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Diane Claveau is one of Canada’s homeless military veterans—a segment of the population that, embarrassingly enough, reaches not the hundreds, but the thousands.
“I never thought I would end up living in my van,” said Diane, now 56-years-old, in an interview with CTV Ottawa, discussing how she spends her days in shopping mart parking lots.
“To me, living is getting up in the morning and go to work, have friends, have a life, a place to stay. Now, I’m not living,” she said. “It’s the opposite. Sometimes, I feel I’m dying.”
Claveau is presently on a waiting list for subsidized housing, and despite her health issues which she acquired during her tour of service, is trying to land a job.
In Ottawa alone, there are at least 60 to 80 veterans in Ottawa who lack proper housing.
In Canada, there are an estimated 3000 to 5000 homeless veterans across Canada, a figure which many critics call a national embarrassment.
“I would say this is one of big shames of Canada,” says Suzanne Le, the Executive Director of Multifaith Housing Initiative, told CTV Ottawa. “We have failed these people.”
Claveau, of course, agreed, stating that she relies on Ontario Works for her monthly spending allowance, as well as help from a woman’s support unit that provides food and hygiene products.
Claveau says the only reason she ended her military career was because of exposure to tear gas, an injury which still pains her to this day.
“It’s the pain, all down my leg,” she says, “It’s controlled with medications now that I take.”
Claveau says she receives compensation from Veterans Affairs Canada, but that she’s suspicious of the efficiency, and she’s critical of the department’s handling of her case.
An email from a spokesperson for Veterans Affairs Canada stated that they could not comment on specific cases such as Claveau’s.
Latest government data suggest 2,250 veterans still use homeless shelters every year.