The Royal Canadian Legion says they are identifying more and more veterans who are living on the streets in Saskatchewan.
Executive Director of the Royal Canadian Legion Saskatchewan Command Chad Wagner says about 10 per cent of the homeless population in Saskatchewan are veterans.
Wagner believes the biggest factor in veterans becoming homeless is the transition from military to civilian life.
Wagner says that transition can be frustrating for veterans, waiting as long as a year for help from either Veterans Affairs or the Ministry of Social Services. He says that long wait time could lead to frustration, mental health issues, addictions and eventually homelessness.
Wagner says the follow up programs currently offered need to last long-term, not just a quick check during the transition process.
“It’s the back-end support,” said Wagner. “Making sure that – you know – one, two, three months after discharge, and then 6, 7 months, then 12 months, then 15 months; it’s got to be a progressive and periodic follow-up to the support systems.”
says there needs to be support during discharge and in the months and years that follow.
Wagner says the supports need to be long term because symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder are often revealed long-term. He says it can take up to 2 years for symptoms to develop, and something as subtle as a colour or a smell could trigger a flashback to the traumatic event.