I was pleased to welcome Department of Veterans’ Affairs Ombudsman Guy Parent to an evening Town Hall at Garrison Petawawa.

All Veterans, military, RCMP and their families were invited.

The next morning a special stakeholders, meeting took place as an open forum to share concerns.

Of the many concerns raised at the Town Hall as well as the stakeholders’ meeting, was the unnecessarily complex and difficult process military members must navigate in order to receive all the benefits qualify to receive.

For a process that is supposed to be seamless and user-friendly, it is neither.

The good news is, for the majority of Canadian Forces members transitioning to civilian life, the change is relatively smooth.

Where there is a need for improvement, is the need to improve service for those individuals, who are released due to illness or injury.

About 5,500 members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) transition to civilian life each year.

Some leave and pursue other career opportunities.

Many retire after years of service.

There are also those who are released as they no longer meet the universality of service principle due to injuries which may or may not be attributable to service. Of that 5,500, approximately 1,500 members are released each year for illness or injury, of which about 600 are directly related to military service.

As a Member of the Standing Committee on National Defence, I have been advocating that the Canadian Armed Forces retain medically releasing members until such time as all benefits and services from the CAF, Veterans Affairs Canada, and the Service Income Security Insurance Plan, (SISIP) have been confirmed are in place, and before the members are released.

The mandate letter from the Prime Minister to the Minister of National Defence promised a seamless transition for CAF members to the programs and services of Veterans Affairs Canada.

I am holding the government to that promise.

I look forward to the appropriate announcement in the next federal budget.

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