Transition from the military to CSC: challenging but worthwhile


Shortly after Anne Marie Joyce first started at Correctional Service Canada (CSC) in 2000, she sent around an email that she later realized offended almost every person who received it. She didn’t understand what had upset them until it was pointed out that her military-style directness was not how people communicate in the public service.

The Veteran said she could have benefited from some guidance on adjusting her communication style in the public service. As seen in the latest case studies done by CSC's Veterans Support Secretariat (VSS) this is a familiar situation for many Veterans. As a result, the VSS offers a peer network to help with transition struggles such as these.

“People who work in the military are immersed in that culture and don’t necessarily understand the unwritten rules in the public service—the soft people skills,” said Anne Marie, Assistant Warden Management Services at Grand Valley Institution for Women. “Having the ability to tap into somebody who moved from the military into the public service to say, ‘You’re interpreting that wrong; that’s not part of the culture,’ and having somebody help navigate it in the workplace is really useful.”

Anne Marie Joyce

Anne Marie Joyce, Assistant Warden Management Services at Grand Valley Institution for Women, found unique challenges as a Veteran working at CSC.

That is the ideology behind the VSS, which was formed in 2018 to help Veterans transition from the military to working at CSC. Having a better understanding of CSC helps Veterans feel they fit into the culture. This is essential in enabling CSC to retain people with significant skills and experience.

“Otherwise,” said Anne Marie, “valuable skill sets walk out the door.”

Often people join the military because they want to support their country and make a contribution to Canadian society. It can be difficult when they are medically released, or leave the military, and can no longer do that in the military. The 2015 Veterans Hiring Act, which encouraged federal departments (such as CSC) to focus hiring initiatives on Veterans, allows them to continue to serve the country in a positive way.

There are many aspects of CSC that are similar to the military. There is a rank structure in institutions, many employees wear a uniform, and it is a rule driven organization guided by the Commissioner’s Directives, operating procedures, and policies.

However, John Croucher, Associate Director, Veterans Support Secretariat, points out that the VSS conducted extensive case studies that found that the assumptions that most Veterans come to CSC after being medically released from the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), and most Veterans are employed as correctional officers were false. Realizing these misconceptions has helped CSC to develop better strategies for hiring Veterans.

David Boisvert is one example of a Veteran who did a career shift when he left the military for personal reasons. He became a registered nurse and joined CSC in 2016. He now works at Drummondville Institution. He agrees that there are many similarities that make CSC a good fit for Veterans.

“Here we need to work in teams, like in the army—a team effort. It’s a place where security is a huge part of the job, so a bit like in the army where there are rules about security and procedures,” he said.

David Boisvert

Veteran David Boisvert is a registered nurse who has worked at Donnacona and Drummondville Institutions since joining CSC in 2016.

David talks about the advantages of being a nurse at CSC: good work schedule, wages, and benefits. He adds that the pension is one of the biggest bonuses with the ability to buy back years worked in the military.

“With Veterans’ years of service in the CAF recognized, they are able to maintain their earned level of seniority, leave, and time served towards retirement,” said John. “This becomes extremely valuable to Veterans being able to release and port their pensions over to the public service.”

David said that although there was no VSS when he started, once he heard about it and contacted John, the VSS helped him navigate his pension buy back and benefits. Seeing the value of the services that the VSS offered to Veterans, David volunteered with the Veterans National Advisory Committee as the Quebec representative.

Veterans add an additional value to CSC with their unique and diverse skill sets that can greatly benefit every sector. CSC recognizes and supports the VSS in recruitment and retention of our Veterans, setting the standard across the public service.

The Veterans Support Secretariat would like to invite all CAF Veterans to step forward and let us know you are out there. Our community of Veterans within CSC continues to grow and we want you to be part of how we improve our support.

Please get in touch by emailing the VSS at GEN-NAT-VSS@CSC-SCC.GC.CA


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