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January 2024

The Salute! banner with the words under Salute being, Proudly Serving Canada's Veteran Community.

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Free daily admission to Parks Canada sites for CAF members, Canadian Veterans and their immediate families

Effective 1 January 2024, CAF members, Veterans of the CAF and their immediate families will receive free daily admission to all Parks Canada administered sites by presenting their CF One Platinum card or Veteran’s Service Card.

The CF One Platinum card is administered through Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS) and issued to currently serving members and Veterans of the CAF and their immediate families. The Veteran’s Service Card is available to any former member of the Canadian Armed Forces who completed basic training and has been honourably released. If you don’t have one, apply here.

Spending time in nature can be good for your health and exploring cultural sites and stories gives the chance to spend time alone or with loved ones. Parks Canada national historic sites, national parks and national marine conservation areas provide excellent opportunities for Canadians to get outside, relieve stress and connect with loved ones.

To make the most of your Parks Canada experience, try to plan in advance by visiting the Parks Canada website. Visitors can also download the Parks Canada app and follow Parks Canada on social media for inspiration and to help plan their perfect visit.

Release of Veterans Affairs Canada Accessibility Progress Report 2023

On 22 December 2022, VAC released its first-ever Accessibility Action Plan, which lays out our commitment to improving the accessibility of our programs and services. Accessibility means being mindful while developing products, devices, services, or environments to consider how they affect people with disabilities.

Over the past year, we have tracked our progress. This Accessibility Progress Report highlights achievements since the plan was implemented. We will produce another progress report in 2024 and publish an updated accessibility plan in 2025.

Like the Action Plan, the “nothing without us” principle guides these efforts and was developed in consultation with persons with disabilities. You can read the full Accessibility Progress Report 2023 on our website.

You can provide your feedback on the Action Plan, Progress Report, and/or accessibility at VAC by mail, email, telephone, or through the Department’s anonymous online feedback form. Alternate formats are available upon request.

We will continue to make the Department more accessible for all. Please visit our Veterans Affairs Canada website for more information.


A Veterans mental health ad is pictured, showing head and shoulder photos of four individuals, under the headline “Sometimes a smile isn’t a smile. Sometimes it’s a shield that hides the struggle.” There is also information about how to contact Veterans Affairs Canada if you or your family need assistance by calling 1-866-522-2122.

New 9-8-8 suicide crisis helpline

A new, easy-to-remember phone number connects people experiencing suicidal thoughts to free 24/7 suicide prevention support by phone and text messaging.

The Government of Canada and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health launched the national helpline on 30 November 2023. The 9-8-8 website has information and resources for understanding suicide, talking about it and recognizing the risk factors.

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, please call or text 9-8-8 for judgement-free suicide prevention support. They can also help people who are experiencing a crisis or feeling hopeless.

Do I call 9-8-8 or 9-1-1?

If you or someone you know is in crisis or having thoughts of suicide, call or text 9-8-8. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, or if you need emergency services, please call 9-1-1.

A graphic shows a woman looking concerned and speaking to a young man. Under the picture are five steps to prevent suicide, including listen attentively; reassure the person they are not alone, let the person know you care, stay in touch to show support and help the person connect with help.

What happens when I call 9-8-8?

It may be helpful to know what you can expect when you call or text 9-8-8. Here is a guide to what happens:

  1. You may receive a message that you are being connected to your provincial service, if one exists.
  2. You will be told that you have reached 9-8-8.
  3. You will be asked if you would like support in English or French.
  4. Depending on your region, additional options may be available to you. You will be asked to select if you would like specialized support for First Nations, Inuit and Métis. You will be asked if you are under 18, as there may be specialized youth support.
  5. Privacy statement:
    • If you call: you will be told that the call may be monitored and recorded for quality and training purposes and given information on how you can access 9-8-8 terms and conditions online.
    • If you text: you will be informed that a transcript of the text conversation may be saved.
  6. You will receive a message that you are being routed to a responder.

Learn more at


Programs and services for Veterans and their families

Best Advice Guide 2023 updated to cover the diverse needs of more Veterans

A graphic showing a photo of a man wearing a stethoscope around his neck and holding a cellphone talking to a young man with a cast on his foot. The document is titled Resources and Considerations in Providing Care to Veterans 2nd Edition.

