Certainly for those who've served in the military, the military culture and the military family have different characteristics from what you would have in civilian life. Those who have moved in civilian life have had different opportunities, moving between different employers and making career choices fairly independently of their employers. Within the military, your career is very much overseen and directed within the military culture and military personnel management system. The pride and affinity of serving members to their regiment is very profound. As young people enter the military, that becomes their home. They're given a lot of guidance and direction within the military. Those outside the military, as I said, would make more independent decisions, no doubt, over time.
I think what we have found is that over time, the military culture has a very large impact on individuals, and it's extremely important to them.
Yes, those who have worked outside the military culture obviously have had different life experiences. Obviously they've also had work opportunities that were extremely important to them. But I don't think you can underestimate the impact of the military culture. What we find is that as releasing members begin to prepare to move out of the military, there's a sense of wondering, “What's out there for me?” Within the military, it was fairly clear to them, throughout their whole career, what their progress might be, who was in charge, etc. Outside, there's a far greater requirement for them to take the steps needed to make independent decisions.
That's the cultural issue that we, in Veterans Affairs Canada, want to assist the member with. In Veterans Affairs Canada, for instance, all employees are working on taking cultural awareness and Canadian Forces awareness training. We're also working on ways we can reach out in a way that is culturally attuned to the military. We recognize that special element of serving in the military, which I do believe, from our findings, and certainly from speaking to the military members, is unique to that experience.