Quarterly Newsletter - Fall 2019
For the latest news and updates
Check out the Military Family Services (Europe)  Facebook page or view one of our many information briefs on YouTube
Your Military Family Services Team
Consider Volunteering
By Sue Goddard, Military Family Services Europe Senior Manager
The boxes are unpacked and your new house looks like your home again. Your spouse is busy with their new job and your kids are in school. Now you are looking for a way to connect with your new community. Or perhaps you have been in Europe for a while and are settled but looking for new experiences.
Volunteering is a great way to connect to your community, whether you have just arrived or have been here for a while. It offers you the opportunity to make friends and build bonds. It also allows you to acquire news skills to add to your resume and fill in a gap created by limited (or perhaps non-existent) employment opportunities during this posting.
Volunteering has also been proven to have numerous benefits for your physical and mental health;
  • Builds self-esteem and confidence
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Helps to prevent depression
  • Improves your immune system
  • Contributes to longevity
  • Reduces risk of Alzheimer’s
Most importantly perhaps, is that it is a great way to build and be part of a resilient CAF community. There are many examples of vibrant, supportive CAF communities across Europe which are being supported entirely by CAF community members who volunteer their time to help their fellow CAF families. As families find themselves without access to the supports that are available in Canada, due to the language barrier, these volunteers play an important role in enhancing the quality of life in their community. 
There are not always a lot of opportunities in the various countries in which our families live but MFS(E) provides volunteer opportunities both in our centres and virtually for those who do not live close to a centre? There are also other CAF organizations in Europe, such as PSP, actively looking for volunteers. 

If you are part of a CAF community that lives remotely, you can even create your own volunteer opportunities by planning community activities, supported by MFS(E).
For more information on what volunteer opportunities might be available to you, contact the MFS(E) staff responsible for your location.
MFS(E) Annual Symposium
By Angie Thibodeau, Military Family Services Europe Manager

Each year, the MFS(E) team from across Europe joins together for a time of personal and professional development. As caregivers to our Canadian community of families it is essential that we ensure our teams are armed with the tools, knowledge and resources to help them continue to provide ongoing support to our CAF families OUTCAN and acknowledge their efforts in doing so. This training also allows them to have a voice around the table, to share best practices with one another and to witness firsthand the fundamental value team building can provide to their everyday work environments. They are the faces and the heart of our organization and we make it a priority to empower, support and essentially provide them an opportunity to fill up their own "buckets” so they can continue to help our families fill theirs! Introducing your 2019 MFS(E) support team!
Your Military Family Services (Europe) team of 2019 in Maastricht, The Netherlands, November 2019.
Make your #ProudMoments known!

Did you know that our #ProudMoments are our most popular posts on our MFS(E) Facebook page? They allow for all our European CAF community to be inspired and come together in congratulating small and big successes! Let's participate in this fun initiative and demonstrate how CAF families in Europe are resilient. Send us your pictures and share your positive stories! We all need some good news from time to time!
European Advisory Committee

Did you know that MFS Europe has an Advisory Committee made up of family volunteers? The role of this committee is to represent to the Senior Manager of Military Family Services Europe the needs of CAF families posted to Europe. The MFS Advisory Committee is different than a Board of Directors in that it does not hold legal or financial responsibility for MFS Europe. Rather, it exists solely to represent families. All staff of MFS Europe report to the Director MFS in Ottawa.

This year, we had significant turnover in our Advisory Committee Reps, due to postings back to Canada. While we have filled most positions, we are still looking for reps for Brussels, Naples, Neiderheid and Riga. If you live in these communities and are interested in volunteering to represent CAF families, please contact the Senior Manager MFS Europe for more information.
A message from Myriam, our MFS(E) Social Worker

Dear community members,

You’ve (finally!) received your vehicle and personal items (hopefully all in good shape...), and are beginning to find a new ‘’normal’’ on this side of the ocean.

As much as all this is surely a relief, some of you may find that things are still ‘’not quite right’’: you might be witnessing yourself being more cynical, more irritable, and more anxious than normal. Perhaps your children are ‘’acting out’’’, and perhaps you and your spouse are fighting more than usual. This could be due to a normal reaction referred to as ‘’Culture Shock’’, where you and your family members are all trying to adjust to the differences with the host culture. Don’t worry, this will most probably pass!

