For many of Canada’s veterans, the transition into civilian life can be difficult.
Edmonton’s veterans are getting help connecting to mental and physical health supports in the area. The Edmonton Veterans Service Centre was launched in December 2018, and offers veterans affordable transition housing and assistance in the search for jobs.
“If somebody comes in and they are in immediate need for food services then we can provide them with food cards, grocery cards,” Debbie Lowther, chair and co-founder of Vets Canada, said.
“If they are in need of getting to a medical appointment, we have bus tickets here on site. We can provide services like emergency housing.
“If somebody comes in today, we can have them housed tonight,” Lowther said.
Retired Maj. David Blackburn is an injured veteran who served as an armored officer until 2011.
He says the issue for members leaving the military is the loss of identity.
“They are a highly skilled demographic but they don’t recognize what that skill set has to offer.”
Blackburn transitioned from an armored officer into four different jobs: health care contractor, environmental consultant, heavy equipment operator for landfills and now consults with veterans to find their next career.
“When you leave the military — whether you’re leaving from an injury or an illness or you’re leaving because you’re at the end of a contract — you’re losing that identity that you’ve had,” Blackburn said.
Since 2016, Calgary based non-profit Prospect Human Services has connected almost 1,200 transitioning military members, veterans and their families to find work through their employer network.
The range of partnerships between the service centre and Prospects is just one of the many agencies aimed at connecting transitioning military members to veteran-serving organizations.
Debbie Lowther, chair and co-founder of Vets Canada says the centre is the first of its kind in Canada.
“To be able to offer them all of the support that they need in one location is amazing.”
Other partner organizations include the Royal Canadian Legion, Alberta NWT Command and Forces@WORK.
The Edmonton Veterans Service Centre is located at 12325 97 Street.
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