Support centre brings new level of care to military personnel, families

Integrated system one of 24 based nation-wide

Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class Steve Orwick at the reception area of  the new offices of the Integrated Personnel Support Centre. Orwick and his family used services offered by the centre after Orwick was stricken with a serious illness. Ready to help out are Leading Seamen Laura Golden

Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class Steve Orwick at the reception area of the new offices of the Integrated Personnel Support Centre. Orwick and his family used services offered by the centre after Orwick was stricken with a serious illness. Ready to help out are Leading Seamen Laura Golden



When Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class Steve Orwick lay fighting for his life in hospital with a poisoned pancreas earlier this year, a team of people – beyond the usual doctors and nurses – leapt into action to ensure he and his family were taken care of.

“When I had a military person at my (hospital) bed, there was a huge peace of mind that there was an attention to me, but also there was an attention to the family and those needs, because there’s added expenses to having a person in the hospital,” Orwick said.

The team of administrators that supported him celebrated last Thursday with the opening of CFB Esquimalt’s new Integrated Personnel Support Centre. Though it has been in existence for more than a year, it didn’t have a permanent home.

Now it is one of 24 units across the country providing a one-stop administrative shop to more than 3,500 past and present personnel and families of the fallen.

“We come to the injured person, the injured person doesn’t have to come to us,” said Col. Gerry Blais, Ottawa-based director of Canadian Forces Casualty Support Management, which heads up the units.

Personnel have instant access to Veterans Affairs Canada and the Military Family Resource Centre, among other experts who help them fill out paperwork, access career counselling, financial services, pensions, benefits, and assist them with returning back to work after an injury or illness, or helping them prepare for the civilian world.

“It’s very helpful because the (Department of National Defence) is big, there are many benefits and there are many programs,” said Blais. “And for an individual to try to meander their way through that is not always simple, whereas here they’ve got somebody basically to hold their hand and guide them through the entire process.”

The new centre works as a safety net for injured and mentally or physically sick members preparing for life beyond the military.

Phil Quesnelle remembers a time when “there was nothing we could do and nowhere where we could send (veterans). It was crazy, there were no resources for them.”

The Canadian Army veteran, who works at the centre linking veterans who suffer from operational stress injuries with support services, has found vets in Victoria’s homeless shelters or living in the bush on Vancouver Island.

Today, their numbers are fewer, due in large part to a more integrated approach to care offered by Veterans Affairs Canada and the Department of National Defence.

“We really have come a long way,” said Quesnelle. “It’s huge. It means the issues are being caught before the person leaves (the military).”

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

According to Statistics Canada, new housing starts and value of building permits in Greater Victoria rose in January 2021 compared to January 2020. (Black Press Media File)
New housing starts, value of building permits up in Greater Victoria

Cost of new housing also rising in region, now in excess of $1.15 million for a new detached home

Saanich Fire Department. (Black Press Media file photo)
Fire displaces three Saanich families from two homes

Saanich firefighters found the fire had spread to a neighbouring home upon arriving

An Island Health nurse prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy Island Health)
Health authority opening 19 clinics to immunize Vancouver Island residents

Health authority anticipates more than 40,000 people will be immunized over the next month

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating Mackenzie Courchene, a Langford teenager.
MISSING: Mackenzie Courchene last seen in Langford on March 2

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating the Langford teenager

Alphabet Zoo Early Learning Centre wants to relocate from Langford to 3322 Fulton Rd. in Colwood, but has not been approved for a P-6 zoning by Colwood council. Residents who neighbour the property, have expressed concern to the Goldstream Gazette regarding the potential daycare site. Neighbours Ryan Landa and Selene Winchester said the noise of construction has been disruptive to the area, and the property is not suitable for a daycare. (Photo contributed/Ryan Landa)
Proposed West Shore daycare stirs up controversy amongst neighbours

Neighbouring property owners are concerned about traffic, noise that a daycare would bring to the area

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

A woman walks through Toronto’s financial district on Monday, July 30, 2018. A new poll suggests most Canadians believe there’s still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in this country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Canadians, especially women, say gender equality not achieved in Canada: Poll

Poll results themselves underscore the challenge, with more men believing equality had been achieved

This image provided by Harpo Productions shows Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, left, in conversation with Oprah Winfrey. (Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via AP)
Race, title and anguish: Meghan and Harry explain royal rift

Meghan said she struggled with concerns within the royal family about her son’s skin colour

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is administered to a personal support worker at the Ottawa Hospital on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020 in Ottawa. Doctors in Alberta have signed an open letter asking for prioritized vaccination of health-care staff who work directly with patients on dedicated COVID-19 units. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
COVID vaccines for seniors in B.C.: Here’s how to sign up

Seniors 90+, Indigenous seniors 65+ and Indigenous Elders can book starting March 8

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Most Read