Moving to a new continent certainly isn’t easy. Try to arm yourself with patience, check in with your own thoughts and emotions, as well as those of your family members. Make time for open and honest communication with your family members. Use your best self-care strategies and try to make time for fun, relaxing and/or meaningful activities for yourself, for you as a couple, and for your family. Try to immerse yourself in your new environment, explore the sights, try new foods and learn the language. Dive in!

If you find that your usual strategies are not useful, that your situation gets worse or that it begins to impact your day-to-day life significantly, reach out for support. We’re here to help!

The recording of our webinar called : ''Adapting to life in Europe'' can be found here.
Ongoing Emotional Support with the Family Information Line

Are you having issues accessing mental health support services due to geographic location or language barriers i n your communities? The Family Information Line (FIL) team is happy to share an important initiative: ongoing emotional support.
Families of military members and veterans are able to seek emotional support with the same FIL team member at a predetermined time using the point of access of their choice: phone or via Webex.
Stephanie and Lisa are experienced team members at the FIL who are currently providing this extended service. If you require emotional support, please do not hesitate to reach them by email at FIL@CAFConnection.ca   or at 00-800-771-17722 . They are looking forward to serving the families together.

If you would like more information on the ongoing emotional support service, click here .
If you are a teen and want to share your story, we have something great for you!

The Canadian Forces Newspapers (CFN) are looking for youth from military families between 13 and 18 who want to report on a story or issue which is important to their life or the community around them. Our readers will then have an opportunity to vote for their favorite story and that reporter will win a grand prize package and a scholarship! To enter, send us your application and story idea that you would like write between October 6 and December 31, 2019. More details on:  CAFconnection.ca/YouthReporter
The RCPO, CFSU(E) has an inventory of work vacancies, posted on the CAF Connection website . Dependents and spouses may browse this website if they are interested in working and submit their applications. As the inventory remains open, applications can be updated as dependents gain new qualifications or find new interests. ​
This inventory is open to dependents of Canadian civilian component and CAF members stationed in Europe. It will be used to staff positions within CFSU(E) locations in Europe and Turkey (Germany, Turkey, Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, Norway and UK). 
For Global Affairs Canada local employment opportunities in Europe click here .
For NATO employment opportunities click here.
For Natex employment opportunitie s   click here .
News from our Centres
Adapt to a new OUTCAN life 
By Véronique Turcotte, Community Services Provider

« Traveling seems like a profitable exercise. The mind has a continual activity to notice unknown and new things, and I do not know of a better school to form life than to constantly bring before our eyes the diversity of so many other lives, opinions, and customs. » (Essais, III, 9) quote from Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) - Translated from French.

I received this quote from a family in Brussels, which explains quite well their standpoint on adapting to their new life.

Moving OUTCAN is an adventure! It is very exciting, but also very destabilizing. We lose all our bearings and we have to rebuild our new life and a new routine very quickly, if we do not want to cross over to the dark side. We must be strong, be ready for anything and not be afraid to try new things. Keep your head high and JUMP, as they say. Sometimes, that is much easier said than done. Here are some tips to help you adapt during this adventure.

Break down isolation and create a new circle of friends.

Staying at home, concentrating on "pampering’’ can be fun for a short time, but in the long run, it's certainly one of the worst things to do. It can bring about depression and cause you difficulty when trying to adapt to your new OUTCAN posting. Here in Brussels, the Canadian community is tight and we are lucky to be able to count on each other. Personally, I was able to quickly develop deep friendships with some people in my new community. In addition, other parents at my children’s school often organize activities such as: coffee mornings, cooking activities and a walking club. The school goes so far as to organize activities for parents to get to know the city of Brussels. Do not be afraid to participate in these kinds of activities – you will be better for having done so.

Become familiar with the various public transportation options.

If I may, when you arrive, ask Military Family Services if someone can help you better understand public transportation options in your area. As access and service can vary greatly depending on where you live, it may be beneficial to speak with someone who uses public transportation frequently. Here in Brussels, Military Family Services have planned a tour, organized by two wonderful volunteers, for newly arrived families. Students are able to have their student pass processed on site and participants learn to use public transportation with confidence when traveling to key locations in Brussels.

