Top 12 Q&As Any time. Any Reason. You can email or call the Family Information Line.

This is our current Top 12 List of Questions and Answers. Remember, there are no wrong questions. 

1.    How can I best support my children through a posting transition? 
A posting can be a source of stress for families as it can involve the uprooting of the family from their support system and familiar environment to a different place with its new set of challenges. Proactively planning towards a positive integration into the new community can provide reassurance during this transition period. We recommend connecting with the future Military Family Resource Centre as soon as possible to gather information and tips on the new posting location. Exploring social activities hosted at the new site and possibly even a family pairing program can be of benefit as well. Reaching out to the guidance counsellor at the Children Education Management program when a posting occurs between different provinces or territories program can also help prepare for a smooth transition from one school board to the next. Family Information Line counselors can provide assistance in accessing these organizations and talk things through at any time, day or night.

In terms of the family’s wellbeing during this adjustment period, keep in mind that there is short term support offered through the Canadian Forces Member’s Assistance Program (individual, marital and family counseling). Each individual will experience the move in a unique way and developing a sense of understanding, acceptance and support within the family unit is beneficial in overcoming difficulties. The Center for Family Resilience in UCLA has created an exercise that is particularly well suited during the transition period. It allows a broad exploration of the moving experience as a whole. The losses that will be felt can be acknowledged and validated, the gains and opportunities stemming from the move can be explored and anticipated and the elements that won’t be changed can be listed to highlight to bring comfort and reassurance. The content listed inside this tool can reflect the reality of each child, adolescent or adult. 

The Family Information Line counselors are available at any time to go through this tool and provide guidance on how to utilize this tool within the family. We can also direct you to various publications such as the Family Guide to the Military Experience for information.  
2.    My loved one is heading to basic training, what do I need to know?
There is a large amount of general information on the military education and training process available on the National Defense website. The most asked questions are about graduation ceremonies, contacting their loved one in case of emergency and how to send mail or parcels to them. These questions are answered at Forces.ca. Family Information Line counselors can provide assistance in navigating this website to help answer the questions you may have at any time.  We also recommend the Family Guide to the Military Experience for families who may not be familiar with the military lifestyle. This handbook is accessible and can help parents prepare for what’s to come. 

3.    My loved one has an Operational Stress Injury, who do I turn to?
Operational Stress Injuries (OSI) are difficult not only for the person who is experiencing them but for the family members as well. When a loved one is struggling with an OSI, it can be difficult to figure out how to help and how to adapt to the change in family dynamics. If you are feeling overwhelmed, helpless or exhausted, counselors at the FIL are there 24/7 to listen, to provide guidance and to connect you with resources that may be of benefit to you, your family and the person experiencing the OSI. 

To help our callers’ better face the reality of an OSI, we aim to connect the family with mental health professionals that can provide ongoing support either through the Member’s Assistance Program, the Military Family Resource Centre or in a community setting. We provide information and referrals to educational materials such as the Virtual OSI Resource for Caregivers and National Defense Publications which supports families in developing a greater understanding of OSIs. We also provide referrals to the Operational Stress Injury Social Support program and discuss the benefits of connecting with others who may be experiencing a similar reality. For the families who are in the process of medically-releasing from the Forces, we provide information and material on the release process. 

Although it can be difficult to ask for help, turning to understanding professionals, support programs and services can help alleviate some of the stress and increase connectedness and understanding within the family. Connecting with the Family Information Line and the local Military Family Resource Centre are first steps towards building a greater support system for the family.

4.    What services does the Family Information Line deliver in line with the Veteran Family Program?
As a service provider of the Veteran Family Program, the Family Information Line’s referral, crisis management and supportive counseling services are extended to the veteran population and their families – immediate and extended. Family Information Line counselors are available to provide information and guide veterans, medically-releasing members and their families to resources published by the Veteran Family Program, Department of National Defence and Veteran Affairs Canada. Additionally, Family Information Line counselors are available to provide guidance and resources to various service providers who may be supporting veterans in the community. Whether it is connecting you with the Veteran Emergency Transition Services, the local legion office or sharing caregiver resources, the Family Information Line is dedicated to providing assistance to the veteran community.

