The committee met only once this week to continue their discussion of the delivery of front-line health and wellbeing services for Canadian veterans. The committee welcomed witnesses from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) via videoconferencing. Witnesses from various centers within the department gave an overview of the various services they offer and then answered committee members’ questions.
The United States DVA offers services to some 20 million veterans and the department’s budget has grown for the past few years.
Of special note to committee members were the type of services that had no Canadian equivalent. For instance, the DVA utilizes mobile vet centres to provide early access and continuous services to veterans especially those who live in more remote areas. They also use mobile units to reach their homeless veteran population, providing them with toiletries, dental and medical evaluations and information on various DVA programs.
Committee members were also interested in the transition processes between the DND and the DVA, an area that various stakeholders in Canada believe needs improvements. The opposition committee members inquired about the direction of service delivery and the decision in the US to exempt the DVA from budget cuts. Witnesses explained that their various branches are focusing on providing more comprehensive and efficient services to their veterans and their growing budget is an indicator of such efforts.