The conversations Veterans have with their family doctor and other health-care professionals are essential to their care. The College of Family Physicians of Canada has published online the Best Advice Guide: Resources and Considerations in Providing Care to Veterans, 2nd Edition is a tool to help Veterans and health professionals alike.

It offers tips for health professionals who are caring for Veterans and has a wealth of links and resources that serve the diverse needs of members of the Veteran community across the country.

You, as a Veteran or family member, can benefit from the resources, while learning more about best practices in treatment. As result, your meetings with health providers can be more productive so you get the support you need.

The guide covers topics such as:

  • moral injury
  • sexual trauma while serving
  • chronic pain
  • mental health care and operational stress injuries
  • traumatic brain injury
  • substance use and addiction
  • trauma-informed care
  • suicidality

As a Veteran or family member, you can also help your care provider by making sure they are aware of this resource. For example, there are sections on equity-seeking and under-represented Veteran groups, military culture and transition considerations, and support for patient intake and completing paperwork.

The Best Advice Guide is 37 pages and is downloadable.


Money matters

A Registered Disability Savings Plan may be right for you

A recent survey showed that 20 percent of Veterans had received financial planning advice in the past 12 months. Would you like to learn more about these topics? Do you know about maximizing the benefits of registered government savings plans? There are resources that can help you decide what’s best for your situation.

With this article, Salute! continues its series on financial literacy. This article focuses on Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSPs)—a type of registered savings plan that promotes financial well-being for individuals with disabilities.

Why open a Registered Disability Savings Plan?

An RDSP is a type of long-term savings plan. It is designed to help low- and moderate-income Canadians who are approved for the Disability Tax Credit to save for long-term financial security. The Government of Canada has information about the Disability Tax Credit and how to apply for it.

If you are approved for the Disability Tax Credit and open one of these saving plans, you may be eligible to receive contributions into your plan from the Government of Canada. The contributions are made in the form of Canada Disability Savings Grants and/or Bonds.

Canada Disability Savings Grant

The Canada Disability Savings Grant is an amount that the Government of Canada pays into an RDSP to match contributions that you, your family or your friends make. The Government may contribute up to $3,500 per year, and up to $70,000 over your lifetime.

Canada Disability Savings Bond

The Government may also pay a bond of up to $1,000 a year to low-income Canadians with disabilities who open an RDSP. People do not need to make any contributions in order to receive the bond.

You can find more information on the Canada Disability Savings Grant and Canada Disability Savings Bond in Employment and Social Development Canada’s RDSP Brochure.

Employment and Social Development Canada’s website also has an RDSP Savings Calculator designed to help individuals understand how money in an RDSP can grow over time.

Who can open an RDSP?

Any Canadian may become a designated beneficiary of an RDSP if they meet certain criteria. These details be accessed on the Canada Revenue Agency’s website. To be eligible, the applicant must:

  • be approved for the Disability Tax Credit
  • have a valid Social Insurance Number
  • be a resident of Canada at the time they enter the plan
  • be under the age of 60.

Any Canadian, including Veterans who have physical or mental impairments, can start by working with a licensed medical practitioner to submit an application for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC).

The DTC helps reduce the amount of income tax that individuals with physical or mental impairments may have to pay. You may be eligible for the DTC if a medical practitioner certifies that you:

  • have a severe and prolonged impairment in an activity of daily living or category (e.g., walking, dressing, speaking, vision)
  • have significant limitations in two or more areas, or
  • receive therapy to support a vital function.

For more information on the Disability Tax Credit, please visit Canada Revenue Agency’s website.

Do you need more advice about your finances?

If you would like to speak with a certified financial counsellor about your financial situation, there are resources available in your community to help. For example, Credit Counselling Canada has developed information specifically for Veterans and their families. Getting help is free and confidential. If you would like to learn more, please visit their Veterans page.

You can always call the Veterans Affairs Canada with your questions, toll-free at 1-866-522-2122. For persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, contact TTY at 1-833-921-0071.

