The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 110 in Trenton, Ontario happily received a five-year grant from the Veteran and Family Well-being Fund for its Veterans’ Wives Support Group.
The group provides support and coaching to female Veterans, wives of Veterans and women caring for Veterans. Securing funding was a major goal for Branch 110—especially for office manager and grant-writer Debbie Holmes, who spends a great deal of time ensuring the branch’s programs for Veterans come to fruition.
“We are always listening to what our Legion members, our Veterans and our community needs,” says Holmes.
“Here at our branch, we have many wives of Veterans who volunteer in various positions in the Legion. While working with them, I’ve heard them convey the stories of how they have had to live without their husbands, raising children alone, and all the other pressures of being a military wife."
She said she also hears of the challenges women face while caring for an ageing Veteran and spouses who have both served, which comes with special challenges from that lifestyle.
Spending time with these women gave Holmes the idea for the Veterans' Wives Support Group.
The Legion branch trialed the support group a few years ago, with the assistance of a one-year grant from the Bell True Patriot Love Fund. The project was an enormous success, and since then, Holmes has been searching for funding for it to continue.
Finally, a grant from the Veteran Family Well-Being Fund was secured—The program will begin in the spring and will continue for the next five years.
The Veterans' Wives Support Group is run by registered psychotherapist Denise MacDonald. The group meets twice a month and works on therapeutic support for their unique challenges, such as caring for an ageing Veteran. The group holds a safe space for these women to share and support one another.
“The psychotherapist we hired for this program works with many people, including Veterans with PTSD, and has a farm that offers equine therapy. She is simply amazing,” says Holmes. “I can’t wait for the program to begin again. These women are the unsung heroes of the military and deserve all the support we can give them.”
To find out how to start a similar program at your Legion branch, you can contact Debbie Holmes at firstname.lastname@example.org.