place in Victoria, with a handful of volunteers walking from Our Place Society to the Johnson Street Bridge.

The Coast to Coast Tour of Duty takes place Saturday, June 10 beginning at 1 p.m. For more information visit vetscanada.org.

https://www.vicnews.com/community/tour-of-duty-walk-in-victoria-to-raise-awareness-of-veteran-homelessness/





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Awareness for homeless veterans comes to Windsor

Post by Guest on Thu 08 Jun 2017, 16:31

Awareness for homeless veterans comes to Windsor



In this November 11, 2011 file photo, Canadian soldiers take part in the last Remembrance Day ceremony at Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan. Without the mission in Afghanistan, what is in store for Canada's Department of National Defence in 2012?

CTV Windsor
Published Thursday, June 8, 2017 4:08PM EDT


Windsor will be part of a national tour of duty - meant to raise awareness about veteran homelessness.

The group - Veterans Emergency Transition Services - or Vets Canada – is inviting the public to walk to locate veterans on the street or in shelters in need of help.

Walks will be led by teams of Vets Canada volunteers in 17 cities.

Vets Canada is a national charity - and has assisted more than 1,600 homeless and in-crisis veterans since 2010.

Click here for more information: http://vetscanada.org/get-involved.php

http://windsor.ctvnews.ca/awareness-for-homeless-veterans-comes-to-windsor-1.3449899








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