Travel as soon as the opportunity arises.

As we travel, we immerse ourselves in the culture of the chosen destination. Our spirit opens up to this exciting journey and we thirst for knowledge; and learning from our travels and sharing our experiences helps us to adapt and connect with European life. Each adventure we embark only increases our desire to plan the next; the good news is in Europe, we have the chance to travel at a much lower price and a shorter distance than if we were living Canada, why not take advantage of it?

So what will be your next trip?
Culture Shock
by Cindy Iburg, previous community member

"Door and their handles, push or pull?
Digging for change when you hear nature call.
Friendly hellos and dismissive shrugs.
Shoes on or off when you cross the rug.
Rules of the road that aren’t what you were taught
Business hours that change, open or not?
The seasons that change in not the same way.
One kiss or two, who is to say?

Culture shock is real but not what you think.
It’s language and culture you say with a wink.
You research, prepare, think you are ready.
Plan your adventure, onward, steady.
But the shock of the move instead hides.
In the tiny things too small to confide.
Beyond notice, insignificant, you can’t possibly explain
The whispered message, the silent refrain
That as you live life, do as you do
The thing that is foreign here is you."
I love being a part of our community
By Christina Raesler, community member

What better way to celebrate communities than a good old fashioned road trip to bring the young, old, new and everything in between together for one day? That’s why I love the tradition of the Newcomer’s Trip. Every year we have had the privilege of a community member taking charge and plan our annual trip to showcase what this beautiful country has to offer.

This year’s Newcomer’s Trip was to the Namur area in Belgium, a little town called Falaën where we boarded some railbikes and trekked along some old abandoned rails to the well-known Maredsous Abbey.

The excitement didn’t just start there though, the morning of the trip we loaded up a double decker bus with kids, teens, couples and singles alike and headed out. I can assure you this wasn’t a normal bus ride as the young kids seemed to take over the back of the bus, teens enjoyed the view from the large window at the front of the bus and adults all seemed to mingle and joke around with those that were near. The organizers surprised us with raffle tickets that had prizes for kids and adults along with trivia games in which we had to text the answers to the OPI. By the way that was a great way to make sure we had the contact info with us before we left the bus! Everyone seemed to be laughing and smiling, we were set to have a great day. Did I mention the sun was shining too?!

The short drive to Falaën was only an hour so it seemed to go by quite fast and before you know it we were unloading the bus and jumping on those railbikes I mentioned earlier. We had a large group of 68 people so you can imagine how much we had to work together to stay organized, load 4 per bike and head on down the rail. This community really came together to make sure the bikes were well balanced between adults, kids and the teens, everyone got to the end safely and in a timely manner. I’ll just say I’m happy my hubby was with me, I didn’t have to pedal, although it didn’t seem too bad if you’re not in a hurry! The railbike ride took us to the bottom of the Abbey where we headed up a wonderful little waking path along a creek, beside a beautiful chalet and up the side of a hill. Once we reached the top we had time to let the kids play at the park while we waited for our tour of the Maredsous Abbey to start.

For those that may not know, Maredsous is known for their beer, cheese and bread and we learned a little about all of them on our tour. The English guide we had was very interactive and kept us all on our toes with questions, we were all a little shy to answer. He told us about Trappist beer and the difference between it and regular brewed beer. He told us about the abbey and the monks that live there and we even got to see a small area they still live in. We found out that the monks would build cathedrals and abbeys based on how the warm or cold wind would blow to protect themselves. Once the tour was finished we were able to sit and sample all of the beer and cheese that Maredsous had to offer while the kids played again and we nibbled on our picnic lunches.

