March 29, 2017 4:33 pm
Updated: March 29, 2017 4:34 pm

Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr expands military pilot project for families

Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr at the Edmonton Garrison Wednesday, March 29, 2017.

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A pilot project that the Edmonton Garrison took part in is now being expanded across the rest of the country. The Veteran Family Program will offer better care to members after they leave service.

Details were shared with staff at CFB Edmonton on Wednesday. The expansion is part of the $620-million Veterans Affairs budget that was released last week.

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“We got rid of tons of red tape,” Minister Kent Hehr said. “[We] gave opportunities for our people to go to university. Let’s face it, we have many people after six years in service, they want to think about other careers. Now they have $40,000. After 12 years they have $80,000 to go back to school.”

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Denise Kantor, with Edmonton’s Military Family Resource Centre, said there are a lot of aspects the government has thought of, in dealing with not just the member, but the entire family.

“Families are the strength behind the uniform.

“The educational component, the mental health component, understanding that more needs to be done to really look after the veterans as they release from the military,” Kantor said. “So I was really happy to see the package that’s being presented.”

Hehr said work will continue for what will be a “pension for life” for the members, although there are plenty of details that are still to be ironed out.

“We want to ensure financial security, as well as ensure people have an ability to succeed going forward,” Hehr said. “That’s through education, through career transition, through better supports. So we want to have the veteran community understand our suite of programs that are there to support them and the family in having better outcomes.”

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The changes in post-military life were tried out at seven MFRCs across Canada, including the Edmonton Garrison, in a pilot project. Kantor said they’ll now spread to all 32, which will help as families move across the country.

“A lot of our members, when they release, they don’t stay in that area where they release so they may want to go back to their home province,” Hehr said.

“Knowing that the veteran family program will be available to release members and their families, wherever there’s an MFRC, brings us great satisfaction because we know our families and the members are going to be taken care of.”

The program will provide support to veterans and their families for two years after their release.

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