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Canada is the proud home of over 600,000 Veterans. As a Veteran, have you considered making the transition to civilian life? If so, have you wondered how you can make the most of the skills and benefits you’ve earned if you do?
Most likely, you’ll find life outside of the service is new and entirely different. However, if you’re transitioning to civilian life, you may find the following tips and resources for Canadian Veterans helpful.
Keep reading to learn more about benefits and Veteran services in Canada.
Our Nation’s Heroes
Canada’s Veterans are vital and revered members of society. Members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and those who’ve served before them, are heroes. They’re courageous, disciplined, and tenacious.
Still, if you’re a Veteran, you must prepare for the transition to civilian life. Therefore, it’s essential to equip yourself with the tools for personal and professional success after years of service.
Some Veterans find it challenging to make the switch. No matter your rank, civilian life can hit you with unexpected challenges. Fortunately, there are many resources dedicated to helping military and law enforcement personnel enter civilian settings.
From Soldier to Civilian
Under a third of CAF personnel leave the service with a pension. In this scenario, it’s vital to find employment that will continue to meet your salary and pension needs.
If you have yet to earn your pension, you may have considered staying enlisted longer to secure it. However, the longer you stay enlisted, the more challenging it is to transition into civilian life.
All kinds of people have enlisted in the military. Many of them have successfully adapted to civilian life. However, not all Veterans make the transition gracefully.
Canada Veterans Service Card
One of the first steps in transitioning into civilian life is applying for your Veteran’s Service Card (VSC). The card is available for all former members of the Canadian Armed Forces.
It’s a bilingual document that displays several essential pieces of information. This information includes your:
- Given name
- Record of service
- Service number
You must meet several criteria to qualify for your Veteran’s Service Card. For example, you must complete basic training. You must also receive an honourable release from the CAF.
You can apply for your VSC online or by mail. The application process is about two weeks faster when you apply online. However, you cannot use email to apply for your VSC for security reasons.
The government of Canada does its best to verify your Veteran eligibility and fulfill VSC requests within ninety days.
Applying for VAC Financial Benefits
You can complete the VSC application process using the Veteran’s Service Card secure portal.
However, some people prefer to use mail, and that’s fine. In that case, you can download the Veteran’s Service Card application, fill it out, and mail it to the address on the form. If you apply by mail, make sure to keep a copy of your application.
Along with your application, you must include a quality passport-like photo. You must also have your Canadian Armed Forces certificate of service.
You can direct any questions about your application to [email protected] or call 833-995-0004.
Veteran Services in Canada
It’s essential to understand your Veteran benefits. If you’re fortunate, you received a Canadian Armed Forces monthly pension. The pension is payable immediately upon your release from active duty.
Timing is important when it comes to your military pension. You must think about the challenges you’ll face after completing service.
Again, the longer you’re in the service, the more challenging it can prove to transition to civilian life. Usually, if someone remains in the service long enough to receive their pension, the shift into civilian life is a bumpy road.
You can learn more about the CAF pension by visiting the website for retired military personnel.
Learning New Communication Skills
The CAF advances personnel based on merit. Still, relationships are a critical part of the selection process for acceptance to developmental courses and leadership in the military.
Relationships in the military are as important—if not more so—than they are in civilian life. Still, relationship-building is a vital part of working for any organization.
Military vs Civilian Work-Life
If you’ve served in the military, you’ll never forget the reprimands you received from instructors. These warnings were your first taste of military-style communication. If it weren’t so frightening at the time, you might even think they were hilarious.
Military communication can prove quick, to the point, and harsh. However, even within the military, you expect this kind of communication to change once you’ve transitioned from a fresh “boot” to an experienced Veteran.
Likewise, communication will change once you’ve entered the civilian workforce. As a result, you’ll find it’s necessary to change your communication style. If you fail to do so, you’ll find it challenging to remain employed and manage your finances on the other side of the uniform.
Getting in the Right Frame of Mind
It helps to recognize that most people have never experienced getting yelled at by a drill instructor or reprimanded by a grizzled Sergeant Major. So even if you think you’ve toned down your communication, you may still have not adjusted your style in a way that’s comfortable for civilians.
You may find it challenging to provide appropriate responses to difficult workplace conversations in some instances. With this in mind, it helps to develop a habit of pausing for a moment after one of your co-workers finishes talking.
Often, we formulate responses in our heads as people are speaking. However, a brief pause will give you time to convey a more appropriate response.
Highlighting Your Accomplishments
Growing your career is an integral part of smart money management. After military service, you may believe you’ll find civilian life relatively easy. However, you might find it more challenging to build a resume and cover letter than you might think.
