Health has been, and will remain, a predominant domain of your well-being. Health is broader than just physical health or the absence of disease, and requires more than just functioning well physically. Health can be viewed as the combination of the physical, social, mental and spiritual ability of an individual to function well. This includes the ability to adapt to new and challenging situations, and it is based on your own personal physical and mental resources, such as your ability to manage stress and solve problems. This is distinct from your external resources, such as having a job, having money, having good life skills, having good relationship, and living in a good house.
Good health is holistic and depends upon physical, social, mental, and spiritual well-being. Investing in health as a foundation enables spending time on other areas of well-being, such work, rehabilitation, or community involvement.
Chronic physical and mental health problems are common challenges to well-being among Veterans, especially when they co-occur. Veterans have a mix of health conditions both related to service and for non-service reasons, including aging.
Some Things to Consider
CFHS team can help you to prepare for your future which may include doctors, nurses, rehab specialists, physiotherapists, dentists, psychologists, social workers or recovery coordinators. Everyone will transition from the CAF at some stage so, all members are encouraged to be proactive about preparing for your transition.
Are you engaged in physical activity, choosing healthy foods with adequate nutrition, getting adequate sleep, managing stress, limiting alcohol intake and other unhealthy substance use, not smoking and regularly seeking medical advice?
Have you made arrangements for a provincial health card?
Have you confirmed continued enrollment in the Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP) and applied for the Pensioners Dental Services Plan (PDSP)?
Did you plan for continuing medical supports and have already begun arranging for a doctor, dentist and health insurance. – including transfer of related military records?
Planning the Continuation of Health Care
One of the most important issues for CAF members and their families is maintaining health care after release.
All members should consider areas of health and wellness that may benefit from additional assistance, such as smoking cessation, rehabilitation for injuries, or completion of dental treatments. All members with permanent disabilities should plan in advance before selecting a new place of residence, it is important to secure appropriate health care availability at the new location.
- In planning the continuation of health care, the family should be asking the following questions:
- Do I, or my spouse/partner or any of my children, require continuous medical care?
- What kind of medical care does my family need?
- Is the medical care we require available in the location we are considering?
- How far will we need to travel to access medical care?
All military personnel are required to attend release medical examinations to ensure CAF-related injuries or illnesses are noted in case of issues later in life. The Release Medical Assessment is also a forum for addressing and confirming continuity of medications and services for those who have qualified for a VAC disability award.
Find a Primary Care Provider
CAF members are exempt from the Canada Health Act and therefore receive health care services through a federally funded health-care system, the CFHS Group. Upon release from the CAF, members must transition to one of the ten provincial, or one of the three territorial health care systems.
It is important that individuals seek a family physician before they leave the CAF to ensure a seamless transition of primary health care. Not all physicians accept new patients, so it is important to investigate local availability as early as possible.
CAF members will require a provincial/territorial health insurance card following release from the Forces. Fortunately, the three months waiting period normally faced by new residents of each province/territory is waived for CAF members. In order to assist with a seamless transition of health care delivery, members should apply to the province/territory in which they reside at the time of release. The application should be submitted upon receipt of the release message. The health card is expected to be available within two weeks. If the member is relocating to another province or territory post-release, the original provincial/territorial health card will be honoured while awaiting processing of the new health card.
Canadian Armed Forces Medical Records
Upon release, your local Health Records section will provide each member with a package of relevant medical documents. This summary package will enable your civilian health care provider in ensuring continuity of medical care.
All personnel have the right to informally ask for a copy of their full medical records as per DAOD 1002-2.
A dental release examination is not required but can be done at the member’s request if resources permit. Members who are interested in having a release examination should contact the dental detachment as soon as they start the release process, ideally a year before the anticipated release date. It is a member’s responsibility to have an annual dental examination throughout their career and to attend follow-up dental appointments if treatment is required. There is no requirement for a member to be dentally fit on release. Outstanding dental treatment that is not linked to a service-related injury will only be completed prior to release if time and resources permit. Even if treatment is started before a member releases from the CAF, the treatment will not be completed after release.
Members whose dental condition is a result of a service-related injury should register with VAC as soon as the injury occurs even if they are not planning on releasing in the near future. This will help ensure the continuity of care for transitioning members.
Transitioning members should inquire through the release section about the PDSP. Enrolment in the PDSP is not automatic upon release. Because of the high cost of dental treatment, members are strongly encouraged to enroll in this program. Eligible members can apply for membership under the PDSP by completing a request for enrolment and sending it to the designated Pension Office within 60 days of the effective date of the pension entitlement. For additional information about the PDSP can be found at Canada.ca under “Pensioners' Dental Services Plan rules”.
