Author Topic: CVA Sit Rep. Two Suicides, CFB Shilo, 26/11/2013  (Read 55370 times)

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Sylvain Chartrand CD

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CVA Sit Rep. Two Suicides, CFB Shilo, 26/11/2013
« on: November 27, 2013, 12:06:53 AM »
CVA Sit Rep. Two Suicides, CFB Shilo, 26/11/47

I cannot express how profoundly saddened I was when my friend Glen Kirkland phoned from Manitoba this afternoon to inform me of his friend’s tragic suicide. We spoke to the need of definitive reforms/improvements at JPSU level to ensure such tragic circumstances are prevented through effective policies. As a consequence of this conversation, we have made this issue the top priority for CVA Director of CF Engagement Barry Westholm, who has extensive knowledge of the t5ransitional process and the needs of the physically and mentally wounded.

Much to my dismay, Glen called this evening to inform there had been another suicide, another serving member going through the transition process. He was pretty shaken up, as was I and I would take the opportunity to express our profound condolences to the families of the fallen who will, at this time, remain unnamed.

And Fallen these two valiant men are!

No, they did not die on the sands of the Panjawaii Valley but they damn well did return to Canada with a wound of the mind that proved fatal.

How can this happen???? Were they not provided the proper diagnosis and effective care, the compassion and timely treatment they deserved? Was the Sacred Obligation the Department of National Defence has for the wounded in transition met, or were they abandoned, helpless, alone, left with no recourse but to seek release from the pain through suicide?

Let us as a nation honour and grieve these men’s sacrifice on behalf of Canada as we have grieved and honoured those who have travelled the Highway of Heroes.

Their sacrifice is no less worthy, the wounds of the mind they incurred in Afghanistan no less fatal than those who were repatriated with life threatening wounds and passed on Canadian soil.

May the Lord welcome our fallen Brothers and bless their families and friends during their period of profound grief.

Michael L Blais CD
President/Founder - Canadian Veterans Advocacy

Barnacle Jones

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Re: CVA Sit Rep. Two Suicides, CFB Shilo, 26/11/2013
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2013, 05:23:10 AM »
This is very sad news.

God bless the fallen soldiers and their families.

These two tragic suicides happen only a few weeks after the CF Ombudsman completed an investigation into potential issues at the Regional JPSU's and their IPSC's.

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CVA Sit rep - Suicide prevention - Director - CF Engagement Barry Westholm
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2013, 09:14:59 AM »
CVA Sit rep - Suicide prevention - Director - CF Engagement Barry Westholm

Hello. my name is Barry Westholm, CD and I have been recreantly appointed by the Canadian Veterans Advocacy as their Director for Canadian Armed Forces Engagement. I'm emailing you to convey the CVA's great concern of a potential development in Joint Personnel Unit (JPSU), Prairie Region where two suicides have been reported and our over all concern of the JPSU. To the current situation, a member of the Canadian Armed Forces has reported that one, then two, suicides have taken place at JPSU Prairie Region. CVA would appreciate this to be confirmed at the earliest, and most respectable time.

Col Blais (Commanding Officer JPSU) who is located in Ottawa is the man to get in touch with of for this matter (gerard.blais@forces.gc.ca) also, you may want to re-phrase the question to "two deaths in the JPSU" vice the term "suicide". The reason, as strange as it sounds, is that "suicide" is a diagnosis which may cause a delay in getting an answer back while death is a non-diagnosis. Attempted suicide is also a defined diagnosis and open to very liberal interpretation - I have witnessed what I would consider attempted suicides, only to be told they were "misuse of prescription drugs and alcohol" but subject matter experts.

The upcoming holiday season can be a particularly tough time of the year for people with Occupational Stress Injuries (OSI's) which include PTSD. While a Sergeant Major with the JPSU, I always sent out a "Warning Order" for my staff to keep close contact with those persons who may be vulnerable. However, as I have indicated in a great many military correspondences, and then blogs, the equation of JPSU posted-in-to-staff has been allowed to bloat to the point where practical oversight is impossible (thus my resignation in protest - see Link: 1). If the situation in JPSU Prairie Region is confirmed, steps must be taken to mitigate copycat actions - something that is a distinct possibility.

I am in contact regularly by JPSU staff who are doing there damnedest to provide support to our injured and ill, but are unable to do so and burning out. In Petawawa they are down to three Section Commanders (these are the people who are directly assigned those posted to the Platoon) for close to 160 injured and ill soldiers - 60 each. I have also been told that recently there has been a sharp drop-off of postings to the JPSU detachment in Petawawa and the speculation is that Unit Commanders don't want to post people to the JPSU anymore giving its manning issues and subsequent negative impact to their troops, which may explain the recent email from medical staff in Petawawa. (see Link: 2).

I also was informed that there will be a Parliamentary Committee going to Garrison Petawawa and will be visiting the JPSU. As the CVA Director for Canadian Armed Forces Engagement, I am available to meet with this committee should they want an unvarnished, concise and accurate assessment of the situation there. I say this because only yesterday, a staff member told me that they were unlikely to say much for fear of their jobs and livelihood. I was further told that despite getting four additional annuitant exception positions, none have been filled - indeed people who have applied have pulled their applications. The reason for this (I was told) was that despite being able to collect their pay as well as pensions, the working conditions at the JPSU are not worth it.