If you need psychological support, you can contact the VAC Assistance Service at 1-800-268-7708 or use the chat service (password: Canada). For persons who are hearing impaired: TTY 1-800-567-5803.

VAC recognizes and supports the mental, physical, and financial well-being of Veterans; however, VAC does not provide financial advice. This content is being shared for information purposes only.


Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund

Good Shepherd Ministries helping Veterans in need

Good Shepherd Ministries has been helping individuals experiencing homelessness and vulnerable people since 1963. It provides people with the basic needs of life and helps them to overcome addiction, access health care and find affordable housing.

Since 2010, Good Shepherd has worked with the Royal Canadian Legion and Veterans Affairs Canada, to help Veterans find stable housing, deal with addictions and improve social and life skills.

In 2019, Good Shepherd established a Veterans Housing Navigation Team with funding from the Veteran and Family Well-being Fund. The team helped 38 Veterans secure stable housing. They also provided support services to 72 Veterans, including coordinating essential services such as health care, income support, employment and transportation and advocating for Veterans in areas where extra support was needed.

Anybody in need in the Toronto area can contact Good Shepherd Ministries, which serves all people free of charge.

VAC has supported Good Shepherd Ministries through the Veteran and Family Well-being Fund. To learn more, visit our website.

If you or someone you know is struggling with homelessness or their transition to life after service, visit the VAC website for help related to at-risk housing situations, emergency funding and mental and physical health. We also provide benefits and services to families and caregivers of Veterans.


Spotlight on Women Veterans

Julia’s path from military service to an MBA

Master Seamen (ret’d) Julia Scouten is pictured in front of a monument with her biggest supporter, her sister Sub-Lieutenant Tanya Wiltshire, shown in her military uniform.
Master Seamen (ret’d) Julia Scouten with her biggest supporter, her sister Sub-Lieutenant Tanya Wiltshire.

Julia’s journey to life after service has been full of growth.

Growing up in a small town in southern Alberta, Master Seaman (Retd) Julia Scouten never envisioned a career in the military until she found herself at a professional crossroads at the age of twenty. Her father encouraged her to join the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and took her to the local recruiting office, where she was offered a chance to join the Navy. She served over nine years, which included an overseas deployment to the Persian Gulf on HMCS Toronto. In 2008, she decided it was time to release from the CAF to pursue a career in the public service.

Leaving the CAF was a smooth process for Julia, largely because it was a choice made on her terms. With a desire to continue to serve her country, she decided to join the public service. After a few years of work, she decided to get a post-secondary education to help her further her new career.

With the advice and support of a colleague from the Navy, Julia decided to pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA) at the University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management. She accessed the Education and Training Benefit through Veterans Affairs Canada to help fund her schooling and graduated in 2021.

“Since I have graduated … a few years [ago], it [my MBA] has opened up my doors to numerous opportunities that I’m so incredibly grateful for.” – Julia Scouten

Julia’s journey post-service has been full of progress, opportunity, and gratitude. She is now a senior leader with the Department of National Defence, where she continues to serve Canada proudly.

Are you a Veteran or still-serving member wondering about making the most out of life after service? Learn more about the Education and Training Benefit on our website.

Women Veterans health tip with Dr. Cyd Courchesne (Chief Medical Officer, Veterans Affairs Canada): “Learning is the key to training your brain for the next challenge in life. If you can aspire to grow, you are helping yourself for future situations.”

Do you have a story to share about experience in the Canadian Armed Forces? Tell us about it by email.



RCAF turns 100

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF)! Members of the Royal Canadian Air Force have served Canada around the world, in conflicts, operations and peacekeeping missions.

As we mark this anniversary, we honour the sacrifices and achievements of RCAF members over the past century. For 100 years, their bravery and sacrifices has helped keep Canada safe. During the Second World War more than 245,000 people served in the RCAF, participating in missions ranging from bombing raids, fighter engagement to reconnaissance and transport flights that played a vital role in the Allied victory. Then and now, they have helped protect and preserve the freedoms of all Canadians and helped those in need in Canada and abroad.

Check out the Royal Canadian Air Force’s Centennial webpage to learn more!


