Canada's vets often 'fall through the cracks ~ FINALLY AN ARTICLE WITH REAL INSIGHT

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Canada's vets often 'fall through the cracks'

Post by Guest on Sun 17 Jan 2016, 12:17

Why are veterans struggling with homelessness?

There's no single explanation for why veterans become homelessness, says Scott Maxwell, executive director of Wounded Warriors.

Wounded Warriors connects injured Canadian Forces members with different services.

Maxwell said veterans often "fall through the cracks" due to gaps in various services.

He said while many factors - including mental health injuries such as PTSD - can cause homelessness, the lack of efficient services in helping military members transition to civilian life is a problem.

"What's the next career gonna be?" Maxwell said. "These individuals thought they'd have longer career than they did in the Canadian Forces." Maxwell said while ex-military members have a number of skills that can be applied to a civilian workplace, seemingly small things, such as building a resume, can be a challenge.

Maxwell is not the only person who cites the challenges of becoming a civilian after years of military service as a factor that contributes to veteran homelessness.

CJ Wilneff, an former infantry soldier who was medically released in 2014 due to PTSD after his tour in Afghanistan, said everything - from finding a doctor to filling out basic paper work - was a challenge after leaving the military.

Wilneff had joined the military in 2006, at an age of 16, which means he'd never even had to look for a doctor on his own.

"There's nobody to tell you 'This is right, this is wrong,'" Wilneff said. "You go from one way of life to another totally different way of life all by yourself." Wilneff added he spent almost two years without a disability check due to slow paperwork while getting ready for his release. There were also other administrative problems because he didn't finish his mental health treatment, after he was asked to leave due a relationship he had with a staff member at a treatment centre.

Eventually, Wilneff found himself couch surfing for a few months, until Wounded Warriors helped him with paying his rent and getting him back on his feet.

"I had no home ... jumping from couch to couch because I had nowhere else to go," Wilneff said. "I had a terrible time." Eventually, his pay stubs started coming in and Wilneff was back on his feet, although he said he's "nowhere near normal." Wilneff is now 26 years old and living in Guelph. He dedicates his time to speak in public about his experience for Wounded Warriors. He wants to go back to school eventually but he's still not fully recovered from his PTSD, he said.

On the recent estimated number on homeless veterans - about 2,250 in Canada - Wilneff said he's not surprised.

"I understand the struggle," he said. "I know how easy it is to become that (homeless)." Jim Lowther, president and founder of non-profit charity, VETS (Veterans Emergency Transition Services) Canada, said Veterans Affairs need to do more to help the members "smooth out" their transition to civilian lives.

Lowther, who himself was medically released after 15 years of service, said he understands how lonely the transition can be.

"I didn't want to get out ... I wasn't ready to get out," he said. "I didn't have anyone to help me through the process." Lowther added veteran homelessness affects both women and men, since their roles are equal within the military.

VETS Canada is looking to sit down with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, along with minister of national defence and minister of veterans affairs to talk about the plans to end veteran homeless, which is reachable within two years, Lowther contends.

"Canadians are caring, kind people .. now they're seeing there are lots of homeless veterans," he said. "We could be the first NATO country to end homelessness for veterans." According to Veterans Affairs, the department's current priorities include helping veterans who are homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless.

Veterans Affairs is currently in the hiring process, in order to re-open the nine offices that were closed down by the Conservative government, said Kate-T Murphy, a spokeswoman for the Veterans Affairs.

Murphy also said evidence of a medical disability and proof that it is work-related is needed to claim disability benefits. On the other hand, veterans and their families can access other services from Veterans Affairs regardless of whether or not they are receiving VAC disability benefits, she said.

julienne.bay@sunmedia.ca

BY THE NUMBERS:

- 2,250 former soldiers use shelters on regular basis, about 2.7 % of the total homeless population that uses temporary lodging.

- Veterans who end up homeless tend to be older than non-veterans in the same circumstances.

- Ex-soldiers are more prone to “episodic homelessness,” which means they are on-and-off on the street three or more times within a year.

- There is a particularly high rate of episodic homelessness among female veterans. 16 % of female ex-soldiers reported multiple stints without a roof over their heads, compared with just 6 % of non-veteran women.

- The average age of homeless veterans is 52, compared with 37 in the general population.

- Many ex-soldiers cite alcoholism, drug addiction and mental health issues as reasons for their circumstances.

n Soldiers who are being released on medical grounds, particularly for post-traumatic stress disorder, are among the most vulnerable.