Canadian Armed Forces Dental Records
It is recommended that transitioning members select a civilian dentist in their community and have an initial appointment within the first year after release. At this appointment, the dentist will perform a ‘new patient examination’. If, in discussion with the dentist, it is decided that past oral health history would be beneficial for continuity of care or for future treatment decisions, then the member can ask for a copy of their CAF dental record, either the complete record or a portion of it, depending on what the civilian dentist needs. Such requests should be made informally, either in person or by phone, to the dental detachment that serves the member’s releasing base within one year after release. All personnel have the right to informally ask for a copy of their dental records.
Review of Current Healthcare Needs – Alignment of Treatment Benefits
The Alignment of Treatment Benefits initiative seeks to enable transitioning CAF members to make informed decisions on their future healthcare needs. Transitioning members can request a review of their current treatment benefits to see what may be covered by VAC once they release. This service is offered by Medavie Blue Cross on behalf of VAC. It is available to members who are within six months of their anticipated release date and have an existing VAC Disability Benefit. The member will receive a letter based on the results of the review.
Keeping Fit and Healthy
The period around release can be busy as you prepare for your civilian life. Regardless of the challenges and uncertainties, it is important to maintain physical fitness. This can help reduce stress levels, enhance energy levels, and contribute to self-confidence.
Healthy living, adequate sleep and good nutrition will also promote resilience. If you are releasing for medical reasons and you require specialized equipment, training and events tailored to your condition, the Soldier On program may provide you resources and opportunities.
For additional information, visit the Soldier On website.
Tips for Staying Emotionally and Psychologically Healthy
- Find a friend or family member to talk to or join a support group such OSISS family peer support
- Find local community resources at MFRC
- Find a new interest that may have been put aside in the past and try incorporating it into your daily routine (reading a book, cooking or baking, exercising, arts and crafts, watching a favourite movie, etc.); and
- Seek professional help from a counsellor, therapist, religious or spiritual leader, or social worker if stress, sadness, or anxiety begins to feel out of control.
Medically Releasing Members
Introduction to Case Management
The purpose of the CAF/VAC partnership is to develop and coordinate a joint medical transition plan in consultation with the member and family, health care team, and VAC. This ensures a seamless transition from the CAF health care system to the provincial/territorial health care system. The partners in Case Management Services include:
- Canadian Armed Forces Transition Centre (CAF TC);
- Canadian Forces Health Services (CFHS);
- Canadian Armed Forces Long Term Disability (CAF LTD) and Canadian Armed Forces Vocational Rehabilitation Program (CAF VRP);
- Vocational Rehabilitation Program for Serving Members (VRPSM); and
- Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC).
Canadian Armed Forces Transition Centre (CAF TC)
There are important support mechanisms in place for CAF personnel, including the existence of a CAF unit that focuses on their needs.
The CAF TC provides personal administrative support and programs to ill and injured CAF members of the Reg F and Res F. CAF members do not have to be posted to the centre in order to receive services through a CAF TC.
CAF TC has four main components: a Services Section, a Support Platoon, a transition team, and a Partner Organizations. The strength of service delivery is achieved by all service partners working collaboratively as a team.
1. CAF TC Services Section: Core services include:
- Return to Duty coordination;
- Vocational transition assistance;
- Home and vehicle modifications;
- Information, support, and advocacy services for casualty administration, benefits, and programs; and
- Administrative support to families of those CAF members who die while in service, including the disengagement of the Designated Assistant.
2. CAF TC Support Platoon: Ill and injured CAF members may be posted to the centre based on the recommendation of the unit CO and medical authority. Those posted to the centre are under command of the nearest CAF TC Support Platoon. While some members posted to the centre may eventually be released due to their medical condition, the primary objective of the CAF TC is to provide support to the member throughout his or her recovery and enhance a return to duty in the CAF.
3. CAF TC Service Partners: Some Partner Organizations are co-located in the centre, currently serving and former CAF members, as well as their families, are provided with a one-stop service for a majority of their requirements. Key partners associated with CAF TC include:
- CAF VRP;
- Soldier On;
- CFHS; and
- Base and Wing partners (PSOs, Chaplains, etc.)
CAF TC Service Coordinators work closely with CFHS Nurse Case Managers, CAF VRP Counsellors, VAC Case Managers, and other partner agencies to ensure a comprehensive and multi-disciplinary approach.
For additional information on various benefits, programs and services offered by CAF TG and others for serving and former CAF members and their families, call or visit our local TC.
