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Veterans Mental Health Programs

Executive Summary

There are two main programs for Veterans with operational stress injuries requiring mental health support:

Disability Benefits Program—This program provides disability benefits to eligible veterans—including Canadian Armed Forces personnel—with a chronic service-related health condition, including a mental health condition.

To be eligible for benefits, veterans must have an operational stress injury (OSI) related to military service. OSI is a broadly descriptive category rather than a diagnostic term. It results from operational duties performed while serving in the Canadian Armed Forces and refers to any persistent psychological difficulty that result in impaired functioning. Included are diagnosed medical conditions such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety or panic attacks, as well as less severe conditions.

Rehabilitation Services and Vocational Assistance Program—This program helps veterans re-establish themselves in civilian life after release from the military.

 

 

Disability Benefits Program—This program provides disability benefits to eligible veterans—including Canadian Armed Forces personnel—with a chronic service-related health condition, including a mental health condition.

To be eligible for benefits, veterans must have an operational stress injury (OSI) related to military service. OSI is a broadly descriptive category rather than a diagnostic term. It refers to any persistent psychological difficulty resulting from operational duties performed while serving in the Canadian Armed Forces. It is used by National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces and by Veterans Affairs Canada for a broad range of problems that result in impaired functioning. Included are diagnosed medical conditions such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety or panic attacks, as well as less severe conditions.

Rehabilitation Services and Vocational Assistance Program—This program helps veterans re-establish themselves in civilian life after release from the military.

Intended to provide transitional support, not permanent support, the program aims to ensure that veterans improve their health to the fullest extent possible and adjust to life at home, in the community, and at work. Veterans may apply at any time provided they can demonstrate that they have a health problem that is arising primarily from military service and is creating a barrier to re-establishment in civilian life. Veterans qualify if they have served in the Canadian Armed Forces and have been medically released within the last 120 days.

The Rehabilitation Services and Vocational Assistance Program includes one or more of the following types of services:

  • Medical rehabilitation. Health care experts work with veterans to stabilize and restore health to the fullest extent possible.
  • Psychosocial rehabilitation. Health or rehabilitation professionals help veterans develop skills to support independence and adjust to living with their health problem or disability. This support can include life skills training and pain management strategies.
  • Vocational rehabilitation. Vocational professionals assist veterans with applying skills and education gained in the military to build a rewarding civilian career.

 

Other programs and services facilitate access to services that support veterans with mental health conditions. These programs and services include the following:

  • Operational stress injury (OSI) clinics. Veterans Affairs Canada funds nine outpatient clinics and one inpatient clinic that provide assessment, counselling, and treatment services to eligible veterans and Canadian Armed Forces members. These clinics are staffed with psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, mental health nurses, and other specialized clinicians. Veterans can be referred for assessments without being eligible for other Veterans Affairs Canada programs. Treatment services become available to veterans and to serving military members once Veterans Affairs Canada confirms their eligibility. In addition, seven Operational and Trauma Stress Support Centres, which are operated by National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces (National Defence), support both eligible veterans and serving military members.
  • Case management services. Using case plans, Veterans Affairs Canada case managers help veterans receive a variety of supports, including mental health services. Case managers are members of interdisciplinary teams and have access to doctors, nurses, mental health specialists, and provincial and local programs and service providers. Case managers’ responsibilities for mental health include assessing veterans’ needs, developing case plans, coordinating referrals to mental health care providers, and monitoring progress. These services are primarily available to veterans after eligibility is confirmed.
  • Veterans Affairs Canada Assistance Service. Health Canada delivers this 24/7 telephone service for all veterans and their families to enable them to reach a mental health professional at any time. The service is also available to primary caregivers who have personal concerns that affect their well-being.
  • Operational Stress Injury Social Support Program. This program is funded jointly by Veterans Affairs Canada and National Defence. Peer support is available to veterans and their families through trained peer support coordinators and volunteers who have also dealt with operational stress injuries.

 

REhabilitation Program and Disability Program Application processes