Medical and Dental
Everyone will leave the Reg F of the CAF at some stage so you are encouraged to be proactive about preparing for your transition. This means considering areas of health and wellness that may benefit from additional assistance, such as smoking cessation, rehabilitation for injuries, or the completion of dental treatment. Your CAF Health Services team can help you to prepare for your future which may include doctors, nurses, rehab specialists, physiotherapists, dentists, psychologists, social workers or recovery coordinators.
One of the most important issue for CAF members and their families is to ensure the continuation of health care after release. For example, in selecting a new place of residence, particularly for a family in which one member is dealing with a permanent disability, it is important to confirm that appropriate health care will be available in the new location. In planning the continuation of health care, the family should be asking the following questions:
- Do I, or my spouse 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’re considering?
- How far will we need to travel to access medical care?
All military personnel are required to attend release medical examinations. This final check ensures any CAF-related injuries or illnesses are noted in case of issues later in life.
CAF members are exempt from the Canada Health Act and therefore receive health care services through a federally funded health care system, the Canadian Forces Health Services 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 look into seeking a family physician before they leave the CAF so that their medical care is seamless. Not all physicians accept new patients so it is important to investigate local availability as early as possible. Ensure enrollment in provincial health care system to have access immediately following release.
To expedite the process, the three month waiting period faced by new residents of each province/territory is waived for CAF members. In order to assist with a seamless transition of health care deliver, members should apply to the province/territory in which they will reside at the time of release. The application should be submitted upon receipt of 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.
Upon release, your local Health Records section will provide you a copy of the most relevant medical documents necessary to allow for a positive transition from the military health system to your new civilian physician. All personnel have the right to informally ask for their own 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.
Releasing members should inquire through the release section about the Pensioners' Dental Services Plan (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. More information about the PDSP can be found at Canada.ca under “Pensioners' Dental Services Plan rules”.
It is recommended that releasing 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 released 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.
The period around release can be very busy as you prepare for your civilian life. While there can be lots of 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 help promote resilience. If you are releasing for medical reasons and you need specialized equipment, training and events tailored to your condition, the Soldier On program may provide you resources and opportunities. For more information, visit the Soldier On website (https://www.soldieron.ca).
- Find a friend or family member to talk to or join a support group such as Operational Stress Injury Social Support (OSISS) family peer support at www.osiss.ca;
- Find local community resources at Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC) at www.FamilyForce.ca;
- Find a new interest that may have been put aside in the past and try implementing 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.
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