Canadian employers know that the best way to support former troops is to provide them with the means to help themselves in civilian life. Still, you must make your case to employers with your resume.
Using your resume, you must define your equivalent civilian skills without overselling yourself as having executive experience. Of course, the exception here is if you’ve served in the CAF as an executive.
You must also have patience with the civilian application process. It can prove quite lengthy.
Honing Your Resume
It’s crucial to polish your resume as much as possible. For example, you must tailor your resume to each job application. You must also make sure your resume is easy to read.
You must highlight your skills and abilities related to the civilian job market. Where possible, break down your achievements and work history.
Also, use -ing form words—or action words— throughout your resume to highlight your achievements. For example, you should use words like confirming, developing, and leading.
More Resume Tips
You should include relevant information in your resume, such as your education, training, and work experience. However, keep it concise and to the point.
For instance, you may have served in a specialist department in the military. If so, outline what skills you’ve learned that transfer into civilian life.
Here, you could list specific examples of when you’ve demonstrated those skills in the military. You should also list any certification or education qualifications earned while in service. You can include this information with your pre-military education and qualifications.
Finally, you must proofread your resume relentlessly. Of course, you should also have someone else proofread before submitting it to a potential employer.
Applying For Government Service
As a Veteran, you may have the upper hand in securing a government job. You can look for government and other veteran-oriented jobs by visiting Canada’s Veteran Job Bank online.
Still, there are some points that you should mind when applying for a government job. For instance, many government jobs seek exact responses to questions. They’ll screen you out if you don’t answer the questions clearly and precisely.
Also, if you’re bilingual, this is an important skill for government work. In fact, it’s required for senior positions. Accordingly, it’s a good idea to pursue training in a second language while you’re in the military.
Government agencies use AI to sort candidate applications using keywords like their corporate counterparts. With this in mind, look for relevant keywords in job descriptions. You should use those keywords word-for-word.
Choosing a Career Path
In civilian life, you can have an equally rewarding second career. On average, Canadian Veterans enter civilian life with an annual salary of $68,370.
You’re much more than your time spent in military service. The military provides you with a strong identity and life narrative. Yet, you can achieve tremendous success outside of the CAF.
Still, you may need a helping hand in this area, and that’s fine. You can find information about transitioning to civilian life by visiting the Canadian Armed Forces Community online. The organization works on behalf of the Chief of the Defence Staff.
Meanwhile, let’s have a look at a few civilian career options you might consider after completing your tour of duty.
You may have considered a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) role. Accountants advise people on financial matters.
The Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada promotes the unification of the profession. You may want to consider joining this organization if you’re going to work in the field.
Attention to detail, critical thinking, and time management skills are essential for accounting work. You must also have a firm grasp of analytical and math skills.
You might find working for the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) appealing. For some, work in this field is an enriching opportunity.
The CSC welcomes applications from Canadian Veterans. The agency also favours applications from Allied forces members and former RCMP members.
You’ll require decision-making ability, problem-solving, and leadership skills to work as a Corrections Officer. You must also have negotiating skills.
Alternatively, you may have considered owning and operating a small business. You’ll design, launch, and run a new enterprise in this role.
You must have decision-making ability and skills in strategic thinking and leadership to run a business. You must also have strong communication skills.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business can help you get started on the road toward entrepreneurship.
Firefighting is challenging and rewarding. However, it’s also one of the most dangerous jobs in the country.
You require bravery, grit, and strategy to work as a Firefighter. Luckily, you’ve already gained these skills in the military.
You must think fast when working as a Firefighter. You’ll also need physical strength and stamina.
You may have served in the military as a healthcare professional. If so, you might consider a career as a Paramedic.
A Paramedic is a skilled medical professional. You’ll provide emergency medical assistance outside of the hospital setting in this role.
In addition to your medical skill, you’ll need compassion and the ability to work with others in your role as a Paramedic. You’ll also need a high level of mental concentration.
In Canada, pilots are in high demand. If you’ve learned piloting skills in the service, you might find this field attractive for your transition to civilian life.
Piloting pays well. However, you may not find this job ideal for enjoying a rich social life. Scheduling in this field is quite erratic.
As a Pilot, you might fly for a commercial airline or charter service. You could fly to either domestic or international destinations.
If you’re a female Pilot, you might consider contacting the Toronto Women in Aviation chapter to aid your career transition.
You must have fast decision-making skills to work as a Pilot. You’ll also need the ability to think rationally and logically. In addition, you must also have good hand-eye coordination and physical strength.
Canada has a proud tradition of policing. There are more than 100 Police forces across Canada.
Together, these organizations employ more than 70,000 officers and nearly 30,000 civilians.