(Source: Information released to The Canadian Press by Employment and Social Development Canada, based on March 2015 study. The study is based on a database that tracks 60 emergency shelters across the country and added veterans as an identifiable category in 2014.)

http://www.ottawasun.com/2016/01/16/canadas-vets-often-fall-through-the-cracks

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Re: Canada's vets often 'fall through the cracks ~ FINALLY AN ARTICLE WITH REAL INSIGHT

Post by Guest on Sun 17 Jan 2016, 12:22

How can Canada fail its domestic heroes?

At a street corner in Ottawa, a man stands beside an olive-coloured military duffel bag with his hands stretched out.

A cardboard box on top of his bag reads: "CND Army 25 YRS; U.N. NATO."

John, not his real name, has been sleeping at the Salvation Army's shelter in the Byward Market since last August. He's been panhandling at the same spot daily, morning to night.

"Begging for money is low ... it sucks," he says.

John is one of an estimated 2,250 veterans who are using shelters on regular basis in Canada. That estimate, from Employment and Social Development Canada, made headlines recently after it was released to The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

Questions and outrage soon followed. How was it possible that so many soldiers, in a country that says it holds them in high regard, are ending up on the street? How could Canada, set to take in thousands of newcomers from war-torn Syria, be failing its own domestic heroes so badly, some have asked.

John's story is one of their stories. And here is how he tells it: He was a sergeant posted at Petawawa. He had served since 1976 but after injuring his foot during a tour in Afghanistan, he was medically released in 2003. His lump sum of $18,000 from the military upon his release lasted less than a year because he had to give money to two ex-wives, he said.

It was in Afghanistan, John says, that he became addicted to heroin. He was offered a job, on base, as a civilian cook after his release, but he was fired after missing shifts and nodding off at work while going through a drug-treatment requiring methadone.

He calls his journey to homelessness was a "long, slow downward spiral." "I loved it (being in the military) ... I wouldn't have stayed that long if I didn't," he said. "I just want some help from Veterans Affairs, that's all." It's a sympathetic tale.

But it's not true. Not entirely, at least.

***

John's Canadian Forces file has no record of him being deployed to Afghanistan, although it confirms he was in Croatia between 1994 and 1995.

Although he was qualified as a soldier in the armour trade in the late 80s, he had changed his trade to cook in 1990 for an unknown reason.

He released from the military in 2008, for reasons officials can't disclose. His rank was corporal at the time of his release, two rank lower than sergeant.

So why change his real story? Especially since he really is a veteran?

John shrugs. "It doesn't matter what I say," he said. "They're going to say I'm my own worst enemy ... it was my fault," he said. "I've lost my house, I've lost my car, everything." John said he was actually released from the military in 2008 - not in 2003 -- due to his drug addiction.

While the military was unaware he was going through a drug treatment program, he started missing work and had started nodding off during work, which resulted in his release, John said.

He added he's now clean but he would not receive help by Veterans Affairs Canada to get off the streets, since he didn't suffer from service-related injuries.

***

John is one of the kinds of veteran who can fall through the cracks in Canada.

Veterans Affairs supports only those that are medically released due to service-related injuries.

For example, if a military personnel gets injured while on vacation, he or she can't claim disability benefits from Veterans Affairs.

"There's a gap there that needs to be filled," says Walter Semianiw, a former lieutenant-general.

"When you're out, if it's not service related ... if you're a single, homeless vet, you're on your own."

Semianiw is a member of the Ottawa chapter of Veterans Emergency Transition Services Canada, a federally registered non-profit charity that helps homeless veterans get back on their feet. The Ottawa chapter opened about five months ago. It's the official partner of the Veterans Affairs for helping homeless veterans.

VETS Canada, which has a network of volunteers - most of them serving or ex-members of military or RCMP - helps homeless veterans. But it's ultimately up to Veterans Affairs to aid those in need for the long term, Semianiw said.

He said every medically released veteran should automatically receive a pension. While Semianiw himself has served for more than three decades, many military members are serving shorter terms, he said. And those serving less than 10 years don't get a pension, no matter how many oversea tours they've done.

"The military is a family that isn't there when you leave," Semianiw said.

***

Meanwhile, John knows he's out of luck when it comes to getting help from Veterans Affairs Canada.

He's also a father of two adult children that he hasn't seen for a while; they don't know he's on the streets and "They're not going to know." One recent day, he stood at his usual panhandling spot, while Lorne, another homeless veteran who spent a year at the Salvation Army's shelter, stopped by to say his goodbyes.

Lorne, an ex-army soldier who declined to be interviewed but said he suffered from severe PTSD, was off to a transitional hotel with a few volunteers from VETS Canada, who had found him during their monthly "Boots on the Ground" walk. During the walk, the volunteers visit various shelters to identify homeless veterans.

