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Veteran Homelessness / Topics & Posted Articles

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New video for first responders to help identify and address Veteran Homelessness

Post by Guest on Wed 02 Nov 2016, 11:57

New video for first responders to help identify and address Veteran Homelessness

Back in Step trains first responders to identify homeless Veterans and connect them with Veterans Affairs Canada

OTTAWA, Nov. 2, 2016 /CNW/ - Veterans Affairs Canada is introducing a new video for first responders to help them identify and support Veterans who are homeless or in crisis situations. The video, entitled Back in Step, highlights the unique experiences and circumstances of homeless Veterans. The video provides valuable insight to police and other first responders on identifying homeless Veterans and former RCMP members, and connecting them with the services and supports they need.

Identifying and supporting Veterans who are homeless or in crisis, and ensuring they receive needed services and supports is a priority for Veterans Affairs Canada. The Department recognizes that policing services across the country are often a key component of outreach and emergency response to the homeless population. As officers are on the streets 24/7, and often build rapport with people they see on a regular basis, they have the opportunity to ask the questions needed to identify homeless individuals who may have served with the Canadian Armed Forces or the RCMP, and direct them to a local Veterans Affairs Canada's office for support.

Back in Step is part of Veterans Affairs Canada larger, ongoing strategy to help address homelessness in the Veterans community.

The video may be accessed by police and other first responders at no cost on the Canadian Police Knowledge Network:

It will also be available to the public on the Veterans Affairs Canada:

Any individual or organization who comes in contact with homeless Veterans or former RCMP members is encouraged to refer them to Veterans Affairs Canada so the Department can help ensure their needs are met. For more information, please visit:


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Re: Veteran Homelessness / Topics & Posted Articles

Post by Bruce72 on Wed 02 Nov 2016, 07:39

Subsides for homeless veterans! Just get it done! Do it before Christmas!

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More than 100 military veterans homeless in Vancouver

Post by Guest on Tue 01 Nov 2016, 12:42

More than 100 military veterans homeless in Vancouver

Vancouver Poppy Fund raising money to help veterans, families

NOVEMBER 1, 2016 08:43 AM

The city’s last homeless count in March recorded 100 military veterans living on the street and in shelters. Another 27 said they had served in an armed force elsewhere in the world. Photo Dan Toulgoet

The Canadian Forces veteran had served in Bosnia.

He was living in Stanley Park when the police picked him up more than a year ago and put him in touch with Veterans Affairs Canada.

Then Jim Howard, the administrator of the Vancouver Poppy Fund, got involved.

“I got him a hotel room for three days while Veterans Affairs was setting up some accommodation for him, and they got him a roof over on the North Shore,” said Howard, a veteran of the Royal Canadian Air Force. “And a week later, he was back in the park again because he couldn’t handle living in the confines of a building.”

Howard doesn’t know where the man is today.

The veteran, whom Howard estimated to be in his 40s or 50s, may have been one of the 100 people volunteers interviewed during the city’s annual homeless count in March who said they had served in the Canadian Forces. Another 27 homeless people said they had served in another armed force elsewhere in the world.

That’s a grand total of 127 homeless military veterans.

That population could be larger since about 700 of the 1,847 people counted as homeless in Vancouver in March declined or were unable to be interviewed by volunteers. The city also acknowledges they don’t find all of the city’s homeless during the annual 24-hour counts.

Volunteers conduct a survey during the count that includes questions about health, income, heritage and how long the person has been homeless. In the 2015 count, the city began asking whether a homeless person had served in the Canadian Forces because data from communities across Canada suggested that a small but consistent number of veterans were homeless. Ninety-five people in the 2015 count said they had served in the Canadian Forces.

The purpose of asking such a question, which was requested by Veterans Affairs Canada, was so volunteers could understand the scope of services homeless veterans require. Volunteers did not record whether a veteran had served in a combat zone, peacekeeping mission or in Canada.

