Life Skills

This domain focuses on the skills, knowledge and abilities required for “managing life”. This can include personal health practices, healthy lifestyle choices, risk-taking behaviour, financial management, household management, job seeking, career management, as well as coping with stress and adapting to change.

Releasing from the military to post-military life is a major transition in life. During service, many aspects of life are taken care of for serving members. This includes the following:

  • Employment;
  • Income;
  • Housing; and
  • Health care.

After transition to civilian life, members are challenged with finding new avenues for meeting these needs in a new environment. Preparedness is required for members to navigate an intense shift in personal identity as well as all other changes and challenges throughout life.

Coping skills are also important in supporting healthy lifestyles. Effective coping skills refer to those actions by which individuals can prevent diseases, cope with challenges, develop self-reliance, solve problems and make choices that enhance health.

Some coping skills that a member acquired during service can serve you well during the transition: resilience training for dealing with stress, organized and disciplined management of personal clothing and equipment, establishing daily routine, and executing plans to solve problems.

Every member is unique, but what every member share is the experience that comes from the journey to life after service. It is important that each member has access to support and service that help to adapt, expertise and well manage post-service life. The most important aspect of this domain of well-being is to be able to adapt, manage and cope within civilian life.

Some things to consider

  • Have you any problem taking care of chores at home (housework, exterior maintenance, shopping, cooking, and cleaning)?
  • Do you have friends and family who can help you make decisions and deal with problems during your transition from the military to civilian life?
  • Do you have the personal health practices, coping skills and support that you could need to address any physical, mental or emotional health challenges?
  • Did you develop techniques to increase my resilience and ability to cope with stressful situations?

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Release Administration

Transitioning from the CAF is a big deal for everyone regardless of how long they have served or regardless of whether the decision is voluntary or compulsory.For most CAF members it will be a very significant transition with life changing consequences. Notwithstanding, it does not need to be scary or stressful - everyone can achieve a successful transition to post military life by becoming informed about their options, entitlements and developing a personalized Transition Plan. Medically releasing members may have a more complicated plan, spread out over a couple of years, but they will have additional assistance in developing their personalized Integrated Transition Plan (ITP). The Initial Transition Process/CO’s Checklist (Appendix 1 to Annex A) is an excellent start point for your planning and you will note that Step 9 is Release/CT Administration and Out-Clearance.

The release administration part of your transition process will include a minimum of three engagements with a Release Administrator.At these sessions you will go through the necessary actions to terminate your employment in the CAF. However, it will also include reminders of the concurrent activity that needs to happen as you proceed through the transition process. This will include things such as out-clearances from your Unit/Base/Wing, medical appointments, and applying for benefits and services that will provide essential support to you and your family in your post military life. Certain benefits such as your pension, severance pay, and payment in lieu of retirement leave cannot be paid until after your release date but by being proactive we can ensure that the paperwork is done so that the payment can be made without delay.

Your professional and experienced Release Administrator will guide you through the release administration and is available to answer questions. However, there are many activities that you need to attend to personally in preparation for this significant transition pathway. Please review the Member’s Transition Task List (see Annex C) for important elements to be included in your personal Transition Plan.

Release, from the CAF, is either compulsory or voluntary:

  • Compulsory
    • Can result from a basic training or performance failure, non-compliance with the Universality of Service (U of S)(medical), disciplinary and/or administrative issues;
    • Initiated when the Release Authority (see Queen’s Regulations & Orders (QR&O) Chapter 15), on behalf of the CAF, issues a message specifying the Release Item and Release Date for a member; and
    • The member’s CoC will initiated the Notification of Intent (NOI) protocol and assist the member with their transition planning.
  • Voluntary
    • Initiated by the member, as a request to the CoC (Voluntary Release Application, Memorandum to CoC or both), and constrained by the member’s individual TOS/service obligations; and
    • Those initiating the Release Process by submitting a request include members approaching the end of their current TOS or Compulsory Retirement Age (CRA).

As mentioned previously, Step 9 of the Initial Transition Process, is now standardized across the CAF to ensure that members receive a similar experience regardless of component or place of employment. The renewed CAF Release Process has been implemented across the CAF including the use of the CAFRA work flow management tool that greatly improves efficiency in service delivery. To ensure a seamless transition related to the release administration, you will be required the follow the subsequent phases.

Phase 1 – Release Request/Notification

  • For a Voluntary Release, the Release Administrator supports your CoC by reviewing your TOS and service obligations, then recommends a release date and a release item to the Release Authority for their approval.
  • You will be contacted to schedule your release consultations, confirm your understanding and agreement with the release item, release date, and your intention with respect to retirement leave.
  • For a Compulsory Release, the release consultations will be scheduled once the NOI process is complete. The Release Administrator will assist your Service Coordinator in the preparation and tracking of benefit applications specific to your personal circumstances.

