As a result of an initiative by Veterans Affairs Canada, a Legion provincial command service officer was invited to partake in an information session sponsored by VAC and the local Operational Stress Injury (OSI) office. The main thrust of this information session was to reach out to individuals suffering from operational stress, and to inform them of the services available to them. Presentations were made by representatives from VAC, the community, and Legion service officers on services and benefits available to our veterans and their dependants.
In order to conduct this information session a venue had to be secured that would enable maximum participation in a known environment. To this end, a local branch of The Royal Canadian Legion was secured through the efforts of the provincial service officer, in concert with the branch service officer and the president. An advertisement in the local papers was used to extend an invitation for the public to attend.
The session was attended by 87 interested individuals. They were provided information on the services available from the community by a local clinical psychologist, the head of the tri-county medical health services team, with a concentration on mental health issues. A representative from the Community Care Access Centre provided a briefing on a detailed list of services available to anyone who qualified and needed their services, and the local resource centre described the services available to the community at large.
Following the briefings by the community resource individuals, VAC staff provided information on the Veterans Independence Program and local area counsellors discussed nursing-home assistance programs. This was followed by an in-depth presentation on the role client service agents (CSAs) play and the services they provide to our veterans and their spouses. An overview of the New Veterans Charter was provided by an area counsellor. The provincial command service officer then provided a briefing on the disability programs and the recently introduced changes in the disability policies. This included the new hearing-loss policy and the announcement of extension of VIP service for some eligible widows.
The afternoon was completed with a briefing by the local OSI representative who provided an overview of the services and support services that the OSI teams can provide to individuals or families as the case may be.
Following the briefing there were several questions presented to the group and several individuals approached the presenter to discuss personal issues. There was a noticeable interest in the area of OSI and community mental support services, both for the civilian and the VAC/OSI representatives.
This pooling of resources was an excellent opportunity for members of the Legion along with the public to see how these organizations interact with each other with the aim of providing the best service possible to those in need. There are similar briefings of this nature planned for the future. All of these sessions will be conducted using the local Legion facilities. This is a very good model that should be followed where practicable.
Serving You is written by Legion command service officers. To reach a service officer call toll-free 1-877-534-4666, or consult a command website.