At this time of the year, as Canadians make donations to the Poppy Fund, Howard wants Vancouverites to know that a good portion of the money collected at legions and army, navy and air force branches goes towards helping homeless veterans. Paying for a hotel room for three days for the Bosnia veteran is an example, he said, noting close to $400,000 in donations was received last year as a result of a mail appeal and donations given for poppies and wreaths.

Although the number of homeless veterans is significant in Vancouver, Howard said it pales in comparison to the United States, where some estimates say one in four people living on the street are veterans.

“And they don’t have something like the Poppy Fund to assist them,” he said.

Data on the number of homeless veterans in Canada is not consistent. Information on the Veterans Affairs Canada website says the homeless veteran population “is considered to be relatively small compared to the overall veteran population of about 700,000.”

Tim Kerr, director of the Veterans Priority Program Secretariat at Veterans Affairs Canada, said the agency is developing a strategy to better find and track the country’s homeless veterans. One government study, he said, identified an estimated 2,950 homeless veterans were staying in shelters across the country.

A recent research project conducted by the Mental Health Commission of Canada revealed that 99 of 2,298 participants in a five-city study that included Vancouver identified themselves as veterans. A point-in-time count done in 2015 by government in smaller communities found an average of five to seven per cent of homeless people surveyed said they served in the military or RCMP, Kerr said.

“We certainly don’t know as much as we could about the number of homeless veterans in Canada,” he said by telephone from Charlottetown, P.E.I. “There’s a number of reasons for that. It’s something that is difficult to track due to the nature of homeless individuals.”

Still, Kerr said, Veterans Affairs has a number of ways to track and help homeless veterans, including outreach from branch offices such as the one in Vancouver on Robson Street, and working with legions, shelters and municipalities.

Veterans Affairs also works closely with Employment and Social Development Canada, which has the federal mandate to address homelessness. That agency provides funding to some shelters and liaises with shelter staff to locate veterans. Also, VETS Canada, an organization based in Halifax, has volunteers across the country, including Vancouver, who regularly walk in communities to identify homeless veterans.

The primary goal is to help get veterans off the street and provide them benefits earned for service. If a veteran is not eligible for benefits, Kerr said, that person is connected to services, including housing and health care, available for homeless people in a community.

“We really want to see veterans have optimal well-being,” Kerr said. “They served their country, they deserve to be productive members of society, and for whatever reason they’re unable to achieve that. It’s up to us to do our best to get them back to where they should be.”

A research study conducted by the University of Western Ontario found that veterans often become homeless one decade after leaving the service. The transition from the military to an unstructured civilian life was cited as a vulnerable period. Issues that led to homelessness included addiction to substances and mental health problems, the study said.

A 2013 study conducted by top researchers on homelessness titled “The State of Homelessness in Canada” said at least 200,000 Canadians experience homelessness in a given year, with at least 30,000 every night.



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Advocates say an end to homelessness is within reach

Post by Guest on Thu 20 Oct 2016, 14:45

Advocates say an end to homelessness is within reach.

Situation still at 'crisis' levels, but Canada is making progress through strategy, spending, report finds.

Oct 20, 2016

Mass homelessness remains at crisis levels in Canada, but for the first time in 25 years, advocates say they have some hope the country is on course to end the plight of people living on the street.

A new report out today notes a dramatic demographic shift in who is using shelters, moving from a group of mostly older white men to a more diverse population that includes women, seniors, youth, veterans and families. While Indigenous people make up only 4.3 per cent of the Canadian population, they represent 27 to 33 per cent of shelter users and are 10 times more likely to use homeless emergency shelters than the average Canadian.

The report says the federal government's national housing strategy signals an opportunity to ensure all Canadians have affordable housing. It calls for an investment of $4.5 billion in the next budget. That's an increase of $1.8 billion — an amount equal to about $1 each week per Canadian — that could end homelessness, the report says.

