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Two N.S. veterans mental health organizations receive funding

Money from the Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund will be awarded to the Canadian Women’s Wellness Initiative and the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia
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Representatives of the mental health organizations at the funding announcement. (Photo Josh Hoffman / NEWS 95.7)

Earlier today, an announcement from the Minister of Veterans Affairs revealed that money from the Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund will be awarded to the Canadian Women’s Wellness Initiative and the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia.

The announcement was made by the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay in front of members of the public, and stakeholders from various mental health organizations and levels of government.

The Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund provides $3 million a year in grants and contributions to private, public or academic organizations for research, initiatives and projects that improve the well-being of Veterans and their families.

The first N.S.-based program to receive funding is Landing Strong, a 12-week day-treatment program for veterans and their families.

"These are people who've done service for our country, and it's our time to step up and make sure we're of service to them during this critical period," says Belinda Seagram, founder of Landing Strong.

Landing Strong will receive $727,876 over five years, beginning this year.

"Our goal is to have top tier services, we want to create a world class treatment program here in Nova Scotia," Seagram tells NEWS 95.7.

The funding will go towards their day-treatment programs based in Windsor, N.S, as well as year-round workshops and social media education.

"Ultimately, it's a program about helping people find their bearings in that critical period of transition out of service," explains Seagram. "We hope that this will reach thousands."

Seagram says one critical part of the program is involving family in the healing process.

"The heart of recovery and healing is nested in community. Nobody can do this alone," she adds.

Starr Cunningham is the president and CEO of the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia, the group receiving the funding that will then be diverted to Landing Strong.

She says that having these services within the province of Nova Scotia will mean veterans aren't separated from their families to receive treatment.

"When the veterans are out of province, their family's not there, their friends aren't there, they're not close to their community," Cunningham tells NEWS 95.7.

By bringing the services into the province with Landing Strong, Cunningham says veterans will pay about 75 per cent less for treatment.

"What it costs now for a veteran to leave the province and go somewhere like Ontario to receive similar treatment is close to $100,000," she explains. "What Belinda and her team are able to do here is closer to $25,000."

The second organization that will receive funding as part of the announcement is the Canadian Women's Wellness Initiative.

The initiative provides stress-reduction training to veterans and their families, and will receive $48,715 in the coming year to provide what's called transcendental meditation.

"It's a very simple, natural technique that's practiced for 20 minutes, twice a day, but it happens to be a very effective tool for stress reduction," explains Helen Creighton, the national director of the Canadian Women's Wellness Initiative.

Creighton says the funds will be used to help 20 different families all across Canada.

"It's also been shown to be very effective for decreasing symptoms of PTSD, so veterans can benefit greatly through the regular practice of meditation. ," she tells NEWS 95.7 at the announcement.

Local MP for Sackville-Preston-Chezzetcook Darrell Samson says that the announcement is much-needed for veterans whose mental health is suffering.

"It's extremely important, because they took care of us and they continue to take care of us, and they put their life on the line for us," he says.

Samson says the government is committed to increasing spending for veterans and their families, getting them the support they need.

"Mental health is a big issue for all Nova Scotians," he adds. "These are very important pieces that our government is putting in place to support veterans and their families."




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Victoria  Walton

About the Author: Victoria Walton

After graduating from journalism at King's, Victoria Walton now works in the film industry and as HalifaxToday.ca's weekend editor.
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