The government’s new defence policy includes nearly $200-million to be invested in a new total health and wellness strategy for Canadian Armed Forces and Department of Defence employees.

According to the policy, the new strategy will expand wellness beyond the traditional health-care model to include promotion, prevention, treatment and support, and will provide a greater range of health and wellness services and programs.

“While there are many excellent existing DND/CAF health and wellness programs and services available, the field of ‘total health care’ has greatly evolved and we will evolve with it,” Daniel Le Bouthillier, head of media relations at National Defence, told Benefits Canada in an email. “The total health and wellness strategy is in fact a defence team strategy with allocations for both CAF members and DND civilians.”

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The new strategy will consider psychosocial well-being in the workplace, the physical environment and the personal health of members, including physical, mental, spiritual and familial. It will also include key initiatives to support health and resilience, promote a culture of healthy behaviour and support military families. Additionally, the government will look at implementing a joint National Defence and Veterans Affairs suicide prevention strategy that will include hiring additional mental-health professionals and implementing a framework focused on preventing suicide across the entire military and veteran community.

“There is an obvious link between the overall health and wellness of a military and its operational effectiveness,” said Le Bouthillier. “To effectively deliver on the defence mandate, defence will ensure the needs of our military members, their families and defence civilians are met. For members of the CAF, this means being well supported from the moment they join, throughout their career, and finally as they transition out of the military. This also includes keeping the door open to veterans wishing to return to service, or who later need assistance and support.”

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The policy also notes sick and injured soldiers will be allowed to stay in the military until their pensions and veterans’ benefits are in place.

The policy document notes the government will re-establish a personnel administration branch of experts in military human resources management and will establish a Canadian Armed Forces transition group. “All military personnel will use the services of this group, where the professional staff will ensure that all pre-release and pension administration is completed, and benefits are in place, before the transition to post-military life,” it states.

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Copyright © 2017 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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