By Nicole Goehring for the Edmonton Sun, July 19, 2018
Last week I made an exciting announcement about a pilot project our government is leading to improve the lives of military families and veterans. July 9 was Heroes Day at the Calgary Stampede. It’s a day set aside to honour the women and men of our military who put their lives on the line for our country, our values and our way of life.
We know our freedoms come at the cost of your service and sacrifice, and we are grateful. It is also a day to honour military families - the spouses, children and other loved ones who share in that sacrifice. They are the unsung heroes who serve alongside members in uniform. Families step up when their loved one is deployed to a challenging mission such as Mali, or when soldiers risk life and limb in rescue efforts such as the Fort Mcmurray wildfire, and when news comes that their soldier has been posted to a military base across the country. When that happens, families start life over in a new community— again, and again, and again.
Heroes Day was an opportunity thank military members and families. I was honoured that Brigadier General Trevor Cadieu stood beside me to make this announcement at the Calgary Military Family Resource Centre. Working together with our wonderful MFRCS and families, military leadership, and our government, I know we can make a positive difference in the lives of military families and veterans. This is an exciting commitment to military families posted to Alberta.
In my role as Government of Alberta’s Liaison to the Canadian Armed Forces, I have had the privilege to talk with military families, MFRCS, uniformed members and veterans. They have shared their concerns and priorities.
This pilot project is guided by what they told me. It is a commitment to help them access the services they need, such as new schools and child care; spousal job hunting and career development; a new doctor and dentist, and Alberta drivers licences and licence plates.
We will work across Alberta government departments, with military leadership and with Military Family Resource Centres to make the transition to Alberta as seamless as possible. It could mean schools in Alberta will know what curriculum new students are coming from, and can ease the transition. It could mean military families on health care waiting lists will not lose their place in line for medical procedures. It could mean veterans requiring a place to live will be provided with safe affordable housing and services under one roof.
Our government is working to make access to services easier for military families. For example, we are developing a unique website tailored to military families that will provide “one stop shopping” to help military families access all the services they may need.
The specially trained Post-traumatic Stress service dogs that joined us for the news conference are just one example of how our government is working to support military families and veterans. These dogs are trained specifically to meet the needs of military and first responders.
In Alberta, appreciating our military and their families is more than words. We are taking action.
With the Military Families and Veterans Pilot Project, Alberta is leading the rest of the country in best practices. What Alberta achieves with this pilot project will be shared, and will help support other provinces when they launch similar projects.
Working together we will make relocating military families as seamless as possible, right across the country.
Alberta has a proud military history. That is why we are so proud to support our military families. We are proud to lead the country with this pilot project. I look forward to announcing our progress this fall. Moreover, we will continue to work with the military, MFRCS and with all levels of government to ensure our men and women in uniform— and their families—have the support they need.