Candian Forces Health Services Nurse Case Management
CFHS Nurse Case Management is a collaborative, client-driven process that provides quality health and support services through the effective and efficient use of resources. Nurse Case Management help clients achieve safe, realistic, and reasonable goals within a complex health, social, and fiscal environment.
CFHS care providers ensure eligible ill and injured members engage in case management services early in the process, assuring coordination and continuity of care in support of Return to Duty or transition to civilian life. This is complemented by access to the appropriate benefits and administrative supports provided by all stakeholders.
CFHS Nurse Case Managers are available at all Canadian Forces Health Services Centres (CF H Svcs C) across Canada.
Vocational Rehabilitation Program for Serving Members (VPRSM)
VRPSM is a program that enables eligible CAF members who have been notified of an impending Item 3(a) or 3(b) release, with the approval of their CO, to commence participation in vocational rehabilitation training for up to six months prior tothe earlier date of either their start of retirement leave, or their final date of release from the CAF.
Reg F members who have successfully completed the requirements of Developmental Period 1 (DP 1) and P Res Force members who have completed two years of consecutive full-time service at the documented date of either their injury/illness or Administrative Review - Medical Employment Limitations (AR/MEL) decision that leads to the medical release or injured in a Special Duty Area (SDA) or Special Duty Operation (SDO) for which they are medically released are eligible to apply for VRPSM.
Members participating in this program are on duty; therefore, they remain subject to all normal administrative and disciplinary policies. Normal CoC reporting structures and responsibilities apply.
For additional information on this program, call or visit your local TC.
Canadian Armed Forces Long Term Disability (CAF LTD) Case Management and Canadian Armed Forces Vocational Rehabilitation Program (CAF VRP) Counselling
The CAF LTD plan is a CAF employee benefit available to all Reg F and P Res members. It provides income replacement post release and access to the CAF VRP pre-release and post-release.
The CAF LTD plan covers both service and non-service-related illnesses or injuries. However, P Res member on Class A or short term Class B must be injured or diagnosed while “on duty” to receive CAF LTD benefits. As part of your employee group benefits, the CAF LTD is the first payer of income replacement benefits and vocational support services.
Case management services are provided for all qualifying members. CAF VRP counsellors work in conjunction with the CAF LTD Case Manager to help members with the following:
- Plan and implement vocational goals, and
- Develop employment transition opportunities and support.
Canadian Armed Forces Long Term Disability Program – Income Support
CAF LTD income replacement benefits are an employer-sponsored group disability insurance benefit. As part of the employee’s benefit plan, CAF LTD benefits are considered the first payer and will provide income support before any other sources of support for medically released members, or those who are non-medically released and meet eligibility criteria. While CAF LTD income support claim is active, participants in the program have access to vocational rehabilitation support which includes training or preparation for a career in the civilian workforce as well as the option of returning to work assistance.
The CAF LTD program provides income support for medically released members, or those who are non-medically released and meet eligibility criteria, for an initial period up to 24 months following their date of release. CAF LTD benefit support can continue up to age 65 as long as the member continues to be deemed totally disabled:
- Reg F members receive 75% of their salary at release;
- Class C members receive 75% of their monthly pay when the injury or illness occurred;
- Long term Class B receive 75% of their calculated monthly salary in place when the injury or illness occurred; and
- Short term Class B (contract less than 180 days) and Class A receive 75% of a deemed monthly salary of $2,700/month providing the injury or illness occurred while on duty. There is an option to purchase higher coverage of either $3,700/month or $4,700/month if needed.
VAC, with their Income Replacement Benefit (IRB) (known as Earning Loss Benefit (ELB) before April 1st, 2019), will ensure qualified members receive a total income of at least 90% of their gross pre-release military salary if they are a Veteran of the CAF and enrolled in and participating in the VAC Rehabilitation Program with the condition that the member has a health problem resulting from military service making it difficult to adjust to life at home, in their community or at work.
Offsets to the CAF LTD income replacement benefits include:
- Canadian Forces Superannuation Act (CFSA);
- Canada Pension Plan Disability (CPPD) or Quebec Pension Plan Disability (QPPD) benefits (disabled contributors only);
- Employment income. While participating in an approved vocational rehabilitation program the monthly benefit will be reduced by 50% of income until the calculation reaches the original salary at release, after which the reduction is 100% of the excess;
- Automobile insurance benefits (Reservists only);
- LTD coverage provided through another employer (Reservists only);
- Workers’ Compensation Benefits (Reservists only);
- Another employer pension plan benefits (Reservists only); and
- The Government Employee Compensation Act (GECA) (Reservists only).
