The Canadian government will set up eight support centres across the country to offer help to former and current members of the military and their families, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Monday.

The centres, spread across seven provinces, will be set up in the next few months, the Department of National Defence said in a news release.

Each centre will function as a type of one-stop shop where members of the military and their families can seek medical attention, counselling and help on the transition to civilian life, among other services. They'll also offer help to the families of military personnel who died.

"Whether returning to military life or exploring a new civilian career, these members and their families will receive the assistance they need," said MacKay, speaking at a news conference in Halifax.

Plan aims to keep recovering soldiers close to families

MacKay told reporters that the centres are being set up in order to address gaps in the system when it comes to looking after soldiers in need of physical or emotional support.

The Defence Department said the plan "recognizes that people heal better and faster when they are close to their family and their social support network."

Veteran's Affairs Minister Greg Thompson said in Ottawa that the centres will provide efficient, co-ordinated service to those who need it.

The so-called "integrated personnel support centres" will operate under a single Canadian Forces unit based in Ottawa that will co-ordinate the offered programs.

Centres will be located in Vancouver, Edmonton, Shilo, Man., Toronto, Petawawa, Ont., Valcartier, Que., Gagetown, N.B., and Halifax.

Monday's announcement comes as the Canadian military mission in Afghanistan enters its seventh year. Since the mission there began in Feb. 2002, 108 soldiers have been killed. There are about 2,500 soldiers currently serving in Afghanistan, mostly in the volatile southern province of Kandahar.

With files from the Canadian Press