Editor: I would like to respond to a pair of recent articles you have published, including one from Senator Catherine Callbeck, that question both the Government of Canada’s long-standing practice to honour Veterans during Veterans’ Week and our Department’s recent decision to close some of its smaller district offices. (Office closures mean loss of vital services, Nov. 18, 2013.)
The dual mandate of Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) is to provide care and support to Veterans, Canadian Armed Forces members and their families in recognition of their service, and to ensure their achievements and sacrifice are honoured and remembered through commemorative activities. We are proudly committed to doing both.
In particular, I want to reassure your readers that we will continue to maintain and enhance our services to Veterans and their families. That includes opening an Access Centre at our headquarters here in Charlottetown and backing it with the full resources of our staff working there.
It is true, however, that we are adjusting our national presence to reflect where Veterans are choosing to live, which means that some of our offices across the country are expanding while offices in some other areas are either becoming smaller or closing.
As an example of our changing footprint, we have worked with the department of National Defence over the past five years to open new Integrated Personnel Support Centres on 24 Canadian Armed Forces bases and wings. The result is that more than 100 VAC employees are now working alongside their counterparts at National Defence to provide “one-stop” care and support to Veterans and still-serving members. This represents better and faster service.
It is this kind of innovation that allows me to say with confidence that veterans and their families will continue to receive the care and support they need, regardless of where they live.
Assistant Deputy Minister,
Veterans Affairs Canada