Your military service is highly advantageous if you’re considering a career in law enforcement. Veteran-specific resources are available if you’re interested in this field as a career. You can visit the RCMP Veterans’ Association website to get started on the policing career path.
Social work is a vital part of Canadian society. Furthermore, it’s a role that’s in high demand.
If you’re interested in social work, it’s essential to understand that the social work profession has a high burnout rate. In addition, it can prove stressful working with people with troubling issues.
You’ll need strong communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills to work in this field. Most importantly, you must have empathy. Also, as a Veteran, you can use your experience to help other Vets who may have trouble transitioning out of military life.
If you prefer a hands-on career, you might consider working in a vocational field. These fields might include:
- Automotive repair
- Information technology
Many of the skills you’ve acquired in the service can transfer well to civilian trades. These skills might include discipline, teamwork, and mechanical aptitude.
You can learn more about starting a trade vocation by visiting the Canadian Veterans Vocational Rehabilitation Services website.
Trucking is another vital part of the Canadian economy. The industry employs more than 200,000 people.
Truck Drivers deliver goods and materials across the nation. Currently, there’s high demand for people who work in this field.
As a driver, you’ll need skills in operating large trucks and heavy equipment. You must also have the ability to work long hours and enough physical strength for the job.
Veterans Affairs Canada Benefits and Services
No matter your path after the service, you’re not alone. If you’ve served in the military, Veterans Affairs Canada Benefits and Services can help.
The organization helps to support Veterans and their families. It also invests in Veteran training that could help you to avoid incurring debt like student loans. There are many programs and services that you can find on the organization’s website.
Other Career Transition Veteran Services in Canada
As a Veteran, it’s a good idea to explore your career options. The Government of Canada military career transition web page is an excellent place to start.
There, you can find a wide range of information. The website covers topics, such as:
- Career exploration
- Education opportunities
- Financial planning
- Training opportunities
Alternatively, you could pursue one of the previously mentioned careers by visiting the Veteran Affairs Canada website. Using either resource, you can find an inspiring range of services and programs to help you transition into civilian life.
Yet, you may want to do more research. If so, you can still find plenty of online Veteran career resources.
Financial Assistance for Disabled Veterans
Some Veterans may have experienced an emotional or physical disability related to their military service. In these instances, they qualify for the Disability Pension for Veterans.
The Disability Pension is a tax-free monthly benefit. The amount of the benefit varies based on the degree of disability. Payments may also vary based on other factors.
You can find out more about the Disability Pension For Veterans by visiting the Government of Canada disability benefits page.
If you’re injured, you might also have an interest in the Veteran’s Disability Award. You’d receive the award as a lump sum once per disability.
Like the Disability Pension, the government bases the payment on the degree of disability. You can learn more about the award by visiting the Government of Canada’s disability award website.
Critical Injury Benefit and Rehabilitation Allowance
As a Veteran, you may have suffered a severe and permanent injury. If so, Veterans Affairs Canada offers a one-time payment of up to $300,000 called the Critical Injury Benefit. You must have received the injury during military service to qualify for the amount.
Veterans Independence Program (VIP)
If you’re an injured Veteran, you can access home care services that will help you remain independent while living at home. The Veteran’s Independence Program (VIP) provides annual funding to help cover the cost of home care services. For instance, VIP offers tax-free funding for services, such as:
- Grounds maintenance
- Meal preparation
- Personal care
- Professional health services
- Support services
VIP does not replace other federal, provincial, or municipal programs. However, it does work alongside them to help you meet your needs.
The War Veteran Allowance
Some Veterans may have financial difficulties because of low or no income. They can access the War Veterans’ Allowance (WVA) in these instances.
The WVA is a tax-free monthly benefit for Veterans and their dependents or survivors. The allowance can vary based on sources of income, marital status, and the number of dependents in your family.
Veterans who qualify for the WVA can also access grants of up to $1,000 per year through the assistance fund. You can find out more about this service by visiting the Government of Canada’s War Veteran’s Allowance page.
Loans and Mortgages for Veterans
Once you’ve shored up your financial preparedness, you may want to secure a loan for your next big step in life. As a Canadian Veteran, you have several options.
For instance, there are military mortgages just for Canadian military personnel. Most major lenders also offer a defence fund for members of the CAF.
You could also find that you’re eligible for a mortgage penalty waiver if you can confirm you worked for the CAF but served elsewhere. In addition, the Department of National Defence has a financial package that you can use to help with the closing costs of a new home.
You can find out more about these Veteran-specific financial products by speaking with your lender.
Level up on Life Skills
Hopefully, we’ve revealed enough information about Veteran services in Canada to help you transition to civilian life.
Still, managing your finances is a never-ending journey. So please feel free to browse our blog to learn more about making the most of your money.