5.    How is my privacy protected when I connect with the Family Information Line? Is it confidential?
In accordance with protection of information laws, all information gathered by the Family Information Line staff is kept secured and confidential. As per the Code of Ethics of the Canadian Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, exceptions to confidentiality occur when disclosure is required to prevent imminent danger to the client or others, when legal requirements demand that confidential material be revealed and when a child is in need of protection.

6.    What should I do if I am concerned for a member’s wellbeing?
If ever you think a member is at imminent risk of hurting themselves or others, we recommend connecting with the authorities immediately. In other situations, it can be challenging to know which steps to take when we are concerned for someone’s wellbeing. Calling the Family Information Line will connect you with a counsellor who can discuss and explore the signs and indicators you have noticed regarding the member’s wellbeing. We provide guidance on the next steps to take whether those are accompanying you in connecting with the appropriate authorities, liaising with a padre for a wellness check and/or sharing resources to provide to the person you are worried about. We are available at all times. 

7.    I would like to get involved in supporting the CAF members and veterans. What is the best way to go about this?
The Support Our Troops Program offers a variety of options for those wishing to offer their support to the CAF community. These options range from offering donations to volunteering at campaigns and events and even hosting fundraisers in collaboration with SOT! For those seeking to send parcels and holiday cards, you will find more details at Q8.

It is also possible to get involved in local organizations such as Military Family Resource Centres and Legions. Family Information Line counsellors can help you connect with the centers and offices nearest you.  

8.    Is it possible to send Holiday cards and wishes to CAF member posted overseas?
Yes, there a several ways to express support and gratitude to the CAF troops. Sending parcels of letters and cards to the troops can be done year round. This method of expressing support is often chosen by groups, schools and organizations as it allows a collection of greeting cards and messages to be sent. Please note the specific instructions to ensure your correspondence is received. During the holiday period, sending care packages is also a possibility through the OP Santa Claus initiative. Family Information Line counselors are available to guide you through the process and connect you with organizations that may be able to reduce the cost of shipping parcels. Last but not least, the National Defense message board is also a place to leave messages of support for our troops and veterans.

9.    How can I be of help to someone living with family violence?
The Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS) works collaboratively with the Family Violence Prevention and Awareness Campaign in providing education and good practices protocols to CAF leadership. As a service provider within CFMWS, the Family Information Line is available to debrief and accompany you in taking the steps to support a loved one who may be living with family violence. These steps may include connecting with the local Family Crisis Team, referrals to Military Family Resource Centre professionals, ensuring children’s safety through Child Protection Agencies and seeking assistance from the authorities and local shelters. Various publications on CFMWS’s stance against family violence can be found here.

10.    How can the Family Information Line be of help to my family during a deployment?
In times when the unexpected happens, whether it be an issue with military housing, an immediate need for emergency child care or the necessity to transfer an urgent message to a member in theatre. The counselors at the Family Information Line can guide you to these processes. Additionally, as a 24/7 service, we are available at any time to debrief, to accompany you in problem-solving and to help you connect with helpful resources around you. 

11. How is FIL support via video different?
Just like calling or emailing, the Virtual Counsellor will provide information, referral and emotional support to military families. While access to FIL is available 24/7 via phone and email, virtual counselling is scheduled between the hours of 7:00 a.m.to 11:00 p.m. ET. This allows families to book several sessions at specific times and to request the same counsellor for these sessions. Virtual counselling can be accessed by phone or video.

12. How do I book an FIL session via video? 
Connect with the Family Information Line by phone at 1-800-866-4546 or by email at FIL@CAFConnection.ca and request to speak with a Virtual Counsellor. The Virtual Counsellor will book a session or multiple sessions for you. If you are an MFRC mental health service provider looking to refer a client, connect with the Family Information Line by phone at 1-800-866-4546 or by email at FIL@CAFConnection.ca and request to speak with a Virtual Counsellor for an assessment.