To end our day we walked down the same path to take the rail bikes back to our waiting bus. It was so much fun watching our group saunter together chatting, laughing and having a good time. When we arrived at the rail bikes to take our leisure ride back I could see that there were some good friendships already developing. That right there is the whole purpose of the Newcomer’s Trip and I’d like to say welcome to each and every one of you!
What was it like to move continents...again?
By Kim Esselaar, Community Member

My name is Kim Esselaar and my family just moved from Ottawa to Mons, Belgium in July. This is not my first move to a new continent since I emigrated from South Africa in my teens. This is our first OUTCAN and the buildup was intense. Yes, moving to another country (or even continent) is a stressful endeavour but our family was so excited for this amazing opportunity. The screening paperwork to “DAG Green” was daunting but our family took it in stride and supported each other along the way. When the move finally happened we were a well-oiled machine.

The MFS community has been a saviour. I have participated in many of the MFS activities, including my favourite one so far...household supplies you need for European machines. I was clueless before but feel so much more confident that I won’t destroy the machines and property.

There are SO many outstanding activities to be enjoyed. We have savoured international tastes at SHAPEFEST, as well as Oktoberfest, brewery tours and other community events. We got to experience the Tour de France. As a family we just marched in the 75th Anniversary of Operation SWITCHBACK, including visiting historic battlefields. We have also taken advantage where we are in the world and have traveled to the Netherlands, Tunisia and throughout Belgium. We’ve also had quite a number of family and friends come visit already!

There is a strong network of information sharing, and we found out that there are some job opportunities for spouses that can be applied for. I applied and was selected as the new Bar Supervisor at the Maple Leaf Room (MLR). I love meeting everyone in the community for weekly TGIFs. The food TGIFs are a great party for the whole community, of all ages! My family also enjoys the time we get to know members of the community. We have felt so welcomed by all of the Canadians. 

Our twin teenagers are going to the SHAPE American High School, and they have integrated well into the school’s environment, including extracurricular activities. They have joined sports teams as well as the US Air Force Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (JROTC), which is a phenomenal opportunity for them to learn leadership, teamwork and military skills while also gaining U.S. High School credits for the program. Their favourite activity so far is ceremonial drill where they get to do synchronized rifle-flipping. 

The neighbourhood we moved to is quiet, quaint and filled with people from all over the world. There are Americans, Belgians, British, Canadians, French, Germans, and Norwegians. We feel like we are living in a dream location. The neighbours have gotten together and are very welcoming. In the area we have been able to find almost everything that we needed through the amazing Canada community network. What we couldn’t find readily available we could find at the Commissary or on  Amazon.de .

We are looking forward to more of the amazing activities in the coming year, including TGIFs, sponsored events, and the Chalet Program.

Looking back at the experience thus far, here are my Top 6 Tips for those moving or integrating into OUTCAN life:

  1. Use the community
  2. Lean on your family for support
  3. Be active and take advantage of as many activities as you can manage
  4. Travel
  5. Set up your house as soon as possible so you can enjoy it to the fullest
  6. Always maintain your sense of humour, through the chaos
New in Naples? Me too and it’s looking promissing!
By Rachel Gaulin, Community Services Provider

A new life began this summer for 36 military members and their families who moved to Naples, Italy. To this group we must add the newcomers to Poggio-Renatico, Sigonella, Rome and Milan. And our small team from MFS Naples at the Villa Maple Leaf: Nadia Ottaviano, Maude Barrat and Rachel Gaulin.

So we were all in the same boat, getting to know the place and going through the tedious installation process.

The additional challenge for our team was to become quickly functional in order to be able to offer services and programming. I will not hide the fact that the first two months were a challenge.

We were fortunate, though, to be able to benefit from the preparatory work done by YEP students this summer, supported by Martine Bareil from Communications. It has been greatly helpful for us to have ready-made poster models and an updated inventory for craft supplies. Long live YEP Students!

With the help and guidance of Laura Neafken from PSP, our only point of reference here, we were able to get going. We have now become accustomed to joint efforts from both MFS and PSP for the building of different activities.

Our first real test came upon us very quickly with the traditional welcome BBQ. It was a great success and allowed us to meet the community and informally discuss their expectations.

September, October and here we are in November. We can now say that we have started realizing the projects that we had planed in order to give programming our own personal touch. Including our photo workshops, supported by a community member who is a professional photographer and our Italian coffee-conversation, which will end up being a very useful complement to learning the language. In addition, we have other innovative ideas for the coming year!

