Canadian veterans are people who have served in the CAF (Canadian Armed Forces) or the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police). They are national heroes who make all kinds of sacrifices for Canada. They dedicate their lives, energy and time to the safety and security of Canadians.
However, veterans in Canada do not serve forever. After a certain period of service, they have to retire or leave their duties. They have to take off their precious uniforms and become a civilian citizen.
The transition of veterans from military or police duty to civilian roles has challenges. Veterans need to be prepared for this big change in their lives and external support may be very helpful during this shift.
Veterans serve Canadian people. Canadians have the responsibility to assist veterans after their retirement or leave. This is both a government and social duty for all citizens.
Government organizations such as Veteran Affairs Canada (VAC) and many veteran nonprofit organizations offer veteran welfare and support services for Canadian Veterans. There are also several companies that hire veterans.
The national media channel CBC addresses homelessness, exposure to chemicals, post-traumatic stress disorder and mental health as the four main challenges of Canadian Veterans. This is sad and unacceptable. It is also evitable by simple measures.
We propose 4R as the framework of the solution set to make life easier for veterans. As illustrated in the figure the 4R stands for Respect, Rehabilitation, Resources, Reinforcement
Recognition: They deserve our recognition and respect. We have to show them they are not been forgotten even after they take off their uniforms.
Rehabilitation: Receiving support during the transition is necessary. We can not and shall not expect Canadian veterans to switch from a military or police role to civilian life without a glitch.
Resources: They will need resources to start and build their new civilian life. This includes financial resources, transition tools, official services, and most importantly community support.
Reinforcement: They have the potential, capacity, and passion to continue to add value to their communities even after their retirement or leave. They just need our support.
Veterans are valuable members of Canadian communities. They may be invisible, but they are not vain. They can play key roles in society as they did when they are on active duty.