The report recommends an overall commitment of $43.8 billion over the next decade.

Difficult choices, priorities

"We agree with the government that all Canadians deserve safe, decent and affordable housing," said Tim Richer, president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, one of the organizations that released the report. While it's the right objective to try to solve all of Canada's housing problems at once, from homelessness to the rising cost of home ownership, said Richer, "the sheer scale of the challenge when set against political and fiscal realities will force, should force, the government to make some difficult choices and set priorities."

Richter called homelessness a public health emergency, and said the national housing strategy should prioritize those for whom a lack of housing is a matter of life and death.

Stephen Gaetz, director of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, the other organization behind the report, pointed to models like one adopted in Medicine Hat, Alta., and Hamilton, Ont. that have proven successful in reducing or even eradicating homelessness.

Medicine Hat adopted a Housing First strategy that changed the focus from temporary shelters to getting homeless people into places of their own without conditions such as staying sober. The policy was first tried in the United States, and later, in Britain.

"We know what to do, now is the time to do something about it," he said, noting that failing to tackle homelessness means high costs to health care and criminal justice systems down the road.

'National tragedy'

Gaetz called for greater action and leadership by the federal government and suggested there be a focus on priority populations.

"It's a national tragedy that we allow so many Indigenous people to fall into homelessness," he said. "We need to focus on veterans. People who have served the country should not be treated this way when they return home. And we need to focus on youth, because if we don't address youth homelessness now, we're actually investing in the homelessness of the future because they will become chronic homeless adults."

Some of the report's key recommendations:

Adopt clear and measurable outcomes, milestones and criteria with strategy to end homelessness.
Develop a new federal/provincial/territorial agreement to define local leadership on housing investment.
Develop targeted strategies for youth, veterans and Indigenous people.
Implement an affordable housing tax credit.


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Kingston group aims to help local homeless veterans

Post by Guest on Mon 03 Oct 2016, 06:01

Kingston group aims to help local homeless veterans.

October 02, 2016

KINGSTON – Dustin Rekunyk has served in the military for the last decade. Now he’s also the team lead for the Kingston chapter of VETS Canada — a group that’s pounding the pavement for a good cause.
Dustin Rekunyk/Team Lead:
“VETS CANADA is a non-profit a-politcal volunteer led organization. We use the ‘Boots on the Ground’ or BOG walk as our primary tool to locate homeless in crisis or about the be homeless veterans across Canada.”
Heather Senoran:
“According to a study conducted in March 2015, an estimated 2.7 percent of the Canadian homeless population is identified as veterans. That adds up to at least 2 thousand 250 people.”
Boots on the Ground walks are happening across the country.
Volunteers hit the streets… making stops at shelters, churches and community centres — hoping to lend a helping hand to those in need.
Dustin Rekunyk:
“Ensuring that they get reconnected with Veterans Affairs Canada and that the programs that are available to them, they are reconnected with.”
Though the first Kingston BOG walk didn’t lead to any former soldiers — the group is happy to hand out drinks, snacks and flyers to anyone living on the streets — vet or not.
John Vanstone/Volunteer:
“Being a smiling face. Being someone who shakes someone’s hand and looks them eye to eye. In whatever way, provide a glimmer of hope for what sometimes can be a hopeless lifestyle.”
John Vanstone, a civilian Chaplain at CFB Kingston, works with transititoning soldiers who often face mental health illnesses. He says the outcome can lead to a very dark road.
John Vanstone:
“That self isolating mixed with the trauma can result in leading to not being able to make ends meet and before they know it they’re on the street.”
But hopefully not for long.
Every month these boots will hit the ground for another walk — to engage and support Kingston’s homeless population.. one step at a time.


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Retired veteran to offer free accommodations to homeless vets

Post by Guest on Tue 30 Aug 2016, 17:46

Retired veteran to offer free accommodations to homeless vets.