Canadian Armed Forces Vocational Rehabilitation (CAF VRP) Program – Support
The CAF VRP is a needs-based voluntary component of the CAF LTD benefits. It operates with the goal of assisting members to prepare for viable employment post release. When the need exists, the program will build on a member’s existing skills or, if none exist will help develop new skills to facilitate a return to the workforce while respecting the member’s medical limitations. Training will focus on the acquisition of a license, certification, and diploma or degree from a recognized educational institution.
Eligible members released from the CAF for medical reasons are offered an initial entitlement period of up to six consecutive months before their effective date of release and 24 consecutive months’ post-release. Those who are considered as totally disabled have full access to the CAF VRP for as long as they continue to qualify for CAF LTD.
The Vocational Rehabilitation Counsellor (VRC) will meet with the claimant to evaluate the education, skills, training and experience and to establish the feasibility of a CAF VRP, as well as to inform the claimant of the available supports. Working with the member the VRC will help develop a mutually agreed upon a plan that is:
- Realistic in execution and need;
- Within the cost limits of the program;
- Within the medical abilities/limitations of the member;
- Attainable in the time available through the CAF LTD;
- Has viable employment opportunities; and
- Is approved by the VRC.
The CAF VRP services will provide:
- Personal counselling;
- Coordination of medical support;
- Vocational counselling and vocational rehabilitation financial support;
- Career counselling; and
- Employment search assistance, including support for Public Service applications and the provision of targeted job leads.
Veterans Affairs Canada Case Management
Case Management Services supports Veterans with complex needs in reaching their optimal level of wellness and autonomy through a collaborative and direct process by the coordination of care, use of resources and access to programs. VAC offers Case Management services to assist members of CAF nearing release, or for former member of CAF or RCMP, and their families, whose transition to civilian life is challenged, often by a serious illness or injury resulting from their service. In addition, VAC Case Management services may also be available for survivors, or spouses of Veterans who have the Diminished Earnings Capacity designation. If eligible for Case Management Services, a VAC Case Manager will work closely with you (and your family) to assess your needs, to help you set achievable goals and to establish a plan to reach those objectives.
Throughout the case management process you will discuss many aspects of your life, identify your goals and identify any challenges you see in achieving them. Your Case Manager will regularly monitor and evaluate your progress with health professionals and other providers to ensure your goals and objectives are being met. You and your Case Manager can modify your plan at any time to reflect any changes in your situation.
Veterans Affairs Canada Rehabilitation and Vocational Assistance Program suggest consulting with Rehabilitation on this section.
For a transitioning member or a Veteran with health problems resulting primarily from service, VAC offers a Rehabilitation and Vocational Assistance Program. If approved for this program, VAC is responsible for the development of a rehabilitation plan that may include medical or psychosocial rehabilitation services required to achieve a rehabilitation goal for a Veteran.
- Medical Rehabilitation – Healthcare professionals work with you to stabilize and restore your health to the fullest extent possible.
- Psychosocial Rehabilitation – Health or rehabilitation professionals help you develop skills to support independence and adjust to living with your health problem or disability. This can include life skills training, pain management strategies, and more.
Relationship between Canadian Armed Forces Vocational Rehabilitation Program and Veterans Affairs Canada Rehabilitation and Vocational Assistance Program.
For those eligible for CAF LTD and VRP, SISIP is responsible for funding vocational rehabilitation services for the time period that the participant is eligible for this program.
The VAC Rehabilitation and Vocational Assistance Program is the only access point for medical and psycho-social rehabilitation services for addressing non-service related health problems eligible under the program, until 2024, for all Veterans, including those who medically released.
A releasing member/Veteran may be eligibility for the Veterans Affairs Canada Rehabilitation and Vocational Assistance Program under the following criteria:
Group 1: CAF members and Veterans may be eligible for the Rehabilitation Program if they have a rehabilitation need (a temporary or permanent physical or mental health problem that is creating a barrier to re-establishment in civilian life and results primarily from service in the CAF). CAF members may apply prior to release and Veterans with a rehabilitation need are not subject to any time limits to make application after release from the CAF.
Group 2: CAF members and Veterans may be eligible for the Rehabilitation Program if the physical or mental health problem for which the veteran was released did not result primarily from service and Veterans must normally apply within 120 days of release from the CAF. It is possible for VAC to extend an application time limit, if the reason(s) for the delay are reasonable.
**NOTE: Veterans eligible under this gateway will only have access to medical and psycho-social services from VAC. Eligibility is time limited and will only be in effect until April 1, 2024.