Phase 2 – Pension Benefit Package

  • Whether you are releasing compulsory or voluntary, you should obtain a copy of your pension benefit estimate which you will need to bring to the initial interview with the Release Administrator. Contact the Government of Canada Pension Centre - be prepared to provide your release date and release item.
  • At your initial interview, the Release Administrator will review your pension benefit estimate with you to ensure the specifics are correct and then suggest that you contact the Pension Centre again and request your Pension Benefit Package. This package is not personalized, so a member must become familiar with which forms apply to their particular circumstance.Never fear, the Pension Centre has experts to provide advice and guidance and they are just a phone call away.They understand that this is probably your first time applying for a pension benefit - they have helped hundreds of clients through the process and welcome your questions.
  • Complete the required forms from the Pension Benefit Package. Send them by mail to the address on the form; after about a week, call the Pension Centre to confirm receipt and confirm that the forms have been completed to their satisfaction.

Phase 3 - Release Interviews.

The release interviews are composed of three sessions:

  • The Initial interview usually a month before your date of release, where you will need to bring the pension benefit estimate for a review by the Release Administrator and you will receive a list of actions to be completed, confirm information in your electronic record, share intentions and make decisions.
  • The Progress Interview conducted by telephone where the Release Administrator will verify if you are experiencing any challenges during your transition, recap your out-clearance progress and confirm if the Pension Centre has received your Pension Benefit Package.
  • The Final Interview on your date of release where outstanding documentation will be completed, CAF Identification Card (CAF ID), credit cards and building and/or base passes will be collected, and your Veteran Service Card (NDI 75) will be issued, if entitled.

Details related to actions taken by the Release Administrators and yourself before, during and after each interview are available in the Release Administrator checklist in Annex D. For some members, face-to-face consultations with a Release Administrator will not be convenient, but the consultation checklist will be exactly the same, even though the engagement may occur virtually.

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Canadian Armed Forces Release Administration (CAFRA)

Although transparent to you, release administrators across the CAF are now using an improved Canadian Armed Forces Release Administration (CAFRA) work-flow management tool to facilitate release/transition administration for Reg F members.This tool enables the in-near-real-time exchange of information/concurrent activity, tracking of file progress, and intervention by the Technical Authority when required to address challenges in a timely manner.

The use of the CAFRA work-flow management tool will also ensure a standardized administration process for all members wherever they are located.

Of special note, the Veteran Service Card (NDI 75) request process has been incorporated into the CAFRA tool digitalization to facilitate the issuance of the card at the member’s final consultation with their release administrator.

In the near future, we will be introducing digitalized Voluntary Release and CT applications that will be hosted at an Internet Portal for improved accessibility. Your CoC will be able to access the CAFRA tool to review your application and provide approval through e-endorsement. Additionally, your CoC will also be able to access to the URI protocol (i.e., the URI-Structured (URI-S) protocol, DND 4835) in CAFRA that will be administered to you before transition out or during your career, starting with the Reg F followed by the Res F.

Similarly, extension of Transition Centre based release/transition services to Res F members is anticipated in the near future which should relieve Res F Units of the release expertise burden and greatly assist in the timeliness and efficiency of their end-of-career administration.

Also, Assistant Deputy Minister (Information Management) (ADM (IM))/Director Human Resource Information Management (DHRIM) has introduced a web service between DND and VAC to provide timely notification of CAF releases/CTs once the information has been uploaded to GUARDIAN from the CAFRA work-flow management tool.This will ensure that VAC has a record of every veteran and are better prepared to provide services when required.

All these initiatives are designed to move transition administration away from paper and into an electronic environment and are being thoroughly tested at the Transition Trial at CFB Borden.When we feel we are ready to introduce changes across the enterprise we will advise members and the CoC well in advance to ensure that all are ready to embrace the personalized, professionalized and standardized improvements intended to ensure that your benefits will be in-place before you transition to post-military life and that your transition experience is as seamless as possible.

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OUTCAN/Isolated Post Transition Planning

Members’ employed outside of Canada (OUTCAN) or at Isolated Posts will transition out of the CAF just like their peers employed in Canada with Release Items that will either be voluntary or compulsory. Additionally, a CT from the Reg F to the Res F is treated very similarly to a release because the CT (ceasing to serve in one component and transferring to another) may require payment of benefits in accordance with the Treasury Board’s regulations.

Notwithstanding, members posted OUTCAN or at Isolated Posts are entitled to a move for release purposes to a location where they will transition out of the CAF or CT.

For the purposes of this guide, we will focus on voluntary releases since a compulsory release for an OUTCAN or Isolated Post member, would be a very rare circumstance, and administration for a CT is similar to a release.