August 30, 2016

A retired member of the Canadian Forces is hoping to give back to his fellow soldiers in a big way, especially those in crisis or without a home.

Michael Tait has purchased a multi-unit apartment building in Saint John, where he plans to offer free accommodations to homeless veterans and members who still serve.

“I know how many homeless vets there are here in Canada, or near homeless,” Tait said. “Basically, you know, going in debt further and further while they still occupy a house.”

He also wants to offer veterans a job at the shelter in hopes he can help them transition into civilian life.

“[For someone who] just needs that boost to get a job so they can put it on a resume and say ‘I was superintendent at Mike Tait’s Homeless Shelter, or whatever,” Tait said.

“Just get them some experience, stuff to put on a resume.”
Right now Tait is acting as a lone wolf, but his project has caught the attention of VETS Canada, which aids vets in crisis. Its president says it’s something that could work.

“There’s a lot of questions that need to be asked first, but it’s one of those things where if it’s a positive thing we’re going to look into it,” said Jim Lowther.

Lowther says there are also other organizations which may be able to get involved and help with the housing project.

“There’s also the Royal Canadian Legion that we could hook him up with,” Lowther said. “Other NGOs [non-governmental organizations] and partners, but again, if it’s something that’s going to help our vets it’s a positive thing as far as I’m concerned.”

Tait, who was born in Ontario but spent time in Saint John through CFB Gagetown, says he chose the port city out of a love for New Brunswick.

He currently lives in Ecuador with his wife Amanda.


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Re: Veteran Homelessness / Topics & Posted Articles

Post by pinger on Mon 29 Aug 2016, 19:59

Neither have I south of you teen.
No GoC, just civie stuff like Cheryl Forchuk.
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Re: Veteran Homelessness / Topics & Posted Articles

Post by Guest on Mon 29 Aug 2016, 17:32

absolutely nothing teen NB.



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Re: Veteran Homelessness / Topics & Posted Articles

Post by Teentitan on Mon 29 Aug 2016, 17:24

Has anyone heard on the news any homeless studies for the province you live in? I'm in Ontario and have heard nothing.

I'm asking because Hehr was very adamant in the spring that they had to work with the provinces to make sure that VAC was not stepping on their plan or offering too much.

I'd like to know if VAC is working with the provinces or is this a distract news item before Parliament resumes next week?
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Shelter use higher for military veterans, aboriginals than general population

Post by Guest on Mon 29 Aug 2016, 16:46

Shelter use higher for military veterans, aboriginals than general population: study

August 29, 2016

TTAWA -- Fewer beds remain empty each night in Canada's emergency homeless shelters as users stay days, sometimes weeks, longer than they did a decade ago, even as their overall numbers decline.
Within that population of almost 137,000 shelter users are nearly 3,000 veterans and up to 45,820 aboriginals, a group over-represented in homeless shelters compared to their percentage of the general population in every community looked at in a newly released federal study.
The findings of the federal review of 10 years of data from more than 200 emergency shelters nationwide paint one of the most detailed pictures yet of the population of shelter users, but also raise a number of questions for experts searching for an explanation behind the numbers.

Why, for instance, are more than half of female veterans under age 30, whereas male veterans are over 40, the average age of shelter users? Is it something more directly tied to their service or maybe prior domestic abuse?
"It raises more questions because it's just a number, but it's a number that doesn't fit. So when a number doesn't fit, it means we need to figure out what else is going on," said Cheryl Forchuk, a professor of nursing at Western University in London, Ont., who has studied homeless veterans.
Federal researchers estimate that there are 2,950 military veterans accessing emergency shelters, or about 2.2 per cent of shelter users, a number higher than the 2,250 federal researchers estimated in a groundbreaking study more than a year ago.
Their numbers in shelters mirror those in the general population, unlike aboriginals whose rates of shelter use are on average 10 times higher than for the general population and 20 times higher for indigenous seniors.
There were also 5,036 immigrants and almost 1,100 refugees who visited a shelter in the last year of the study period that covered nearly three-quarters of the total emergency shelter beds in the country.
Nationally, shelters are running at just over 92 per cent capacity on any given night, a 10-point increase from 2005. The report's authors note that the overall capacity in Canada's emergency shelter system, which is about 15,000 beds, has not changed significantly since 2005.
While the overall number of shelter users has dropped, their length of stay has become longer. Families and seniors, for instance, are likely to stay more than three weeks in shelters compared to the approximately nine days recorded in 2005.