The philosophy that drives us is the desire to offer activities with an extra value. We find that our families are very resourceful and active. To keep them interested, you have to offer value-added.

The other motivating factor for us is our other desire to try to highlight all the talents in our community. Whether it be the firefighter from the base showing his trade to children or a musician spouse offering introductory music lessons. We are lucky! As they say in Hollywood: More to come!
My move to Germany
By Hilary Neal, member of the community

I would consider living in Germany a once in a lifetime opportunity and I plan on my spouse, my pup and myself to make the most of it as we are getting the chance to travel to new places, try new things and meet new people.
Touch down
When our feet touched the ground at the Frankfurt airport, we were filled with all sorts of emotions. This was it; we were finally here to stay for the next 4 years. Luckily most of the culture shock was over and done with during our house hunting trip. Our fun began with having no cell service, a rental vehicle with the GPS in German and not understanding road signs. Thankfully we had each other and took our time.

During the first week, I found myself trailing along with my spouse on base getting cleared in and meeting new people. I luckily found myself gravitating towards the Military Family Services (MFS) and what they had to offer. A routine eventually started to form with going to the gym in the morning with my spouse and then Volunteering and keeping busy at the MFS, which made a huge healthy difference in my adjustment to moving to Germany. Going from working 40+ hours a week and having an active social life with friends and friends, to no job and not really knowing anyone was making for a very different lifestyle.
Hotel living
For an unknown length of time we had a hotel booked in the beautiful little town of Hiensburg. The little town has a lively main strip with grocery stores and shopping within walking distance. The hotel was a perfect little place to stay; having everything you needed for day to day living. After three weeks we decided to move ourselves to the City Hotel in Gielenkirchen (where we stayed for our HHT) which gave me a little more freedom to come and go from base, with it being a much closer location. We would highly recommend both hotels- (Great location, friendly people, and appropriate accommodations).                             

New Home
After a week at City Hotel the day had finally come when our house was ready and our belongings had arrived. It was time to start making a house our home and no more living out of a suitcase (which is an experience all on its own). As excited as I was to ready our home, I found out quickly that it will take time and is a process.

If I could give any advice to spouses and members experiencing any posting, it would be to take each day as it comes, get involved in the community, take advantage of the facilities and enjoy meeting people. I’ve found myself having highs and lows adjusting to this new life in Germany and I’m enjoying every minute of it. 
Making the Most of It
By Mackenzie LeVernois, YEP student

This past year was an interesting one, to say the least. My parents and sister were living in Estonia, while I was back in Canada studying at university. I absolutely loved my first year of studies, but observing from a distance as my family travelled around Europe did invoke some jealous tendencies. From a day trip to Finland to a week skiing in Germany, I sat in my dorm room scrolling through my mom’s abundance of family photos on Facebook. So, when my parents asked me if I would be comfortable travelling for Christmas instead of spending my break at home in Estonia, I was quick to say “of course!” with an unmatchable grin on my face!

I had just signed on to spend more time in an airplane and airports than I did sleeping in my own bed, but when you live in Europe and have the chance to travel, you have to make the most of it.

We had the most amazing holiday in Egypt. From scuba diving in Santa hats to visiting tombs and bouncing along in a caravan across the desert, it was a Christmas I will never forget. Although we didn’t have our turkey dinner, or sit in front of the fireplace with the smell of freshly brewed coffee surrounding us, it was by far the best Christmas I have ever had. It is the crazy adventures like these, filled with laughter and memories that make me feel like the luckiest young woman in the world.

At the end of the day, it is not where you celebrate your holidays or how you celebrate them, but who you are with that really counts. Spending Christmas Day lounging on the beach with my parents and splashing in the waves with my sister made me realize it was not what we did or ate that made Christmas so special, but that we were together. As I lay by the pool on the last day of our holiday, I couldn’t stop thinking how grateful I was for my family and the amazing experiences we have had together. Check out some photos below!

