May 2 – 8 is National Mental Health Week in Canada… an opportunity to raise awareness and dispel the stigma around mental health and mental illness. Mental health is a growing issue for serving and retired Veterans, including RCMP, and The Royal Canadian Legion has long been working to advocate for supports and solutions for mental illness in the Veteran community.
Before post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or operational stress injuries (OSI) were on everyone’s radar, the Legion was working to develop intervention programs to support Veterans with mental illness and help them transition to civilian life. We have since supported many mental health initiatives and have contributed millions towards this challenge.
Last year, the Legion proudly donated $1 million to The Royal to help open Canada’s first brain-imaging centre exclusively dedicated to mental health research.
In 2012, the Legion established a national homeless Veterans program, “Leave the Streets Behind”, providing immediate and long term supports, often to those suffering with mental health challenges.
The Legion partners with and supports numerous programs and initiatives across the country that support mental health, including the Veterans Transition Network, Joint Personnel Support Unit, and Soldier On to name a few.
And just this month, we were very pleased to announce the creation of the Legion’s Operational Stress Injury – Special Section, a peer support network that will provide enhanced outreach and support for all Veterans and their families affected by OSIs, including PTSD, anxiety disorders, depression, substance use disorders and other conditions that interfere with daily functioning.
The Legion is committed to ensuring every Veteran receives the care and benefits they deserve, and we continue to work to raise awareness and advocate to address the invisible wounds of service.
If you or a Veteran you know is suffering, the Legion is here to help, just as we have always been. Though we cannot assist directly in the specialized area of mental health, our Service Officer Network can direct you to numerous programs and services available for Veterans and their families to get the help they need.
In addition to the Legion programs and supports available, we invite all Veterans to come visit your local Legion branch for camaraderie and support. We are a place where Veterans can gain strength, find comfort, and start to get the assistance they need.