Supporting Canadian Veterans with Disabilities
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Abstract The provision of benefits and services to veterans to ensure they receive the health care and compensation they need to lead a good quality of life after military service has always been a challenge for governments around the world. In Canada, over 4,000 Canadian Forces members are released each year, and many leave with physical inju - ries as well as operational stress injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder. There has been a push in the past two decades to modernize veterans’ programs to ensure that veterans receive adequate physical rehabilitation, mental health care, and vocational retraining to reinte - grate smoothly into Canadian society. In 2006, Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) made broad, sweeping changes to the way veterans receive services and benefits by introduc - ing the New Veterans Charter (NVC). The Pension Act, which was the 50-year-old policy that previously determined veterans’ services and benefits, mostly provided veterans with life-long pensions based on disability. The NVC provides a range of financial programs and services for veterans released after April 2006. Within the past five years, a number of reports have examined the effectiveness of the NVC, highlighting gaps and providing recommen - dations. As of the time of publication of this report, few changes have been made. Therefore, this report does not aim to provide recommen - dations specific to the improvement of the NVC. Instead, it compares the financial benefits offered under the NVC to those offered under the Pension Act. This comparison specifically looks at how financial benefits offered under the two policies differ for veterans with the most severe disabilities. Financial benefits are important for veterans with severe disabilities because they are more likely to have difficulty finding work, and they face higher health-care costs than veterans with less severe or no disabilities. The report is organized as follows. Chapter 1 provides background information on the NVC, the Pension Act, and the history of veterans’ benefits in Canada. It also summarizes reports written thus far on the success of the NVC and defines the term “veteran with severe disabili - ties.” Chapter 2 describes the method of comparison of the financial benefits from the two policies used for the study, and Chapter 3 sum - marizes the results of the comparison. Chapter 4 discusses the results and also highlights some of the limitations of the study and areas of future work. Finally, Chapter 5 provides some recommendations for consideration regarding the NVC.