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Canadian Forces Introduces A Three-Year Adjustment Period

The Canadian Forces has formalized a career-transition-support policy for severely ill and injured personnel that allows them up to three years to heal before leaving the military, and increases options for retraining and new careers.

Severely ill and injured personnel “sometimes face profound and lasting changes in their life,” said Defence Minister Peter MacKay in announcing the policy which came into effect May 1.  The new policy will provide personnel who can no longer serve in the regular force or primary reserve “with time to heal, time to adjust to their new reality and time to make career choices.”

Over a period of up to three years, the CF will work closely with Veterans Affairs Canada on an individualized transition program encompassing physical and vocational rehabilitation as well as psycho-social and financial support. The policy applies to all full-time personnel whether or not the injury is attributable to service, and to part-time personnel whose medical need is attributable to duty.

The program may include further education or skills upgrading to enable personnel to pursue a new civilian career, MacKay said, and will facilitate transfer of severely ill and injured personnel to cadet organizations and Canadian Rangers training service, where they may be eligible for promotion as their career progresses.

Of the 5,500 personnel who leave the Canadian Forces each year, about 1,000 are medically released because they can no longer meet universality of service requirements. All service personnel, regardless of their military occupation, must be able to pass an annual physical fitness test, be able to perform their own jobs, prepare written military correspondence, fire and maintain a personal weapon and be deployable on short notice anywhere in the world.

Since 2005, medically released personnel have been eligible for priority hiring for open public service positions for which they have the necessary qualifications. In 2010, Chief of Defence Staff General Walter Natynczyk said wounded personnel would not be released until a transition plan had been worked out for them, and he mentioned work in the Canadian Rangers or cadet organizations as new career options.


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