Dear Sir or Madam,
Here at the Dominion, we understand that the results of Tuesday’s American presidential election have become a contentious topic around the world. People are left with opinions, questions, and utter bewilderment. As Canadians, many of us find ourselves more thankful than ever to live in such a free, tolerant, and welcoming society. The United States election, if anything, has shown us how truly blessed we are to live in this great nation. That is why we must honour and remember the brave men and women who risk their lives to protect our country from threats of violence and hatred. As such, we will address the US presidential election next week, but today and tomorrow we will not let it overshadow the remembrance we duly owe our Canadian military.
This week we continue to remember all the courageous men and women who have served our country. We honour those who came before us, fighting endlessly and powerfully so that we can live in a free society. Further, we admire the men and women who continue to serve and protect our country. While we honour the Canadian Forces’ fight both at home and overseas, today we focus on the government branch that primarily provides support to their retirees. Today, we discuss Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) and the services they provide.
Veterans Affairs Canada is a department of the Government of Canada that provides services to veterans, former and current serving Canadian Armed Forces soldiers, and former and current RCMP officers.1 The mission of VAC is:
“To provide exemplary, client-centred services and benefits that respond to the needs of veterans, our other clients and their families, in recognition of their services to Canada; and to keep the memory of their achievements and sacrifices alive for all Canadians.”2
Services the department provide include: financial support, rehabilitation services, services to aid veterans in their transition to civilian life, mental health support, and the hiring of veterans within the Government of Canada.3 Under these service categories some of the notable programs provided include: veterans allowances, pension advocacy, health care, disability pensions, and commemoration.4
The department recognizes that numerous people generally understand a veteran to be someone who has served in the First World War, Second World War, or Korean War.5 The VAC’s definition includes these criteria, but also adds that “any former member of the Canadian Armed Forces who releases with an honourable discharge and who successfully underwent basic training” qualifies.6 The department recognizes that it is crucial all members of the Canadian Forces receive continued support after their discharge from the military.
In addition to support services, Veterans Affairs Canada is also responsible for the Canada Remembers program. The program is responsible for Remembrance Day services across the country, and aims to “keep alive” sacrifices of our great military.7 Formal services help recognize achievements of our military, as well as remind Canadians of the sacrifice these individuals have made for the rest of us. Canada Remembers is a way for the federal government to honour the service of thousands of brave men and women, and encourage all generations to remember where their freedom came from. As Veterans Affairs Canada so eloquently states, “although many of us cannot actually "remember", we owe it to those who have served to learn, to understand, and to appreciate the task they have undertaken.”8
Your humble and grateful servants,
1 “Mandate, Mission, Vision, Values and Ethics”, Veterans Affairs Canada, online: <www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/about-us/mandate>. [Mandate]
3 “Services”, Veterans Affairs Canada, online: <www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/services>.
4 Mandate, supra note 1.
7 “About Canada Remembers”, Veterans Affairs Canada, online <www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/about-canada-remembers>.