New military family centre opens on P.E.I.

Nigel Armstrong
Published on April 1, 2014

The first new Canadian Military Family Resource Centre to open in 20 years held its official opening Tuesday in Charlottetown.

"We can and must support members of our families," said Lt. Gov. Frank Lewis, special guest of the opening held at HMCS Charlottetown. "Sometimes people who need it will readily ask for help. Others need encouragement, reassurance and the security that a military family can offer.

"The Military Family Resource Centre is now here officially, with experienced, professional, and kindred spirits who shall not judge but channel care and concern," said Lewis.

Ten years ago the Moncton military family resource centre set up a satellite office in Charlottetown. That Moncton centre has now itself become a satellite office of the centre in Camp Gagetown, leaving 321 P.E.I. families without reasonable support.

Work began to convert the P.E.I. office to a full centre and that proposal was accepted. The family support program operates at arms length from the military to provide programs to families through a staff of four people.

It's earlier work as a Moncton satellite office was a great help to Cpl. (retired) Tyler Coady and his family. He was seriously injured June 1, 2007 in a roadside bomb while serving a tour of duty in Afghanistan with the P.E.I. Regiment.

Charlene McInnis was with the resource centre on P.E.I. at that time.

"When I was overseas she would send letters every week, she would call my family, she would send care packages," said Coady following the opening ceremony Tuesday. "When I came home, I found out how much more she had done for my family. There was events they went to.

"When I was injured, my mom would call up Charlene just to talk, maybe go for a coffee.

"(McInnis) also helped us navigate what I would be going through when I got home and helping with my reintegration too, making us more aware of services that were available.

"That is why I'm on the board now, to give back," said Coady.

All centres offer core programs, such as helping arriving military staff integrate into the community, said Donna Earl the new executive director of the centre.

There is also core programs for children and youth and programs to help military families with separation and reunion.

"Deployment is not necessarily being overseas," said Earl. "It can be any time they are tasked or put on an exercise, anytime they are away from home which happens a lot in the reserves.

"The final area is in prevention, support and intervention," said Earl. "We would do short term crisis intervention."