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Romanado visits Greenwood Military Family Resource Centre

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Romanado visits Greenwood Military Family Resource Centre

Post by Guest on Tue 18 Jul 2017, 13:52

Romanado visits Greenwood Military Family Resource Centre

Published July 18, 2017 - 11:11am

From left: Colin Fraser, MP West Nova; Margaret Reid, executive director, Greenwood MFRC; Sherry Romanado, parliamentary secretary to the minister of veterans affairs and associate minister of national defence; Col. Thauberger, CD, Cmdr. 14 Wing; chief warrant officer Emond, MSM, CD, 14 Wing chief warrant officer.

It’s been more than a year since Lionel Desmond shot his wife, mother and daughter before turning a gun on himself.

Other cries for help from today’s veterans may not be as extreme or get as much public attention, but those who are not transitioning well are being paid attention to, say senior Veterans Affairs Canada staff.

Sherry Romanado, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of veterans affairs and associate minister of national defence, said they can’t speak about specific cases and how they impact the work of their department, “but we’re listening,” she told the Valley Harvester.

Romanado made a stop in Greenwood to meet with Canadian Armed Forces members and their families at the Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC) on July 5.

“We want to make sure they know what is being put in the budget and in the defense policy review,” she said. “But I’m here to hear what are the needs on the ground, so it’s just not me talking, but me also listening.”

The visit is one of nine visits she’s made to MFRCs this year to provide information on how the federal Liberal government’s 2017 budget aims to assist Canada’s veterans and their families — details that were initially released in March and take effect April 2018.

“Listening gives us valuable input so that we can make sure that the programs and services we are providing are directly linked to the needs and want of our veterans and their families,” she said.

The Veteran Family Program will be expanded across all 32 MFRCs across Canada, a new caregiver benefit of $1,000 and an $80,000 Education and Training allowance will be available for college, university or technical education.

“We know (mental health) that is an issue that’s not just strictly military or veterans but a Canada-wide issue and we need to start talking about it to remove that and that those serving, or have served, are coming forward when they need assistance and not being afraid to do so,” she said. Romanado said that approximately 5,100 people leave the Canadian Armed Forces every year. About 77 per cent transition well. “The 23 per cent that doesn’t transition well is a focus now,” she said. The difference is usually between those who leave voluntarily versus someone who took ill or injured and was relieved medically.

“The uniform is their identity and the loss of the identity and the military family can be tough on top of dealing with illness or injury,” she said.

The department’s minister is also now the associate minister of defence to ensure both departments are working “in lock step” to support that transition, she said.

There is also a new transition group for those leaving the military, regardless of circumstances.

“Members will not be released until pension or any benefits or services they are entitled to are lined up,” said Romanado.

When veterans become part of civilian life, they also become part of the provincial health system, so they are engaging also with departments of health as well.

Romanado said some of the concerns local families expressed to her were finding local jobs and adequate health practitioners, especially specialists.

To address veterans in more rural areas, the department holds mobile VAC clinics, and MRFCs are also leveraging technology for outreach by phone, email and social media.

“With such a varied population with veterans aging from 18 to 100, trying to provide customized solutions for all of them can be a challenge,” said Romanado. “There is no cookie-cutter approach. It really is a case by case basis.”

She said by listening, staff gain a better understanding of what some of the barriers were to the benefits so they could be removed, such as the one-year mandatory application period.

“I can understand why people are cynical,” she said. “The old caregiver benefit we knew was not sufficient. It was not being paid to the caregiver, it was tax-deductible and it was not enough,” said Romanado.

“We can’t replace someone’s salary, however, we think it’s important to recognize the sacrifices that caregivers make so that’s why it’s being paid directly to caregiver rather than through the veteran,” she said.

“And that was directly because of what we heard from people and it’s important to listen and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Greenwood MFRC’s executive director, Margaret Reid, was unavailable for comment by deadline.


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