Veterans transition house provides holistic approach to healing | A Place to Call Home
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November 8, 2019

Veterans housing provides holistic approach to healing

She didn’t believe it at first – the idea that veterans wander the streets in Canada without a safe place to call home. Suzanne Le is executive director of Multifaith Housing Initiative. After speaking with veterans organizations about this issue she was convinced that her organization could do something to help.

Following active service, many veterans suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and mental health issues. During the transition from active duty to civilian life, many fall through the cracks and are unable to receive the services and support they need. They are also uncomfortable asking for help.

“Veterans feel as though they are the ones to be counted upon, and not the ones to count on others,” says Suzanne.

Suzanne hopes to change this experience. Veterans’ House: The Andy Carswell Building is a first of its kind supportive housing. Led by Multifaith Housing Initiative, the 40-unit building in Ottawa is for veterans and their unique needs.

Suzanne and her team consulted with various military organizations on the building design. It was important to reflect the military’s community culture and values while maintaining a welcoming, non-institutional, feel.

Veterans will have access to meditative gardens, plant and vegetable gardens, physical training facilities, and an outdoor space designed specifically for service-dogs. Veterans Affairs Canada will be providing caseworker support, and mental health charity Ottawa Salus will provide on-site counselling and support services. The holistic well-being and recovery of residents is a key priority.

“Whether we realize it or not, the life of a former serving member is vastly different from that of a civilian. Focus is never on the individual,” says Suzanne. “Attention and efforts must always be placed on the unit and achieving the unit’s objective. Veterans, especially those who have experienced mental health issues as a result of their service, need a hand in understanding that it’s okay to focus on themselves.”

Located on the former site of CFB Rockliffe, the Andy Carswell Building will form the heart of a brand new community, Wateridge Village, Rockliffe.

“We’re going to bring veterans in from the shelters, we’re going to bring them in off the streets, and we’re going to wrap them with the supports that they need in order to be successful people once again,” says Suzanne.

She hopes that Veteran’s House will serve as a model to help the 3,000 to 5,000 homeless veterans in Canada, and offer the unique help and assistance that they so greatly deserve.

Veterans’ House: The Andy Carswell Building, is funded by the National Housing Co-Investment Fund (NHCF), a National Housing Strategy (NHS) initiative.