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New P.E.I. program meets unique needs of veterans and family, says deputy minister

Veterans Affairs Deputy Minister Walt Natynczk, right, chats with Summerside veteran George Dalton, a strong advocate for the care and recognition of veterans, before speaking in Charlottetown Thursday during the official launch of the local branch of the Veteran Family Program.
Veterans Affairs Deputy Minister Walt Natynczk, right, chats with Summerside veteran George Dalton, a strong advocate for the care and recognition of veterans, before speaking in Charlottetown Thursday during the official launch of the local branch of the Veteran Family Program. - Jim Day

Veterans Affairs Deputy Minister Walter Natynczk says not only veterans, but their families as well, need support catered to their specific needs to help make a successful transition from military to civilian life.

“The reality is that each family’s needs are really unique,’’ said Natynczk while speaking in Charlottetown on Thursday. “There are veterans out there that are hunkered down in a basement somewhere, there are veterans that are in isolation somewhere, there are families who are struggling… and we all have a role, we all have a duty…to reach out to them and help them out.’’

Natynczk, a retired general who served as Canada’s chief of defence staff from 2008 to 2012, was in Charlottetown to take part in the P.E.I. Family Resource Centre’s official launch of the local branch of the Veteran Family Program.

Launched nationally last spring, the program is designed to help families effectively prepare for and transition into civilian life after military service.

The program includes transitional programs, information, intervention, support and referral services available to veterans and families to help them adjust to their new normal as civilians/veterans.

Sue Pollard, veteran family program coordinator for P.E.I., said the program will bring together a variety of agencies and resources that support the veteran community in the province.

“The goal is to inform all members, veterans, and their families of the resources and services available during and after their release process from the Canadian Armed Forces,’’ she said.

Natynczk says all of the assistance must be tailored to individual needs, rather than a one-size-fits all approach.

“And we know that if we take care of their financial security, we make sure that the medical care is there, and they have a roof over their head, if they can maintain their identity, but also if they have family support,’’ he says, “Then they will have the ingredients to transition successfully into civilian life again.’’

The P.E.I. Military Family Resource Centre delivers programs with funds from Military Family Services and through local fundraising efforts.

“MRFCs are committed to enriching the lives of individuals and families in Canadian Armed Forces communities through positive action, education and support,’’ the local centre said in a statement.

“MFRCs provide relevant programs and services that empower and encourage strong, independent individuals and families within the Canadian Forces.’’

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