More about VETS Canada
A grassroots movement, VETS Canada began in 2010/2011 when Jim Lowther, a veteran himself, realized that there were veterans slipping through the cracks. They had not made successful transitions from their military careers to healthy, productive civilian lives. These veterans had lost their families, were living in the streets or at-risk of being homeless and were, at times, suicidal. They were unemployed and many were trying to cope with mental and physical injuries related to their service without adequate health care and other community support. Jim formed a small team in Halifax, NS to seek out and help homeless and at-risk veterans with a view to helping reintegrate them into civilian life.
VETS Canada Today
This movement has grown into a federally registered non-profit charity that has a network of 135,000 and hundreds of dedicated volunteers across the country, most of who are ex-military/RCMP. They work within the community to identify homeless veterans and quickly re-establish the bond of trust that exists between soldiers.
Working within the community, VETS Canada members attempt to move veterans from the streets or shelters into affordable housing (if available). They also connect the veterans with needed health care, help them access benefits and services from other organizations, and support them in finding suitable employment. The volunteers stick with these veterans every step of the way and do everything possible to help them re-establish themselves. To do this, VETS Canada has a national Board of Directors composed of volunteers and has outreach across the country.
In 2014, VETS Canada was awarded a contract by Veterans Affairs Canada whereby they are now approved Veterans Affairs Service Providers in the field of homeless and in-crisis veteran outreach.
VETS Canada has evolved from just assisting homeless veterans to also providing support to those who are not necessarily homeless but who are “in crisis”. Whether that crisis is not being able to afford groceries or a hydro bill, or it’s an emotional/mental health crisis, VETS Canada is available to provide support.
In 2015, VETS Canada launched it’s Guitars for Vets program which offers peer support through guitar lessons.
As VETS Canada continues to grow, our goal is that VETS Canada be recognized throughout Canada for its expertise in seeking out and providing initial response to homeless and at-risk veterans. With Ground Support Teams in every province, we will seek out and provide initial aid and comfort to homeless and at-risk vets. Dedicated and trained volunteers will have an excellent understanding of the support that government and other organizations can provide and will have cultivated effective working relationships with these groups that allow them to assist vets within their respective mandates.