"The fact that people are staying in shelters longer, that's a bad sign because that's going to cost more. The longer someone's homeless, the worse everything gets in their life and the harder it is to get people housed and stabilized," said Stephen Gaetz, director of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness.
The results released Monday mark the first time that federal researchers have estimated in detail the number of aboriginals, veterans, immigrants and refugees using emergency shelters.
The study looked at information on 1.9 million shelter stays at more than 200 of the 400 emergency shelters across Canada between 2005 and 2014 and provide key indicators for policy makers about large-scale trends in the homeless population.
The numbers don't take into account stays at shelters for women escaping domestic violence, or those set up specifically for refugees.
The country is expected to have a more detailed look at the veterans homeless population, as well as aboriginals and refugees among others, when federal researchers release a more complete study later this fall that takes into account shelter numbers and results from the first federally organized, point-in-time count of homeless populations in 30 Canadian cities.


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Subsidies for homeless veterans could be coming

Post by Guest on Mon 29 Aug 2016, 16:43

Subsidies for homeless veterans could be coming.

29 August, 2016

Help may be on the way for former members of the Canadian military who are homeless or face the prospect of having no place to live.

The Canadian Press news agency reports federal officials are prepared to recommend that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government offer rental subsidies to those affected.

A study by Employment and Social Development Canada last year estimated that 2,250 soldiers are using shelters on a regular basis.

That’s about 2.7 per cent of the total homeless population that uses temporary lodging.

According to CP, the strategy also recommends that the government build new housing units specifically for veterans.

The strategy suggests Canada doesn’t have enough units to handle the unique needs of former military members who can have addiction and mental health issues related to their service.

Research shows that that veterans who end up homeless tend to be older than non-veterans who wind up in the same situation.

It also found that former military personnel are more prone to so-called episodic homelessness, people who live on and off the street three more times a year.

In last year’s federal election campaign, Trudeau promised to “reinstate” lifelong pensions for Canada’s injured veterans and pledged $300 million annually to expand and create military support programs.

Benefits only flow to Canadian veterans who can show a link between their military service and their injury or disease.

A final draft of the strategy isn’t expected to be completed and made public until later this year.


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Give rental subsidies to homeless vets

Post by Guest on Sun 28 Aug 2016, 16:57

Give rental subsidies to homeless vets: Veterans Affairs draft report.

AUGUST 28, 2016

OTTAWA — Veterans Affairs officials are ready to recommend that the federal government give rental subsidies to veterans who are homeless or nearly so in order to combat what they describe as an unacceptable situation in Canada.

A draft of the new federal strategy to combat homelessness among veterans also recommends the government build new affordable housing units specifically for veterans, suggesting Canada doesn’t have enough units to handle the unique needs of former military members who can have addiction and mental health issues related to their service.

The strategy says that what homeless veterans require is access to immediate housing, peer support and outreach to get them off the street, and months or even years of intensive case management with a broad range of services.

The draft strategy, dated Aug. 4 and obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act, says the government has an obligation to help the potentially thousands of veterans who are homeless in Canada.

A final draft of the strategy isn’t expected to be completed and made public until later this year.

The document doesn’t suggest that a veteran will ever go homeless again, but aims to reduce the numbers to a point where “homelessness is rare, brief and non-recurring, and no veteran is forced to live on the street.”

