The Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) Assistance Service

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About the service

The VAC Assistance Service provides psychological support. It is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Call toll-free: 1-800-268-7708
TDD/TTY: 1-800-567-5803

The service is for Veterans, former RCMP members, their families, and caregivers and is provided at no cost. This voluntary and confidential service is delivered through a nation-wide team of mental health professionals. You do not need to be a client of VAC to receive services.

When you call, you will speak to a mental health professional who will ask questions to determine your needs. They will also ask your location so they can match you up with a local mental health professional for in-person, psychological support. 

Many kinds of help are offered

The VAC Assistance Service provides support for difficulties that affect your well-being. These may include work-related issues, health concerns, family and marital problems, psychological difficulties and other problems.

Sample situations below give an idea of how various situations can be addressed. For any issue, there can be up to 20 hours of psychological support.

When dealing with grief for the loss of a loved one, bereavement services are available.

If you would like to receive support from a member of the clergy, pastoral outreach can be provided.

Services for family members and caregivers

Spouses and children up to 21 years of age – or up to 25 years of age, if they are full-time students – may consult the VAC Assistance Service for any issue of their own.

Caregivers are entitled to psychological support for issues related to the care of the Veteran or former RCMP member where the objective would be to better support them.

Caregiver can include children over 21 years of age who are not full-time students, extended family members, and friends if they are providing support to a Veteran or former RCMP member.

Sample situations

The mental health professionals of the VAC Assistance Service can provide psychological support for Veterans, families and caregivers. Here are some scenarios that describe what could happen, who might be affected, and how problems could be addressed through support services.

A family of five, where one parent is a Veteran: The Veteran parent could be experiencing marital difficulties, work-related issues, and problems with one of the school-aged children. The Veteran, spouse, and child could each attend sessions with a professional who can provide assistance up to 20 hours of psychological support for each area of concern. Thus, one parent may require 15 hours while the spouse and child may only require five and eight hours, respectively.

A former RCMP member is single and lives with a 28 year old member of his extended family: The former RCMP member was seriously ill and was recently hospitalized. His 28 year old niece took care of and supported him during his hospital stay and will also take care of him during his recovery. The former RCMP member is eligible for support and his niece, as a caregiver, can receive support in order to better care for the former RCMP member. Each person can receive up to 20 hours of psychological support for the problem.

After receiving support for one issue, another issue arises: The Veteran or family member can call the VAC Assistance Service to describe this new issue and receive psychological support for up to 20 hours. Any family member affected may also receive services. So in this case, the person who calls may need 17 hours to resolve the issue, and another affected family member may need 10.

A former RCMP member living in an isolated region cannot get to an urban area to see an in-person mental health professional regularly: The VAC Assistance Service can provide telephone psychological support to help the former RCMP member for a given issue. Family members and caregivers can also be supported.

Who answers your call?

A Canadian mental health professional is always ready to respond to a call. They are bilingual with at least a master’s degree in a psychosocial field and they are trained in crisis and suicide intervention. If they determine that it is an urgent situation, they will provide you immediate support over the phone. They will make recommendations for further support and refer you to a mental health professional in your region for face-to-face psychological support. If you live in a remote area where access to in-person services is limited, psychological support can be provided by telephone.

How many sessions are provided?

You can receive up to 20 hours of psychological support per issue. The actual number of hours will vary depending on the nature, severity, and urgency of the problem. If the issue requires longer term support than the program can offer, you will be referred to external resources and supported until those specialized services are available.

Bereavement Services

We offer services to assist family members struggling with grief following a death that is not related to the service of Veterans or former RCMP members. You can receive up to 20 hours of psychological support, depending on the need.

We also offer a specialized service to assist family members struggling with grief, following a death that is related to the service of a Veteran or a former RCMP member. The number of available hours is determined on a case-by-case basis. The contact information is the same as for the VAC Assistance Service:

Call toll-free: 1-800-268-7708
TDD/TTY: 1-800-567-5803.

The Pastoral Outreach Program

Through the Pastoral Outreach Program, we can provide Veterans and their family with spiritual support when the need arises. This service is similar to the help military chaplains provide to those who are serving. Former RCMP members are not eligible for the Pastoral Outreach Program

Our service is primarily designed to provide you with support while you are dealing with end of life issues, the death of a Veteran, a burial in the National Cemetery, bereavement. For these and other issues or concerns, our carefully selected clergy are also available to help. Many of the clergy associated with this program are retired Canadian Forces Padres or Royal Canadian Legion Chaplains who are familiar with the military way of life and the challenges you may face as you transition to civilian life.

These services are not intended to replace the ministry of civilian clergy when you are a regular member of a civilian parish. However, we are able to provide a prompt response when pastoral emergencies occur and you do not have access to local clergy.

If you would like to talk to a pastor of the Pastoral Outreach Program, please use the VAC Assistance Service number:

Call toll-free: 1-800-268-7708
TDD/TTY: 1-800-567-5803.

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