Help name our sheep

A cartoon sheep is shown, smiling.

Part of Veterans Affairs Canada’s efforts to commemorate the service of Canada’s Veterans is to create engaging learning materials for young Canadians. Some of these materials include animal characters to captivate young minds. In 2023, we sent over 4 million free, bilingual educational kits to educators across the country. These resources include inspiring stories of people and events from across Canada’s military history.

This year, a sheep will join the Remembrance Club to educate students about Canada’s overseas memorials. This new character will represent the herd of sheep that help maintain the preserved battlefields at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France. However, our sheep still needs a name.

We invite you to visit our website to learn about our new wooly friend. Read and hear the list of English, French and Indigenous name options, and vote for your favorite. Please encourage your colleagues, friends and networks to participate too!

Cast your vote in our online poll by 31 March 2024. You can also organize a vote at your upcoming gatherings and share the group results via email. We will reveal the sheep’s new name in April 2024 in time for Vimy Ridge Day.


Commemoration calendar

Early January:
Canadian battalion reached front lines for first time during First World War. (1915)
January 6:
CAF Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) left for Sri Lanka after deadly tsunami. (2005)
January 8:
CAF began Operation RECUPERATION after 1998 Ice Storm. (1993)
January 11:
HMCS Magnificent arrived in Egypt carrying Canadian peacekeepers. (1957)
January 15 and 31:
The Royal Canadian Naval Reserve and Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve were established. (1923)
January 16-17:
Operation Desert Storm began in Kuwait and Iraq during the Gulf War. (1990)
January 26:
Canadians launched attack at Kapelsche Veer in the Netherlands. (1945)
January 28:
Lt.-Col. John McCrae – military doctor and author of “In Flanders Fields” – died. (1918)
January 30:
CF-18 Hornets helped knock out an Iraqi warship during Gulf War. (1991)
Early February :
First elements of the 3 PPCLI Battle Group arrived in Afghanistan. (2001)
February 1:
Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force unified to form the Canadian Armed Forces. (1968)
February 8:
Operation Veritable began during the Second World War. (1945)
February 18:
Battle of Paardeberg began during South African War. (1900)
February 21:
Canadian soldiers come under attack for the first time during Korean War. (1951)
February 25:
CAF began Operation Mobile in response to unrest in Libya. (2011)
February 28:
The Gulf War ends. (1991)


Send a valentine to a Canadian Veteran

An image showing a messy stack of children’s Valentines.

Each year, Canadians of all ages are invited to make special Valentine’s Day cards for Veterans. Receiving a message of gratitude and recognition brings joy to these real-life heroes on Valentine’s Day.

If you would like to receive Valentines for yourself or Veterans near you, please contact us.

If you’re an educator or a member of a community organization, please get involved and share this special program.

Send your valentines to us by February 1 at:

Valentines for Vets
Veterans Affairs Canada
Commemoration, Distribution Unit
125 Maple Hills Avenue
Charlottetown, PE C1C 0B6

Learn more at the Valentines for Vets web page.


The Atlas Institute invites you to their Veteran Family Virtual Summit 26-27 January 2024

A graphic promoting the upcoming Veteran Family Virtual Summit, January 26-27, 2024.

This online event is free to attend and promises many meaningful conversations about Veteran family mental health and well-being. Organized by the Atlas Institute for Veterans and Families, the summit will offer resources and support to meet the unique challenges faced by families of RCMP and CAF Veterans.

Over two days, experts in the field will share their knowledge and insight and learn from the real-life stories and experiences of Veteran family members. A translation service will be available in French for all sessions.

Keynote speakers include:

  • Day 1: Stéphane Grenier, who wrote about his service in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide and his experience with mental health care in his autobiography, After the War: Surviving PTSD and Changing Mental Health Culture,
  • Day 2: Daphne McFee, who is a retired RCMP sergeant and wrote a book called It’s Not ’Cuz of Me for children who have PTSD in their family.

To learn more about the conference, visit the Atlas website for the full agenda. You can also go directly to their registration page.


Do you know other Veterans, family members or others who would benefit from the information in this newsletter? Feel free to share it with them.


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