For a voluntary release, members will require a Release Date and Release Item endorsed by an appropriate Release Authority to initiate release administration and should therefore apply for voluntary release accordingly. The release administration to terminate a member’s employment in the CAF which is generally also applicable to OUTCAN or Isolated Post members. Planning and execution of the transition may be more complicated due to the fact of not having immediate, face-to-face access to the same level of services and advice available to members at Bases and Wings in Canada.Therefore, planning and preparation needs to start early and can significantly mitigate the challenges and reduce the stress that goes along with a major lifestyle change.

Once the member has made an informed decision to release from the CAF or CT, the next decision a member will need to make is when to release/CT.If the member is awaiting an offer of new employment, it is quite understandable that they would wait until the last moment to submit their request for release.However, preparation and planning should be made in advance.

For example, if the member is approaching the CRA and their service qualifies, there are options concerning when to take advantage of the IPR benefit – before or after the release date.Similarly if the member is considering releasing OUTCAN, a request to the CDS should be initiated through the CoC as soon as it is feasible.

A Seamless Transition

When the member is OUTCAN or at an Isolated Post, there are some additional process steps to consider that may complicate decision-making.The period of transition will be stressful without adding the additional pressure of an unrealistic timeframe in which to execute transition.Completing the release administration necessary to terminate a member’s employment in the CAF can easily be completed in 30 calendar days; however, creating the conditions for a seamless transition to post-military life may take a little longer.

Therefore, there is a need to be aware that the 30 calendar days immediately preceding a member’s date of release/last day in uniform will be protected time for the completion of tasks directly associated with transition. Members are still required to report to their parent unit during this time, and the member’s CoC continues to exercise authority over the member, but the unit must ensure the member’s focus during this 30-day period is solely related to their transition, not on tasks normally associated with regular unit operations and training.These days of preparation do not have to be taken consecutively, therefore, it is recommended that OUTCAN/Isolated Post members start their preparations in advance of when they submit their request for release.

Making a decision about the right time to release from the CAF should also be informed by a review of a pension benefit estimate and an understanding of end-of-career entitlements based on an individual’s service and/or earning. Members can contact the Government of Canada Pension Centre  or to get an estimate using the secure access to CAF Pension Applications with your Smart Card or Token.

Place of Release

The next decision would be where to release:

QR&O 15.04 – Place of Release.

  • Except as prescribed in paragraphs (2), (3) and (4) of the QR&O, an officer or NCM shall be released in Canada.
  • An officer or NCM who is serving outside of Canada at the time the member’s release is approved may, if the member so requests, be released at the place where he is serving if prior approval is obtained from the CDS.

Note: the CoC makes the request to CDS and can be actioned before the voluntary release is approved.

Deciding on when and where to release will depend on the member’s personal/family circumstances and intent after release.There will be a move involved and members should review their options in the CFIRP Directive concerning moves back to Canada for release purposes.

OUTCAN/Isolated Post Transition Planning Scenarios

Deciding where, geographically, to complete release or CT administration, and out-clearance activities is complicated by being OUTCAN or at an Isolated Post.

The Initial Transition Process as described in the CDS/DM Order – OP TRANSITION applies to all members including those posted OUTCAN or at an Isolated Post.In broad terms most members should consider one of the following scenarios:

  • From OUTCAN/Isolated Post location to another in Canada;
  • At OUTCAN/Isolated Post location; or
  • Combination of Canada and OUTCAN/Isolated Post.

From OUTCAN/Isolated Post Location to Another in Canada

Several steps are required to accomplish the OUTCAN/Isolated Post location to another in Canada:

  • Before arrangements for a move back to Canada can be initiated, a member will need an approved request for release with a Release Date and Release Item. This is required even if reaching CRA or end of current TOS.
  • The member will need to inform the Support Unit of where they would like to release and a Change of Release Base (CORB) request will be staffed to Ottawa.
  • Release Benefits Administration (RBA) of DGCB is responsible to approve the CORB.
  • Director Military Careers Support Services (DMCSS) will provide a financial code for the move and arrange for a referral to BGRS to facilitate HHT or DIT and finalize arrangements for the move back to or within Canada.
  • If a member decides not to move back to Canada or within Canada from the Isolated Post then a financial code is not requested.
  • Members should ensure that their move date will respect the 30 calendar day Protected Period to complete transition administration and out-clearance (some administration/out-clearance can be accomplished before the move).
  • Member’s also needed to arrange dates for Initial, Progress and Final Consultations with the chosen Release Section.
  • Members need to provide information and on who will complete the CO’s checklist to confirm readiness for transition on behalf of the member.
  • HG&E and LTS will be shipped to the new residence when available and transition administration will continue.

At OUTCAN/Isolated Post Location.