John told VETS Canada that he "wasn't ready" to get off the street, but he hasn't told them his whole story.

"There are lots of unfairness in the world," John said, after Lorne and the volunteers left. "Whether or not I say it's fair or unfair ... I'm going up against the big, green machine." He said PTSD contributed to his drug addiction. Symptoms of PTSD - which could have been caused at any time during his service - often show up down the road, he said.

"I did the best job I could when I was out there," he said, insisting he was never in the reserve forces, contrary to his file.

John said he wants to get off the street, although he doesn't know when that will be.

"Right now, I take it a day at a time ... I'm living day to day, living every moment like it's my last." He agreed with Semianiw that Veterans Affairs should help all veterans in need, whether the reasons for the member's release are service-related or not.

"All of us should get the same break," John said.

"If it comes down to putting people in certain boxes, then very few people are going to get help."

julienne.bay@sunmedia.ca

Resources for veterans:



- Veterans Affairs Canada:

http://www.veterans.gc.ca/

- Canada Company:

A charity organization that offers Military Employment Transition Program and more.

https://www.canadacompany.ca/

- VETS (Veterans Emergency Transition Services) Canada:

A Canada-wide network offering veterans emergency transition services, focusing on homelessness.

http://vetscanada.org/

- Helmets to Hardhats Canada

http://www.helmetstohardhats.ca/

http://www.torontosun.com/2016/01/16/how-can-canada-fail-its-domestic-heroes

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Canada's vets often 'fall through the cracks ~ FINALLY AN ARTICLE WITH REAL INSIGHT

Post by Ex Member on Mon 18 Jan 2016, 21:22

http://www.ottawasun.com/2016/01/16/canadas-vets-often-fall-through-the-cracks
Why are veterans struggling with homelessness?

There's no single explanation for why veterans become homelessness, says Scott Maxwell, executive director of Wounded Warriors.

Wounded Warriors connects injured Canadian Forces members with different services.

Maxwell said veterans often "fall through the cracks" due to gaps in various services.

He said while many factors - including mental health injuries such as PTSD - can cause homelessness, the lack of efficient services in helping military members transition to civilian life is a problem.

"What's the next career gonna be?" Maxwell said. "These individuals thought they'd have longer career than they did in the Canadian Forces." Maxwell said while ex-military members have a number of skills that can be applied to a civilian workplace, seemingly small things, such as building a resume, can be a challenge.

Maxwell is not the only person who cites the challenges of becoming a civilian after years of military service as a factor that contributes to veteran homelessness.

CJ Wilneff, an former infantry soldier who was medically released in 2014 due to PTSD after his tour in Afghanistan, said everything - from finding a doctor to filling out basic paper work - was a challenge after leaving the military.

Wilneff had joined the military in 2006, at an age of 16, which means he'd never even had to look for a doctor on his own.

"There's nobody to tell you 'This is right, this is wrong,'" Wilneff said. "You go from one way of life to another totally different way of life all by yourself." Wilneff added he spent almost two years without a disability check due to slow paperwork while getting ready for his release. There were also other administrative problems because he didn't finish his mental health treatment, after he was asked to leave due a relationship he had with a staff member at a treatment centre.

Eventually, Wilneff found himself couch surfing for a few months, until Wounded Warriors helped him with paying his rent and getting him back on his feet.

"I had no home ... jumping from couch to couch because I had nowhere else to go," Wilneff said. "I had a terrible time." Eventually, his pay stubs started coming in and Wilneff was back on his feet, although he said he's "nowhere near normal." Wilneff is now 26 years old and living in Guelph. He dedicates his time to speak in public about his experience for Wounded Warriors. He wants to go back to school eventually but he's still not fully recovered from his PTSD, he said.

On the recent estimated number on homeless veterans - about 2,250 in Canada - Wilneff said he's not surprised.

"I understand the struggle," he said. "I know how easy it is to become that (homeless)." Jim Lowther, president and founder of non-profit charity, VETS (Veterans Emergency Transition Services) Canada, said Veterans Affairs need to do more to help the members "smooth out" their transition to civilian lives.

Lowther, who himself was medically released after 15 years of service, said he understands how lonely the transition can be.

"I didn't want to get out ... I wasn't ready to get out," he said. "I didn't have anyone to help me through the process." Lowther added veteran homelessness affects both women and men, since their roles are equal within the military.

VETS Canada is looking to sit down with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, along with minister of national defence and minister of veterans affairs to talk about the plans to end veteran homeless, which is reachable within two years, Lowther contends.

