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Remembrance Day Canada: Charities And Organizations That Support Canadian Veterans And Families

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REMEMBRANCE DAY CHARITIES
A man wraps a thermal blanket around a veteran to fight off the cold as they take part in a Remembrance Day ceremony at the war memorial at Queen's Park in Toronto on Friday, November 11, 2011. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette) | CP

Canadians across the country will pause for two minutes at 11 am on November 11 as part of this year's Remembrance Day observance to honour the Canadian military servicemen and women who lost their lives in the line of duty, in efforts dating back to the First World War.

But while the signature red poppy that symbolizes remembrance adorns many a lapel around this time, some may wonder whether there's more they can do to help support surviving Canadian veterans and their families. It's well documented that many soldiers who return from war suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and face difficult challenges in transitioning into a post-combat life.

There are non-profit organizations in Canada that focus on supporting surviving veterans in various ways -- here's a look at the services they offer and how Canadians can help:

General Support: Royal Canadian Legion
Probably the most visible awareness and veteran support campaign is run by the Royal Canadian Legion, the largest veterans organization in the country. Its annual poppy campaign raises funds to support veterans and their families who are in need. The Legion also advocates for veterans rights, provides services and programs for vets and their loved ones, and has the goal of ensuring remembrance for Canada's fallen is always upheld.

How to help: Buy a poppy and make a donation to the Legion's poppy campaign

Mental Heath And PTSD
PTSD can disrupt a person's life and ability to cope, often manifesting in symptoms that include flashbacks and nightmares, anger and aggression, depression and detachment.

PTSD and mental health are increasingly the focus of support efforts for war vets, with organizations such as the PTSD Association -- whose honourary chair is the Honourable Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire -- working to raise awareness and help those suffering to overcome the disorder. MilitaryMinds.ca was founded by Corporal Chris Dupee, and raises awareness about PTSD and funds to help veterans through sales of its apparel and fundraising events.

How to help: Donate to either the PTSD Association or purchase a hoodie or other products from MilitaryMinds.ca

Physical Health
Veterans may also return home with severe physical injuries. Well-known for its key tag campaign, the War Amps Of Canada aims to improve the quality of life of amputees of war and also child amputees, provide education for, raise awareness about and advocate for war amputees, and educate the public about safety and Canada's military history.

Ste. Anne's hospital, located just outside of Montreal, is a unique healthcare facility that caters specifically to war veterans. It provides long-term care, physical rehab and treatment programs, community services, and help for vets suffering from Alzheimer's and other cognitive deficiencies. In Ontario, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto has the largest veteran care facility in Canada, and also offers long-term care and cognitive support for its patients.

How to help: Order key tags from War Amps, or donate to or volunteer at Ste. Anne's hospital, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, or a veteran care facility near you.

Family And Community Support
Families who have lost loved ones from military action have to cope with the devastating loss and find ways to rebuild their lives. For some survivors, the trauma they've endured is too much, and the shock of reintegration too intense, and they become homeless. The Canadian Hero Fund provides educational funding to children or a spouse who have lost their parent or partner. The foundation helps provide tuition, residence and textbooks to the recipient.

Leave The Streets Behind is a project of the Royal Canadian Legion's Ontario branch which aims to help get homeless veterans off the street. A homeless veterans assistance fund has been established, and has helped provide vets with funds for first and last month's rent for housing, furniture and and food.

How to help: Donate $11 to the 11for11.ca Canadian Hero Fund campaign, or donate to the Legion's Joe Sweeney Fund.

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