Several steps are required to accomplish to stay OUTCAN or at the Isolated Post:

  • A member must seek CDS’s approval for OUTCAN release through their CoC – the Immigration Service of the country where they wish to reside/work will also need to be notified in accordance with international agreements.
  • If entitled, only after the CDS has approved the release can the member’s request be staffed to DCBA for an IPR move OUTCAN. For a member electing release OUTCAN, with an approved IPR, the next step is to request funding from DGMC/DMCSS to cover the costs for HHTs and movement of the member and your HG&E and a referral to the relocation contractor BGRS.Member’s must be aware of the linear staffing process and wait times for such requests, an administrative period of two months should be expected.
  • Members will also need to provide on who will complete the CO’s checklist on their behalf to confirm readiness for transition.
  • Take advantage of the 30 calendar days Protected Period to concentrate on out-clearance and transition administration to ensure benefits will be in place.
  • Once new residence is secured, the IPR benefit can cover the move of OUTCAN family, HG&E and LTS from Canada.

Combination of Canada and OUTCAN/Isolated Post.

Several steps are required to accomplish a combination of Canada and OUTCAN/Isolated Post:

  • If the member is working with the OUTCAN/Isolated Post support unit and Release Administrator at a chosen location in Canada (CORB), they shall apply for IPR HHT/DIT move and referral to BGRS if entitled.
  • The member will request their Unit to provide TD for return to Canada to complete some of the transition administration.
  • The period of TD will depend on how much administration/out-clearance will need to be accomplished in Canada but would not exceed the 30 calendar days protected window.
  • The IPR benefit will facilitate the member’s return move OUTCAN to the new location and move of HG&E/LTS as required.

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MyVAC Account

With MyVAC Account, you can connect with VAC anytime, anywhere.MyVAC Account is a simple and secure way for CAF members and their families who receive benefits directly from VAC to do business online with VAC. With MyVAC Account you can:

  • Learn about VAC benefits and services;
  • Apply online for VAC benefits and services;
  • Upload documents to support your applications;
  • Track the status of your applications;
  • View a summary of your benefits;
  • Sign up for direct deposit or change your banking information;
  • Connect directly with VAC staff through secure messaging; and
  • Update your personal information.

To learn more, sign-up for MyVAC Account

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Veterans Affairs Canada Transition Interview

Another step in preparing you to transition from the military is the VAC transition interview. It is recommended that you have a transition interview early in your transition process to help you and your family identify any needs you may have ahead of time.

At the transition interview, you will learn about VAC services and benefits for you and your family, depending on your personal situation. VAC personnel are also available to answer any questions you have about VAC.

Transition interviews are available to all CAF members (Reg F and Res F) who have started, or are planning to start the release process.

To set up a transition interview, you can call 1-866-522-2122, email through MyVAC Account, or visit your local TC or VAC Area Office. We suggest you schedule an interview as early as possible in your release process. Your family is also encouraged to attend, if possible.

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To be able to adapt, manage and cope within civilian life, the following considerations are proposed as they could help you to go through a seamless transition.

12 Months and more before your date of release

  • Attend a LTP Seminar.
  • Make an appointment with the CAF TC.

7-12 Month before your date of release

  • Plan your release.
    • Create a My VAC account.
    • Submit a request for release.
  • Calculate leave to determine how to use your remaining leave.
    • Plan your remaining leave days.
  • Participate in your first transition interview.
  • Maintain a file of all important documents and certificates for easy reference.
  • View online SCAN videos and/or attend local SCAN seminars.

1-6 Month before your date of release

  • Make an appointment with your orderly room of your unit to complete Out-Clearance.
  • Complete the Enhanced Transition Training through the DLN.
  • Request your pension package thirty days prior to release.Complete and send your pension package as soon as possible afterwards.
  • Participate in a VAC Transition Interview.
  • Ask for a copy of your Personnel file.
  • Complete the CAF Exit Survey.

Within 1 Month of your date of release

  • Confirm Receipt of your pension forms.
  • Participate in your Final Release Interview.
    • Release Authority / Transfer Notification.
    • Application for Voluntary Release.
    • Release Understanding.
    • Medical Statement on Release.
    • MPRR.
    • Cancellation of Security Clearance.
    • Security Caution and Document Return.
    • Certificate of Service.
    • Master Pay Record.
    • Surrender of Military ID and receive Veteran Service Card.
    • Record of Employment.
  • Plan and participate in your Depart with Dignity (DWD) ceremony.
  • Establish civilian wardrobe for work.
  • Meet with a notary or lawyer to draft a power of attorney.
  • Meet with a notary or lawyer to write a will.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle plan (PSP).
  • Identify extenuating family circumstances.
  • Build in sufficient time for hand-over to your replacement.
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