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New budget aims to give veterans better access to education, job market and health care

Walt Natynczyk speaks to a group of veterans at the Summerside Legion during a medal presentation on Tuesday.
Walt Natynczyk speaks to a group of veterans at the Summerside Legion during a medal presentation on Tuesday.

With the release of the 2017 federal budget, Walt Natynczyk is looking forward to implementing measures to better take care of Canada’s veterans.

Natynczyk, deputy minister of Veterans Affairs, spoke Monday in Summerside about the recent budget saying it’s focusing on three main areas for those transitioning from the Canadian Armed Forces: access to education, families and mental health.

“This is our second budget, and with every one so far, government has provided additional services to veterans. It’s something to clap about,” said Natynczyk.

“About a year and a half ago, the government gave a list of 15 mandates to my minister. And in the budget of 2016 we were able move up on some of those, like increasing disability award and reopening offices, including the one in Charlottetown.”

The most recent budget is significant, said Natynczyk.

“It’s not the same amount of money, but this budget is about the well being of veterans. Often we focus on the money, but we’ve found that when a veteran has something to do the veteran is happier with their retirement.

“I call it the GI bill. It’s a benefit for all members of the Canadian Armed forces beginning April 1, 2018, that allows them access to up to $40,000 for education after six years of service and up to $80,000 for education after 12 years of service.”

Because the mandates are still a work in progress, Natynczyk isn’t sure if veterans who have already gone to school after transitioning will be reimbursed the money they played for education. These details have yet to be worked out.

Natynczyk and the department are also working on job placement.

“Now there will be a program to help veterans through the education process but also with resume writing and job placement, which is key,” he added.

Veterans Affairs is also launching a pilot program that will allow those discharging from the Armed Forces, who have been injured, have access to all 32 military and family resource centres.

He added, “This budget is to ensure that the veteran can transition with a sense of purpose, financial security, a roof over their head and a sense of identity.”

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