The unique circumstances that our military men and women face often makes the transition back to civilian life challenging. Some develop operational stress injuries (OSIs) including invisible wounds such as PTSD, depression and anxiety, substance abuse, and other conditions that interfere with daily functioning.
The Royal Canadian Legion is here to assist Veterans in getting the help and supports they need. Our free, confidential services are available for all Veterans, including currently serving and retired Canadian Armed Forces and RCMP members, and their families.
Although the Legion cannot assist directly in the specialized area of mental health, our professionally trained Command Service Officers assist Veterans and their families by:
- Ensuring they are aware of all benefits and services they are eligible for
- Accessing disability benefits and services through Veterans Affairs Canada
- Referring the Veteran to specialized mental health programs and resources
- Providing information on additional programs and supports available in their community
Learn more about Legion support for mental health.
What can a Veteran or family member expect when he or she contacts a Legion Command Service Officer?
First steps through the Legion
Many Veterans will visit a local Legion Branch to request assistance. Volunteer Branch Service Officers are the boots-on-the-ground, and are available to assist with Legion paperwork, and refer Veterans to a Legion Command Service Officer for assistance with Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) disability benefits. Veterans may also choose to contact a Command Service Officer directly for assistance.
The process for requesting assistance and support through a Legion Command Office is the same for all Veterans, regardless of whether the injury is physical or mental or whether the Veteran needs other support. In the first meeting or phone call, we will ask the individual to complete a Legion Claim Application Form - we can help complete the form if assistance is needed. This form allows the Command Service Officer to access the Veteran’s confidential health information through Veterans Affairs Canada. Access to this information ensures we can identify the benefits the individual is eligible for, and assist and represent them in accessing those benefits.
In situations where the initial first meeting suggests the Veteran is in need of immediate or interim assistance while going through the claims process, they would be referred to a program that can offer immediate support, such as mental health counselling, or the OSISS Peer Support program.
Legion guidance and support throughout the process
Once the Command Service Officer has reviewed the individual’s file and discussed the options with him or her, they will register the claim to VAC on the Veteran’s behalf. VAC requires a current diagnosis from a qualified medical professional, and completion of a medical questionnaire. The Legion can support the Veteran in obtaining the required medical information and reports.
While the case is being adjudicated, and throughout the process, the Legion Command Service Officer will continue to be available to the Veteran and their family to assist with the process, and facilitate other requests for support. Our objective is to ensure the Veteran and their family receive the care and benefits they require, in a timely manner.
Other Legion supports
In addition to the private, confidential support available through a Legion Command Service Officer, the Legion also offers additional mental health support at the community level through our Operational Stress Injury Special Section (BSO Legion OSI). BSO Legion OSI is a Veteran-driven initiative helping connect Veterans with others who have been impacted by OSIs. Our members conduct community-based outreach, organize peer-support opportunities, and offer referral services for Veterans and their families who are affected by operational stress injuries. To find a BSO Legion OSI member near you, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many local Legion Branches also offer referrals within their community to assist ill or injured Veterans. Contact your local Branch for more information.
We can help
If you or a Veteran you know is affected by operational stress injuries, please contact a Command Service Officer for help. All Veterans services through the Legion are offered free of charge, and you don’t have to be a member to get help.