Making our community a better place!


Soldiers Helping Soldiers is pleased to announce the opening of Top Cover, a veterans only drop in centre. Top Cover is located on the first floor of the Ottawa Freedom Center at 265 Montreal Road in Vanier (Ottawa). The purpose of Top Cover is to provide a safe, comfortable, and welcoming environment for any and all homeless veterans in Ottawa to gather and connect with other veterans.

Top Cover will be open Thursdays from 1030 – 1800 hrs. Staff will be on site providing information resources, carte routiere, for clients. Stop on by for a coffee and a snack and speak with our volunteers.

“Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I will understand” Confucius

Soldiers Helping Soldiers (SHS) is a volunteer activity, developed through the initiative of serving personnel, which seeks to connect homeless veterans and/or veterans or serving members not yet, but on a trajectory to be, homeless with the services and benefits to which they are entitled.

SHS is founded on two distinct but linked ideals:

The guiding premise is that those in need / at risk are inclined to self-identify to serving members who they encounter volunteering at missions, shelters, food banks, etc., and that those serving-member volunteers in turn facilitate the connection of those in need to the appropriate sources of support for their housing, health or other needs.


Evidence shows that some military personnel can, and do, slip through the cracks in the social support services at all levels, as serving members and after they leave the service. There is no systematic, national action to identify how (and how many) veterans do not make a successful transition from their military careers to healthy, productive civilian lives, nor how many serving members and their families are at risk. While the underlying causes are unique to each individual, they certainly include:

• reticence in self-identifying;
• inability to understand what services/benefits are available and how to access them
• loss of a defined place in a defined structure.

Our Mission

Build a network with local support service providers/representatives (eg; VAC, RCL, MFRC, municipal services, regimental/branch associations, messes, benevolent funds, …) such that all volunteers are able to provide cogent information on each source of support to those who seek it

Develop, in discussion with the locations, and with local police/emergency services where applicable, Rules of Engagement which balance the intent to elicit self-identification while keeping volunteers safe.

How we accomplish our mission


SHS volunteers attend selected locations in uniform (or otherwise identifiable as serving members) with the intent of facilitating engagement and self-identification from the target audiences. Key individual actions during these volunteer sessions are awareness and willingness to listen. During any engagement, volunteers attempt to assess the individual’s situation, and whether any of the available network services can be brought to bear to assist his/her situation. Where possible the volunteer team at each location should be supported by team members that the vets will be able to readily identify – a Sgt Major, a Padre, and at least one clerk to assist anyone who is ready to fill in forms.


Follow-up action can include

• directing the vets to specific service providers within the local support network,
• facilitating attendance at appointments/interviews,
• assistance in making connection(s) and
• assistance in completing requisite paperwork.

which may be concluded on-site or at a later engagement (bearing in mind the safety and security of the volunteers)

The scope of any follow-up action needs to be guided by locally-developed Rules of Engagement, built to reflect the locally-available services and individual safety. Be prepared to share best practices with other SHS initiatives.

About Us

A message from our founder

This month marks the one year anniversary of Soldiers Helping Soldiers volunteer activities in the National Capital Region, as well as the start up of three Regional offshoots (Montreal, Valcartier and Calgary). We have grown from supporting two local soup kitchens to a total of five local agencies and formed a strong alliance with the Ottawa Police Services and Military Family Resource Centre. All told, we have established our self as a formidable presence identifying over 100 CF and allied veterans in the National Capital Region, with 60 choosing to complete the paperwork and 17 plus no longer living on the street.

This achievement, like all successes, is the work of a team. The hardworking and dedicated Soldiers Helping Soldiers volunteers do everything from preparing and serving meals, massive cleaning projects, joint community service ventures such as Clean Up the Capital, packaging up food stuffs at the food bank, performing police walk along patrols, assisting at the drop in centre, attending meetings, designing leaflets and web pages, offering a listening ear and encouraging words and, most importantly, assisting in completing Royal Canadian Legion and Veterans Affairs paperwork.

I am constantly in awe of what the volunteers do and accomplish. Not just with the homeless and nearly homeless veterans, but with all the clients. Their compassion and willingness to work hard reach out to everyone we meet and move this initiative forward through hard work, determination, sacrifice of their own time and complete dedication. This exemplifies what makes a Canadian Armed Forces soldier and Department of National Defence employee truly the best in the world. I could not be prouder of all our volunteers have accomplished and wait to be inspired anew by their initiative and successes.

Soldiers Helping Soldiers continues to grow and attract new partners in our efforts to find homeless and nearly homeless veterans, such as Send up the Count, another great grass roots initiative. We are not a charity, we do not collect funds, we are not political. We serve our community through activities in support of the homeless and are just as satisfied if we do not find one of our own who has lost their way, but are elated when we do because we can offer hope, understanding, and access to programs and services to assist them and their families. There is a need for what we do – current projections say 26% of the homeless in Canada are Canadian Armed Forces veterans and their families. We do not do this for recognition. We do this because we can. We do this because we understand that it could have been any of us out on the street if we had made similar choices or gone through what these men and women did.

It is our sincere hope that we will someday have regional offshoots in every province in Canada, staffed by serving and former members of the Canadian Armed Forces and Department of National Defence employees. Should you feel up to the task, please contact me through the Soldiers Helping Soldiers email to discuss.

Victoria Ryan
26 March 2014


The Ottawa Mission

The Ottawa Mission
35 Waller Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1N 7G4

Telephone : 613-234-1144
Fax : 613-234-2813

The Shepherds of Good Hope

The Shepherds of Good Hope
233 Murray Street
Ottawa Ontario
K1N 5M9

Telephone : 613-789-8210
Fax : 613-789-0888

Support Our Troops Program

Support Our Troops Program
4210 Labelle Street
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0K2


Veterans’ Affairs Canada

Royal Canadian Legion


Solider Helping Soldiers General Inquiries

NCR Chapter Lead

Top Cover
To donate or general information about the drop in center.

To volunteer with SHS in the National Capital Region.

Volunteer Training

Communications and IT
For feedback regarding the website and social media.

SHS Facebook Group


Veterans Bill of Rights

Veterans Review and Appeal Board

Badge of Life Canada

PTSD/OSI & the Canada Revenue Disability Tax Credit

Wounded Warriors

Send Up the Count (Facebook Group)

The Mesothelioma Center (US)

Soldiers Helping Soldiers
265 Montréal Road, Ottawa, Ontario K1L 6C2, Canada