Local organizations receive federal funding to aid veterans
The federal government announced Tuesday that four Calgary-based organizations will receive funding to help house and employ veterans.
Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, pledged $1.2 million in federal funding towards local organizations associated with veterans’ issues.
The recipients of the funding include the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, The Legacy Place Society, The Mustard Seed, and Prospect Human Service Society.
Partnering with Homes for Heroes, The Mustard Seed plans to use its share of the funds to create a village of self-contained tiny homes in the Calgary-area for homeless veterans.
Other plans include post-service employment, wellness support, and research towards transitionary housing for veterans.
Speaking to the levels of veteran funding, MacAulay suggested one of the biggest challenges is raising awareness to the fact that government dollars are available. "People want help, but they just don’t understand that there’s help there."
MacAulay also suggested it’s important for veterans to recognize they are a valued part of society. "What we need to do is to ensure they fully understand all Canadians want veterans back in the mainstream of society," he said."
"We want them to have a home," he added. "We want them to have a job."
Assessing a perceived surge of veterans in need, Bill McAuley (Retired Captain) of Legacy Place Society suggested it had actually been a long-term issue.
"You would have to look at maybe we weren't collecting the data, that they were always there," he said.
McAuley suggested that a high operational tempo for the military since the 1990's shifted more of the focus to operational commitments and less to the needs of veterans.
"I think maybe we were just not looking at the problem before," he said, "and now as we offer supports and the funding comes to have these programs moving, we realize there is more need than we potentially thought was out there."
The tiny homes project will include 18 fully-furnished units in the community of Forest Lawn, as well as a community garden and memorials to fallen soldiers. The project is expecting its first tenants to move in by October of 2019.
It is estimated there are up to 5,000 homeless veterans throughout Canada, including 180 in Calgary.