Veterans emergency fund runs out of money

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(Steve Fischer/CBC)

By Evan Dyer

When a military veteran is in crisis and can’t wait for the wheels of bureaucracy to turn, veterans caseworkers and volunteer organizations have been able to call on a special fund for quick help.

The homeless vet who needs help on a winter’s night, or the vet facing eviction who has no money to pay the rent, has often been able to count on an emergency injection of cash — up to $1,200 per veteran in any given year — from a trust fund administered by Veterans Affairs.

The fund does not contain government money. Instead, it is made up of donations from individual Canadians, mostly in the form of bequests left in wills. Because it isn’t taxpayer money, it can be accessed quickly with a fraction of the paperwork involved in accessing most veterans benefits.

“It’s that area where the case manager can make a difference immediately,” said Michel Doiron, assistant deputy hire vetsminister of veterans affairs.

“We can put food in your fridge, we can get you into a homeless shelter or maybe even, in a city where there is no homeless shelter, into some hotel where we can take care of you and make sure you’re not on the street, especially in winter time.”

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