10/30/2012 06:11 EDT | Updated 12/30/2012 05:12 EST

Feds fund soldier transition program one week after auditor's criticism

OTTAWA - Veterans Affairs has announced a partnership with the University of British Columbia to establish a program to help ex-soldiers with the transition to civilian life.

The announcement Tuesday comes one week after the auditor general criticized the way both National Defence and the veterans department treat those who are leaving the military.

Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney says the groundbreaking transition program has been in the planning stages for a while and offers veterans the opportunity to participate in group therapy as they make the adjustment to their new lives.

The federal government is contributing $600,000 over four years, but other organizations, such as the Royal Canadian Legion, are expected to come forward later this week with supporting funds for the Veterans Transition Network.

The program has been around for more than a decade and the B.C. branch of the Legion has already contributed over $2 million to the initiative, which has helped ease 275 veterans into civilian life.

The federal funding, as well as support from the True Patriot Love Foundation, will allow the network to expand its reach across the country with a goal of having 25 programs running by 2014.

Blaney says the partnership with a non-profit group is an example of how the Harper government is being innovative and modernizing the way it delivers support.

With Remembrance Day just around the corner, Blaney also underscored the number of other changes the department has made including improved online access and ways veterans can calculate their benefits.