Thunder Bay – From November 5-11th, Veterans’ Week, the OPP says, “We honour those who have served Canada, past and present, in times of war, military conflict and peace. As we remember and reflect on the past, we also look to our future”.
The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is partnering with the Toronto Police Service (TPS), Royal Canadian Legion and Veteran Affairs Canada to educate police members on how to identify and respectfully engage a homeless veteran.
This includes knowing what to look for with respect to a veteran’s clothing, tattoos, medals, memorabilia, uniforms and photographs. It also includes what type of questions to ask a veteran and understanding military culture.
When a homeless veteran is identified, the police member will complete a Request for Assistance form. It is then sent to Veteran Affairs Canada and to the Royal Canadian Legion to verify the veteran’s service to better understand their present situation. Once complete, the Legion will determine the immediate needs of the veteran and take the appropriate action to meet those needs such as food, clothing and shelter.
This program is referred to as Operation: Leave the Streets Behind. It was developed in 2009 by The Royal Canadian Legion in partnership with Veteran Affairs Canada to assist homeless veterans and those at risk of homelessness. As of September 2020, since the beginning of the program’s inception, more than 893 homeless veterans have been identified in 173 towns.
This partnership is important as it will help to strengthen our capacity to identify and connect with homeless veterans to help them achieve their optimal well-being.