“As a department, we’ve got a mandate for the care, treatment and re-establishment to civilian life of veterans in general, and clearly somebody who is homeless is not successfully re-established in civilian society,” said Tim Kerr, director of the veterans priority programs secretariat at Veterans Affairs Canada, which is heading up work on the strategy.

“Because of that, our minister, and our deputy minister and I and my team believe that we have an obligation to address this issue of veteran homelessness.”

The recommendations, if implemented, would mark a shift in veterans benefits programs that leave no room to provide things like housing subsidies that have been successful in the United States at keeping veterans off the street.

Benefits only flow to Canadian veterans who show a link between their military service and their injury or disease, a difficult task for a veteran who becomes homeless a decade after his or her service, said Jim Lowther, president of Veterans Emergency Transition Services (VETS) Canada, a volunteer-based group that has helped about 1,200 veterans off the streets in the last six years.

Veterans affairs workers can get emergency funds from charitable trusts to help homeless veterans pay for rent or food, but the process can sometimes be lengthy, the document says. Instead, groups like VETS Canada and the Royal Canadian Legion step in to help pay for housing and supports.

“We need housing in every province designated housing for vets. We need transition homes in every province to help them get back on their feet,” Lowther said.

The strategy calls on the government to expand the eligibility criteria for benefits and services to help homeless veterans, give local offices the flexibility to quickly get emergency cash for a veteran in need, and better connect those local offices with local service providers to reach more homeless veterans.

Kerr, who spent 28 years in the navy, said the recommendations are based on years of research and months of work by the departmental task force. The strategy itself is a high-level document with the details of how to implement it to be worked out at a later date, he said.

It’s difficult to get an exact count on the number of veterans who are homeless in Canada.

A federal shelter study estimated about 2,250 veterans use shelters annually, but cautioned the actual number may be much higher. Point-in-time counts of homeless populations in cities show veteran form between five and seven per cent of the homeless population, which would put their number over 11,000.

Many homeless veterans in Canada avoid shelters, unlike their American counterparts, because the shelters lack the structure they were used to in the military, said Cheryl Forchuk, a professor of nursing at Western University in London, Ont.

The document says the average homeless veteran is over age 50, became homeless about 10 years after being released from service, and abuse alcohol or drugs.

There are cases of veterans two or three years out of the military who are homeless with some even sooner than that as they burn through savings while waiting for their military pensions to kick in, Lowther said.

Forchuk said research suggests post-traumatic stress disorder doesn’t appear to be a central factor in them becoming homeless.

The military could reduce the risk of a veteran becoming homeless by identifying early on whether they need help with things like money management, or substance use that left unchecked could manifest into addiction in a decade and push someone onto the street, Forchuk said.

“It’s just a matter of where your eyes are. The trauma issues and the PTSD are the obvious things at the top and they’re doing a relatively good job of at least paying some attention in addressing that, but substance use takes a long time to get really full-fledged, particularly alcoholism,” she said.

The document doesn’t call for the establishment of harm reduction programs where, for example, participants receive small amounts of alcohol at regular intervals to help them manage their addiction. The practice is politically contentious, but has been shown to have positive results.

Kerr said his group is looking into how to harm reduction programs could work in the overall strategy.


A by-the-numbers look at the state of homelessness among Canadian military veterans:

2,250: Estimated number of veterans who use shelters annually.

639: Homeless veterans registered in Veteran Affairs Canada’s database as of June 30.

232: Homeless veterans in the database who are between age 50 and 59.

138: Homeless veterans in the database who are over age 65.

235,000: Canadians who experience homelessness annually.

5-7: Range, in percentage points, of the homeless population who are veterans, based on municipal point-in-time homeless counts.

12,000: Estimated number of veterans experiencing homelessness in Canada, based on that spread.

40,000: Approximate number of veterans who experience homelessness in the United States annually.

