Image via Esquimalt Military Family Resource Centre on Facebook

Medically-released veterans at CFB Esquimalt will be able to access the Esquimalt Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC) as part of a four-year national pilot program.

For a two-year period post-release, medically-released Canadian Armed Forces members and their families will have the opportunity to access certain services at the centre.

The pilot is open to anyone who has medically-released as of November 30, 2014.

“Transitioning out of the military and into the civilian world can be both an exciting and challenging time for many military members and their families,” said Colleen Cahoon, the new veteran family coordinator at the Military Family Resource Centre.

“The move from military to ex-military can represent a huge cultural shift. This program aims to help with that transition.”

Esquimalt is one of seven Military Family Resource Centres in Canada to participate in the initiative.  A key component of the pilot project is the creation of a position dedicated to assisting veterans at each location.

For the past six years, Cahoon has linked military families with complex needs to the resources and services in the community. This new role will help provide similar one-on-one support to veterans and their families.

“It could mean providing assistance adapting to civilian life, help dealing with a medical issue in the civilian world or help finding the appropriate community resources for a family member,” said Cahoon about her role.

Pilot participants will be able to access information services, social work services and programs that focus on helping families through transition. The services that are available will be different for each client and will be allocated based on assessed need.

During the pilot project, community members are being encouraged to help shape the program.

“We want releasing military members and their families to give us their input,” said Cahoon, who wants to use this as an opportunity to learn more about their needs.

Input is welcome by email at mfrc@shawcable.com – Make sure to include: Veterans Family Program in the subject line. You can also call MFRC at 250-363-2640.

The MFRC will also be hosting a “Dialogue Day” in the spring at the University of Victoria. The event will bring together transitioning and transitioned military members and their families and associated agencies for a community conversation. The half-day event will provide participants with an opportunity to share their stories and offer their thoughts on transition.

Funding for the pilot is available from the Government of Canada in partnership with Veterans Affairs Canada.  The seven locations (Valcartier, Esquimalt, North Bay, Trenton, Halifax, Edmonton and Shilo) were selected to provide a balance between the different geographic regions and between the army, navy and air force.

Established in 1988, the Esquimalt Military Family Resource Centre is an independent non-profit organization that supports the unique parts of the military lifestyle. It provides assistance with joining a new community, work-related separations, and has counselling services.

The resource centre has two locations including one in Esquimalt and one in Colwood.

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