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Three federal Canadian cabinet ministers announced in November that the government would contribute $200 million in funding to help military veterans, active members and their families deal with mental health issues.
“We understand, as a truly grateful nation, the enormous debt that we owe to all those who have stood and who today are standing on guard for us, at home and abroad, on land, at sea and in the air,” Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino said.
Fantino added that a new operational-stress injury clinic in Halifax, which is the centerpiece of the funds, will be built by the fall of next year. It is one of just eight new clinics to be opened or expanded. The new clinics will bring the number to 26 throughout Canada.
Other improvements funded by the government include plans to digitalize health records of Forces members, expanding the Road to Mental Readiness education campaign, developing a veterans-specific mental health first aid training and getting access to brain-imaging technology to improve the understanding of mental illness. Other improvements also include a pilot project that will gives Forces members access to Military Family Resource Centers for two years after their release and funding for research into mental health treatment.
“The funding is allocated, and if it’s not spent, it’s recycled back into continuing programs and services for veterans,” Fantino noted. “It’s not lost money.”
The funding pledge followed an announcement that more than $1 billion went unspent by Veteran’s Affairs over the past seven years. Fantino, who has sometimes been criticized for not contributing to the care of veterans, defended the money as an issue of government operation. Despite the negativity surrounding previous lack of funding, Fantino said the department isn’t disadvantaging veterans who need help.
Peter Stoffer, the federal NDP’s veterans affair critic, said that while the announcement might be little more than a pre-election gimmick as some are claiming, the motives of funding don’t matter to men and women who have served and simply need help.
Source: The Chronicle Herald
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