Statement Article from  Veterans Affairs Canada

Minister Hehr provides update on first 100 days

The Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, issued the following statement:

“Today marks the 100th day since I was appointed Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence. Each and every day I am honoured and proud to serve those who wear—or who have worn—our nation’s uniform.

“The Prime Minister has given me an aggressive mandate, one that I plan to fulfill through stronger relationships with Veterans and the organizations that represent them. For me, consultation will be the cornerstone of my approach as I look to the men and women who have served to tell me how best to serve them, and their families.

“Just hours after my appointment, I addressed Veterans and guests at a candlelight tribute that connects Veterans and youth and passes the torch of remembrance to younger generations. It was a truly inspiring way to start the work ahead.

“During my first days, I participated in a number of Veterans’ Week activities, including Remembrance Day ceremonies in Ottawa. This special day was humbling and concluded a week of learning and listening. It reconfirmed my commitment to ensuring that we get Veterans the care they need, when and where they need it.

“Within the first month, I travelled across the country to engage with Veterans and Veterans’ organizations, and held my first Veterans’ Stakeholder Summit in Ottawa in December. Next, I travelled to Poland and Ukraine to meet our Canadian Armed Forces troops during the holidays and to thank them for their service on behalf of all Canadians.

“No matter where I am—small towns, rural areas or major cities—the concern and compassion Canadians have for our Veterans and their families is remarkable.

“It became clear to me that I needed to lay the building blocks for a higher standard of service that will address Veterans’ needs in the years to come.

“To that effect, a new Priorities Secretariat has been created to focus on three key issues that were quickly identified as priorities: improving the support available for homeless and at-risk Veterans; support for Veterans’ families; and support for those transitioning to civilian careers. Mr. Tim Kerr, a 28-year Veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces, is leading the Secretariat and has begun his work in earnest.

“I have learned that access to effective mental health support is an area in which we must do better. The Government of Canada recognizes how serious the issues of mental health and post-traumatic stress disorder are and, as a start, we’re implementing a number of new initiatives.

“We’re launching a new Operational Stress Injury Resource for Caregivers—an online, self-directed tool designed for caregivers and families of Canadian Armed Forces members or Veterans living with an operational stress injury.

“A new Director of Mental Health, Joel Fillion, has been hired. He will lead the development and execution of a Veterans Affairs Mental Health Strategy; the educational support and training in the area of mental health to departmental front-line staff; and the managerial oversight of the Operational Stress Injury National Network.

“We also hired a National Pharmacy Advisor, Katherine Vesterfelt, to ensure that the Department has professionals with the proper medical and professional experience in place to help get Veterans the supports they need.

“My first 100 days have been exciting and I look forward to achieving much more in the future as we make progress on the many significant items in my mandate letter. Already we have re-hired more than 175 front-line staff to provide more support to Veterans across Canada and soon, Veterans will once again be able to access services in offices closed in recent years.

“I am committed to listening, and doing more for Veterans and their families. I will build a higher standard of service and will deliver this service to the men and women who have sacrificed for our country with the care, compassion and respect that they deserve.”

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Contacts:

Media Relations
Veterans Affairs Canada
613-992-7468


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