47: Percent by which the United States has decreased veterans homelessness since 2010 using measures being considered by Veterans Affairs Canada.


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Groundbreaking expected in 2017 for facility for homeless veterans

Post by Guest on Mon 25 Jul 2016, 10:29

Groundbreaking expected in 2017 for facility for homeless veterans.

Groundbreaking is finally expected next year, for a new facility in Ottawa that will help homeless veterans re-establish themselves.

The Ottawa Mission estimates between 6 and 9 per cent of the men using their shelter are veterans and Suzanne Le, the executive director of Multifaith Housing Initiative says it's become clear something must be done to help those who have served their country.

"A facility like this is desperately needed," said Le. "Originally we had planned to build only a 16-unit facility and then as the studies and the numbers started coming back, we realized that we needed to do a lot more than that. We sat down with our supports provider and discussed what was the largest facility we could build without making it feel like a facility, while allowing it to still be a home. Forty was the number we came up with."

Veterans House will provide permanent housing with a range of supports for veterans in need.

"It's not transitional housing," said Le. "They don't come in and do a program and then have to leave. They can stay as long as they want or need to stay. It's housing and then we bring all the supports to them and give them whatever their needs are."

The $8-million facility will be built on the former Rockcliffe Air Base. It's hoped that Veterans House will become a model that can be used across the country.

"They have some facilities like this in the United States and in the United Kingdom," said Le. "Both have done a pretty good job of taking care of their homeless veterans. Canada has done less of a good job. I think Canadians have been largely unaware of how big a problem this is. It's quite counter intuitive and shocking. In fact it's hard to believe even when you're faced with it."

Fundraising is currently underway for Veterans House. The National Capital Open to Support Our Troops held next month at the Hylands Golf Club aims to raise $100,000 for the project.


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Peel police employees in Brampton support local veterans

Post by Guest on Thu 21 Jul 2016, 14:39

Peel police employees in Brampton support local veterans.

July 21, 2016

Peel Regional Police employees at Brampton’s 22 Division are helping Canadian veterans by donating food, gift cards and other necessities for Operation: Leave the Streets Behind.

The first donations of non-perishable food were delivered to Branch 15 on Elizabeth Street Tuesday, to be distributed as needed, according to police civilian employee Jennifer Zahodrik. She has spearheaded the workplace campaign.

The four banker boxes of food were filled in a month, and more donations will be collected from now through to the end of the year, according to Zahodrik.

Leave the Streets Behind has a goal of ensuring that every homeless or near-homeless veteran gets the help they need to leave the street and secure housing.

Joe Sweeney, a Korean War veteran, started it in Toronto seven years ago.

Ontario Command Legion Branches created a Homeless Veterans Assistance Fund, and Ladies Auxiliary units used the money to assemble “comfort baskets” with shampoo, shaving cream, hats, mitts, socks and other personal items. The assistance fund has also helped house veterans by assisting with first/last month’s rent, furniture and food vouchers, rental help for some facing eviction, and medical help has been provided, including dental, transportation, stress therapy, and glasses.

Zahodrik said the 22 Division campaign will collect gift cards for grocery and other stores and other donations will be collected depending on the need.

She has done other fundraisers, and has family members who are veterans, so the campaign resonated with her. She obtained the necessary approvals to collect donations.

Any individual wishing to donate to the Homeless Veterans Assistance Fund can mail a cheque, payable to The Joe Sweeney Fund, to Royal Canadian Legion, Ontario Command, 89 Industrial Pkwy. N., Aurora, ON, L4G 4C4. Tax receipts will be issued.


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Halifax Heroes: Army of volunteers provide 'ground support' to homeless and at-risk veterans

Post by Guest on Mon 18 Jul 2016, 06:12

Halifax Heroes: Army of volunteers provide 'ground support' to homeless and at-risk veterans.

Since 2010, VETS Canada has helped close to 1,200 still serving military or retired military members and their families to reintegrate into civilian life.

