Message from the Ombudsman (September 4, 2014)

Transition to Civilian Life

For many ill and injured Canadian Armed Forces personnel, the most difficult period is the transition from uniformed military member to life as a civilian.

In many cases, the individual has spent their entire adult life as a member of the Canadian military. It’s all they know. It's all many of their families know.

In 2012 the Auditor General confirmed in a report that not only do Canadian Forces members and Veterans find the transition process complex, lengthy and challenging to navigate but so too do departmental staff from National Defence and Veterans Affairs.

It’s a process which must be simplified and made less stressful for the ill and injured Canadian Armed Forces member.

With my current role as National Defence Ombudsman and previous role as deputy Veterans Ombudsman, I've been able to see the transition issue from both perspectives. It's clear that only a holistic fix that cuts through departmental stovepipes and processes will get us closer to where we need to be.

The Parliamentary Veterans Affairs Committee and Senate Sub committee on Veterans have both tabled a series of recommendations aimed at improving the care of ill injured CF members and Veterans. A key component of the recommendations looks at transition.

My office and that of the Veterans Ombudsman, started working together earlier this year to look at ways to jointly tackle this important issue. To that end, we contacted our respective Ministers in June to advise them that we were going to launch a joint systemic investigation to identify recommended improvements, red tape reduction and common sense fixes to the transition process.

Transition is a complex topic. We are mid-way through the first phase of our joint review which will focus on the period where a CAF member receives a medical release message to the point where they enter the care of Veterans Affairs Canada as an injured or ill Veteran.We will publicly release our findings and recommendations on this in the near future. Additionally, we will tackle the remaining areas of concern one at a time over the course of the next 15 to 18 months. 

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