The VAC Rehabilitation Program also provides applications to PSHCP for individuals who do not already have eligibility to health care services through the CAF or VAC’sTreatmentbenefit program.
You can apply through the following ways listed below:
- If you are registered for MyVAC Account, you can submit your application online; or
- You can also download the application form, complete it, and drop it off at your nearest VAC Area Office or send it to us directly through the mail at the address below
Veterans Affairs Canada
PO Box 6000
Matane, QC G4W 0E4
Veterans Affairs Canada Guided Support
Guided Support is an approach to providing support to released members who require more support than is provided through targeted assistance but do not require Case Management services. Guided Support is not intended to replace Case Management, instead, it is part of the service VAC provides to those Veterans who need help accessing services and benefits. As such, a Veteran Service Agent will become the primary point of contact for the Veteran and will provide individualized follow-up to ensure needs are met.
Soldier On is a Personnel Support Programs (PSP) delivered program of the CAF TG and is committed to contributing to the recovery, reintegration, and rehabilitation of ill and injured CAF members and Veterans by providing opportunities and resources through sport, recreational, and creative activities. The aim of Soldier On is to directly support the recovery of the ill/injured members, specifically contributing to or providing the gateway to enhance the domains of well-being.
Soldier On is recognized for improving the quality of life and is a highly visible and integral component of the CAF commitment to the care of ill and injured members. Since 2007, Soldier On has supported thousands of members to acquire sporting or recreational equipment and to participate in group structured activities. In addition, Soldier On is the lead organization responsible for Team Canada and its participation in the Invictus Games and Warrior Games.
Soldier On Regional Coordinators are located in each of the nine CAF TU regions and deliver activities which cater to a wide range of limitations, accessibility, and skill levels. To empower an active lifestyle, Soldier On also provides equipment grants, social connection, and further engagements to contribute to recovery.
For additional information, visit the Soldier On website.
Operational Stress Injury Social Support (OSISS)
Created in 2001, Operational Stress Injury Social Support (OSISS) is partnership program between VAC and the DND which has the following vision: "To be an exemplary model of standardized peer support to CAF personnel, Veterans and their families who experienced first-hand the effects of an Operational Stress Injury (OSI).”
OSISS is an essential, non-clinical addition to the mental health services of both departments: it plays a major role in breaking down the stigma and provide social support to many CAF members, Veterans and their families while encouraging them to seek the help required to reduced distress, improved social integration towards their optimal mental wellness.
The mission of OSISS is to establish, develop, and improve social support programs for CAF members, Veterans, and their families affected by an OSI. It also provides education and training within the CAF community to create an understanding and acceptance of OSIs.
OSISS front line services are offered by Peer Support Coordinators, Family Peer Support Coordinators and Volunteers and are available at TCs across Canada. These are trained, former CAF personnel, and CAF family members who have firsthand experience with an OSI. They have the knowledge and resources to help those with OSI. They can put them in contact with staff at VAC and/or the CAF who can address concerns surrounding release, pension, or treatment. They can help to access specially designed OSI programs or other community resources. They will also listen, make suggestions, and leave the choices to the individual. Those with OSI do not have to face their recovery alone.
Peer support coordinators can be reached toll free at 1-800-883-6094 and for additional information on OSISS, visit their website.
TO DO LIST
To be able to function well physically, mentally, socially and spiritually, the following considerations are proposed as they could help you to go through a seamless transition.
7-12 Month before your date of release
- Meet with CAF Nurse Case Manager to ensure continued coordination and transfer of your care plan and benefits.
- Sign the necessary consent forms at your release.
1-6 Month before your date of release
- Connect with the Veteran Family Program - Military Family Resource Centres.
- Discuss your Continuity of Care plan with your Nurse Case Manager who will work with your medical team in order to facilitate seamless transition of care post-release.
- Prepare a list of medication/health treatment services and verify the coverage post release with VAC (Medavie Blue Cross) and/or your chosen medical care plan (i.e. Sun Life).
- Book and complete your medical examination in preparation for your release.
- Apply for VAC’s Disability Benefit, if applicable.
- Inquire about the Alignment of Treatment Benefits and how it may apply to you.
- Find Civilian Health Professionals.
- Apply for VAC Rehabilitation services.
- Ensure to obtain health and dental benefit plans for yourself and family.
- Verify your eligibility to enroll in the government health and dental benefit plans (PSHCP and PDSP); and
- Explore obtaining Private health and dental insurance, if needed.
Within 1 Month of your date of release
- Apply for a provincial health care card.
- Find courses or programs that support wellness or a healthy lifestyle.
After your date of release
- Continue the follow up with specialists or family health care provider.
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