Sun Jul 17 2016

“He once fought for our country. Now he fights just to survive.”
“She battled the face of terrorism. Now she faces a battle with depression.”
Those powerful messages featured on a VETS (Veterans Emergency Transition Services) Canada brochure are intended to create awareness about an organization committed to helping homeless and at-risk veterans reintegrate into civilian life.
Dartmouth residents Jim and Debbie Lowther founded VETS Canada in 2010 after Jim came across four homeless veterans at a Sunday supper where he was working as a volunteer.
A retired military member himself, he and his wife started a Facebook page in 2010 devoted to the cause of helping such men and women.
They had no idea what they’d sparked what would become a nationwide movement.
Since 2010, VETS Canada has helped close to 1,200 still serving military or retired military members and their dependents above the age of 18, in addition to serving or retired RCMP members.
When national executive director for VETS Canada Gail Gardiner contacted Metro, she asked if they could honour their volunteers by asking two to speak on behalf of them all.

Shawn Hambley and Anthony Banfield, both currently serving with the Royal Canadian Navy, agreed to sit down and share what volunteering with VETS Canada has meant to them.
“I found out about VETS Canada because when I was working at Juno Towers I actually ran into a vet who was having issues who was staying there,” Banfield recalled.

“Me and my PO were working closely with him and we actually didn’t know what to do with him until one of our supply officers told us about VETS Canada. So once I found out what VETS Canada can do for a retired member like that who is in need, it really opened up my eyes and that’s when I started volunteering.”
Banfield said that retired naval chief had been in and out of shelters and was living on the streets. He described VETS Canada’s intervention as “life changing” for the man, who was suffering with several medical issues including dementia. He has since been reunited with his family in another province and is living there, off the streets.
“VETS Canada stepped in and changed this man’s life…You never know what situation you could be in in years to come, and it’s just nice to know that someone will be out there that can help me,” he said.
Hambley said he started volunteering with the organization as a way to give back because in addition to being a serving member, he grew up in a military family. He said the organization is hands-on and he appreciates the immediacy of seeing the difference he and the other volunteers make.
“The stories that really stick out for me are when we will get a referral in through the website. It could be single parent, someone who was in the military, now living with two or three kids under their roof and they can’t pay their power bill and have been told their power is going to be shut off immediately,” he said.
“That’s when we can step in, try to assist them, see the situation and get in there and keep the lights on for that family. It’s food, shelter, heat. It’s giving them the basic necessities.”

VETS Canada organizes fairly regular ‘Boots on the Ground’ events where volunteers walk the streets connecting with people and seeking veterans in need of “ground support.” The last one in May took place in 13 Canadian cities including Halifax, where about 25 volunteers showed up.
“Being able to get the exposure nationally and see the numbers of people being helped not just in Halifax but all across the country really opened my eyes as to how widespread the issue is,” said Hambley.
“Right now the biggest concern that I am seeing is the delay in people receiving their pensions when they’re released. That’s a big concern right now. People don’t have months and months of funds set up upon retirement and they end up waiting a long time to get their pensions.”
VETS Canada co-founder Debbie Lowther said there are about 15 to 20 active volunteers in Halifax alone but as a non-profit they’re always looking for more. Anyone wishing to help the cause can sign up to volunteer or donate through their website.
“We have a contract with Veterans Affairs but it’s a small contract and does not make ends meet. The more people that know who we are, the more we get asked for help. They keep coming and coming,” Lowther said.
“We could not do this without volunteers. They are essential. It’s hard work and it’s not easy, particularly when you have a couple cases back to back that are difficult.”
For volunteers like Banfield, being part of an organization like VETS Canada is meaningful because it is changing lives.
“There are still lots of vets on the streets but if VETS Canada wasn’t around, more would be homeless,” he said.

“They’re trying to find these homeless vets and put them up and getting them the help they need. And they’re succeeding.”


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