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Ottawa unveils service cards for veterans

The Brandon Sun - 9/13/2018

There will be a new way to honour veterans who have served Canada.

National Defence and Veterans Affairs Canada introduced the new service cards for Canadian Forces veterans on Tuesday.

Similar cards were discontinued in 2016 when the Conservative government cancelled them.

"It's very important for us as a nation to recognize their service to their country," Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan told The Brandon Sun on Wednesday.

"Now, when somebody leaves the Canadian Armed Forces after they retire, after they have served, after completing basic training and have been honourably discharged, they are able to carry that card and have an identification that says they served in the Canadian Armed Forces."

The cards are available to anyone who has passed basic training and been honourably discharged from the military.

The new cards will be distributed in three stages, beginning with newly released Canadian Armed Forces members.

The next stage will begin in December 2018, when veterans who were released between April 1, 2016 and September 2018 will be able to apply.

The last stage will begin in the summer of 2019, and cards will be produced upon request to all eligible veterans who were released before February 2016.

The veteran service card is something that veterans have been asking about for a long time, Sajjan said, and it was a gap that they realized needed to be filled for retired service members.

"We listened to our veterans, we listened to Canadians and they said 'look after our people,' and not only do we have to look after them while serving, we're going to be looking after them once they leave the military as well," he said.

The new card will have a picture on it, and on the back there will be a phone number if they ever need support.

With the previous card, veterans had to serve 10 years to be issued a card, which is one of the biggest changes between that card and this one, Sajjan said.

"There's some people who have served even three years and been on deployments," he said. "At the end of the day, when a Canadian volunteers to serve their country, you give unlimited liability. And so if you make that decision, that (the card) is to honour that service, to honour that decision.

"This is more than just a piece of plastic in your wallet. This is about the recognition that they have served."

» mverge@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @Melverge5


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