"Canadians are caring, kind people .. now they're seeing there are lots of homeless veterans," he said. "We could be the first NATO country to end homelessness for veterans." According to Veterans Affairs, the department's current priorities include helping veterans who are homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless.

Veterans Affairs is currently in the hiring process, in order to re-open the nine offices that were closed down by the Conservative government, said Kate-T Murphy, a spokeswoman for the Veterans Affairs.

Murphy also said evidence of a medical disability and proof that it is work-related is needed to claim disability benefits. On the other hand, veterans and their families can access other services from Veterans Affairs regardless of whether or not they are receiving VAC disability benefits, she said.

julienne.bay@sunmedia.ca

BY THE NUMBERS:



- 2,250 former soldiers use shelters on regular basis, about 2.7 % of the total homeless population that uses temporary lodging.

- Veterans who end up homeless tend to be older than non-veterans in the same circumstances.

- Ex-soldiers are more prone to “episodic homelessness,” which means they are on-and-off on the street three or more times within a year.

- There is a particularly high rate of episodic homelessness among female veterans. 16 % of female ex-soldiers reported multiple stints without a roof over their heads, compared with just 6 % of non-veteran women.

- The average age of homeless veterans is 52, compared with 37 in the general population.

- Many ex-soldiers cite alcoholism, drug addiction and mental health issues as reasons for their circumstances.

n Soldiers who are being released on medical grounds, particularly for post-traumatic stress disorder, are among the most vulnerable.

(Source: Information released to The Canadian Press by Employment and Social Development Canada, based on March 2015 study. The study is based on a database that tracks 60 emergency shelters across the country and added veterans as an identifiable category in 2014.)

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Re: Canada's vets often 'fall through the cracks ~ FINALLY AN ARTICLE WITH REAL INSIGHT

Post by Guest on Mon 18 Jan 2016, 21:49

Excellent read , hope the MVA is reading this!

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Re: Canada's vets often 'fall through the cracks ~ FINALLY AN ARTICLE WITH REAL INSIGHT

Post by Guest on Mon 18 Jan 2016, 22:31

Someone check to see how many work at WW and where the money comes from to support it and how much is payed to staff and how much % actually goes to help vet's or all vet's get is advice. would be an interesting read i bet. if sisip va and vrab did their jobs there would be no reason for this WW.
I trust none of them especially when they have directors to many cooks in the kitchen doing the same thing and doing nothing sort of like the legion just more people getting paid off the blood sweat and suffering of vets, just my opinion.

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Re: Canada's vets often 'fall through the cracks ~ FINALLY AN ARTICLE WITH REAL INSIGHT

Post by Dannypaj on Tue 19 Jan 2016, 06:09

Now GoC is back tracking, run Bureaucrats run, the big black boots are on the ground! Mess with the spirit of Canada and the media will smear all your arses until it is fixed.  I am glad to see all these articles are coming out, it really sheds a light on the way some veterans are medically released or how they are just plain old abandoned from the CF.
Tic Toc Tic Toc.......what are they waiting for? An announcement from the MVA, an update or whatever would be nice! and not just stating that we have hired more staff & are reopening offices.
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Re: Canada's vets often 'fall through the cracks ~ FINALLY AN ARTICLE WITH REAL INSIGHT

Post by Dannypaj on Tue 19 Jan 2016, 08:11

This message from Mr. Michael Blais is pretty bang on.
definitely a good sign...tired of hoping.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/SacredObligtation/permalink/816050855183901/
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Re: Canada's vets often 'fall through the cracks ~ FINALLY AN ARTICLE WITH REAL INSIGHT

Post by Teentitan on Tue 19 Jan 2016, 10:48

Well if Mr. Hehr just finished hiring his staff last week then I would take this as an indicator that the vet file is not that much of an important issue.

Also if the Minister wants to hear from all vet orgs on what they want to see in regards to the lifelong pension I would say they have not adopted the CVA approach.

About the homeless issue; if the Minister said the party has a "national approach" to alleviate the homeless issue and that the federal gov't has to work in conjunction with the provinces then it is very safe to assume that VAC is going to treat the homeless vet issue they way they always have for the last 90 years.....they don't have a process/program/branch that takes care of homeless vets! Never have never will by the way Mr. Hehr is talking.

I'm not trying to be a negative nelly on Mr. Blais here I'm just putting reality to the situation. I may be out of the advocating game but I still talk to the people behind the scenes. Over the years I never dealt with Ministers of Veterans Affairs. I dealt with the people at VAC, OVO, staffers. They are the one's with the intel not the Minister.
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