When it was time to go, I boarded my first of three planes for my journey back to university and I couldn’t help but think "I hope this is not one of the last times I will be doing a transatlantic flight.” There’s still plenty for me to see and explore but sitting in that plane, listening to the quiet chatter of foreign languages around me, I felt beyond happy and grateful for having made the most of my time in Europe and being able to share these experiences with my wonderful family. 
The Importance of Community
By Eric MacKenzie, Community Services Manager

Fall has arrived, and winter is around the corner. Personally, after spending the last five years in Ottawa, I'm ready for a break of polar vortex winters , even if that means a steady diet of rain in the U.K.

By now, those of you who arrived this past summer are starting to settle into your new normal. You have faced an often overwhelming number of new adjustments, after arriving here. This includes, a new position for our serving members, while a large majority of spouses transition from their former careers in Canada to discovering their new role in U.K.  Plus, all new arrivals face the challenges with a new home and new social lives, while others even deal with new child care plans or schools, etc.

The MFS(E) Posting Cycle of Support is: Prepare, Move, Arrive, Connect, Settle and Thrive. The best way to connect and settle into your OUTCAN experience is to feel like you are part of the community. We have all heard that there is a reason why "unity" is in the word community, since being united and connected to your community is vital to the success of settling and thriving. Regardless of if you have just arrived, if this year marks your halfway point, or if this is your final year, the need to be connected to your community is the same.

MFS(E) is here to help by providing opportunities for you to connect with our U.K. CAF community, through a myriad of programs and services. For example, just last month, families in the greater London community gathered at the Ruislip detachment to share in the Halloween tradition of pumpkin carving, while enjoying a pizza dinner. Our remote families had the opportunity for their children to participate in our pumpkin carving contest.

Other excellent ways to connect with your CAF community is through our monthly tea-time program, child and youth programs, and virtual book club to name a few. MFS(E) also recognizes the unique challenges some of our families have in the U.K., such as being remote, or even being the only CAF member or family in your community. To help, we have virtual programs for you engage in, and you can apply for funding to connect with fellow CAF families in your area to help settle and thrive. MFS(E) also has French services available to ensure that you can stay "connected" with your first language or learn a new skill set.

Again, MFS(E) is here to help you connect and settle during your OUTCAN posting. Please never hesitate to reach out to us for any help or support.
Staying Connected
Visit our
for recordings of virtual sessions
Feeling Social?
 Like us on Facebook to stay informed on programs & resources available to you .
Please be sure to visit our website often for the latest programs and services being offered.
Check out our Virtual Programs Calendar online !
To receive weekly news highlights for and about Canadian military families, check out
News from our Partners
Children's Education Management
In preparation for your return to Canada, do not forget to contact your CEM Educational Advisor who can advise you and help you make the right decision.
Personnel Support Program (PSP)

The PSP Chalet Program offers accommodation options in various parts of Europe at a 40% subsidy by the European Fund. All accommodations are fully furnished and well equipped. The PSP Chalet Program also offers Full-Flex vouchers. The Full Flex vouchers can be used to offset the cost associated with accommodations such as hotel rooms, RV rentals, vacation apartments, as well as cruises. Prizes are awarded in a lottery held twice a year.

Visit our website for more information about the program and the chalets available. You may also contact the Chalet Coordination for more details at +PSPEurope@forces.gc.ca .

Submission for application is now closed. Thank you for all who applied. Successful applicants will be receiving an email from PSP. We wish you all the best!
Provision of Hospital Comforts to European Fund (EF) Members

Are you a European Fund member? Were you or any of your family member hospitalized for more than 48 hrs? We’re here to help! You might be eligible to claim for hospital comfort. Click here for all the details .
Support to EF Families During Spouse's (CAF or civilians) Deployment and CAF member Temporary Duty or Course

Will your spouse be away for TD, deployment or course for more than 30 consecutive days? You might be eligible for reimbursement of € 100 per month to a max of € 600. Click here for all the details .
EF members who are not part of a Unit Fund due to their geographical location are termed Non-Unit Fund (NUF) members. In order to ensure equitability across Formation Europe, NUF members have the same entitlements; however, certain entitlements are managed differently depending on location. For more details on each of these benefits or visit our website at  www.cafconnection.ca/Europe.

For eligibility and information on how to apply, please contact Johanne Thibault at Johanne.Thibault@forces.gc.ca or Jovy Niese at Jovelyn.Niese@forces.gc.ca.