As I write this I have just awoken (2:15 A.M.) for what for me has become a ritual of the macabre given my PTSD - I have been haunted by nightmares ever since 1995 (link: 3). However, I am old and seasoned and have adapted over many years of effort; these young people coming back from Afghanistan, or those just facing PTSD from a former conflict, are not - it is a new and frightening place to be. They deserve proper support and leadership - but they are not getting it - the CVA intends to change this.

Link 1: http://www.scribd.com/doc/172711122/Letter-of-Resignation-Westholm
Link 2: http://www.scribd.com/doc/184222566/Medical-Support-Update-Garrison-Petawawa
Link 3: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/ptsd/Video+Barry+Westholm/9138166/story.html

At this point the situation in JPSU Prairie Region remains officially unconfirmed (to me anyway) and I hope that somehow it is a tragic miscommunication and that there were no suicides there. However, given what I have witnessed and written about the JPSU, this tragedy is very plausible and if it did happen there should be hell to pay.

Summary. The CVA's official stance of the JPSU is still in draft format, but given this situation I will let you know that it is of utmost importance to the CVA that the JPSU be staffed and managed adequately and the CVA considers it tangible component of the sacred obligation to our Veterans. The JPSU is the conduit for injured and ill Veterans to their new lives as civilians, VAC support, and a host of other important resources - it is imperative to the CVA that it is administered with the care it deserves. Those with injuries severe enough for release from the CAF should depart with confidence, security and a sense of accomplishment - they should not be tripped on the way out the door to land flat on their faces, or die before reaching the door. To correct the situation at the JPSU is not difficult, but it is imperative, I hope that the mere spectre of suicides prompts you to aggressive action to support this important Unit.

If I can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to call.

Sergeant Major (Ret'd) Barry Westholm, CD
Director: Canadian Armed Forces Engagement
Canadian Veterans Advocacy
613 587 4203

Sylvain Chartrand CD

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Police investigate after soldiers found dead in Manitoba and Alberta
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2013, 03:12:22 PM »
Police investigate after soldiers found dead in Manitoba and Alberta

By The Canadian Press November 27, 2013 2:01 PM

http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Police+investigate+after+soldiers+found+dead+Manitoba/9219741/story.html

SHILO, Man. - Police are investigating at least one of the deaths of two Canadian Army soldiers this week in Western Canada.

In one case, a soldier posted to CFB Shilo in Manitoba was found dead off the base.

The military says he was a member of 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

An official says RCMP are investigating and it appears that the soldier killed himself.

In the other case, a soldier who had been transferred this summer from CFB Shilo to a reserve unit in Lethbridge, Alta., was found dead.

He was a member of the 20th Independent Field Battery.

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Military suicides "troubling": minister
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2013, 11:43:51 AM »
Military suicides "troubling": minister

at 10:41 on November 28, 2013, EST.

http://www.baytoday.ca/content/news/national/details.asp?c=55216



OTTAWA - Defence Minister Rob Nicholson calls the apparent suicides of two Afghan veterans very troubling, but says the government has increased mental health support to soldiers.

The RCMP are investigating the death Tuesday of soldier at a home just outside Canadian Forces Base Shilo in Manitoba.

Authorities in Alberta are examining the death of reservist, who was found in distress at a correctional centre in Lethbridge and died in hospital on Monday.

Both cases are suspected suicides and Nicholson says nobody wants to see anything like this.

He says he's looking for reports and advice from the military about what the next step might be.

But NDP defence critic Jack Harris says the country is failing its wounded soldiers and pointed to a backlog of 50 incomplete military inquiries into the suicides of members since 2008.

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Lieutenant-General Hainse Addresses Recent Canadian Soldier Deaths (THREE)
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2013, 05:07:59 PM »
November 28, 2013

Lieutenant-General Hainse Addresses Recent Canadian Soldier Deaths

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Nov. 28, 2013) - The loss of a soldier, in any circumstance, is tragic and we mourn with the family and friends of the deceased while the Canadian Army endeavours to support them in their loss.

As the Commander of the Canadian Army, I am disturbed by the loss of three of our soldiers. The Canadian Army cares deeply for each and every member. It goes without saying that we take every death seriously and as such we will explore all facets of these situations to try and learn from them and reduce future occurrences while also providing the best support to the Army family whenever a death does occur.

Note to editors/ News directors:

Contact information:

Canadian Army Headquarters: Captain Denny Brown, Public Affairs Officer, 613-971-7118

---------------

Le 28 novembre 2013
Le lieutenant-général Hainse fait état des récents décès de soldats canadiens
OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - 28 nov. 2013) - La perte d'un soldat, en toute circonstance, est tragique et nous pleurons avec la famille et les amis du défunt tandis que l'Armée canadienne s'efforce de les soutenir dans leur perte.

En tant que le commandant de l'Armée canadienne, je suis troublé par la perte de trois de nos soldats. L'Armée canadienne se préoccupe grandement de chacun de ses membres. Cela va sans dire que nous prenons chaque décès au sérieux et c'est pourquoi nous examinerons tous les aspects de ces situations pour en tirer des leçons et réduire le nombre de cas futurs tout en offrant le meilleur soutien à la famille de l'Armée lorsque survient un décès.

Note aux rédacteurs en chef/chefs des nouvelles :

Coordonnées de la personne-ressource :

Quartier général de l'Armée canadienne : Capitaine Denny Brown, Officier des affaires publiques, 613-971-7118


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A quick look at some facts about suicide in the Canadian Forces
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2013, 08:15:17 PM »
A quick look at some facts about suicide in the Canadian Forces

By The Canadian Press November 28, 2013 7:00 PM

http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/quick+look+some+facts+about+suicide+Canadian+Forces/9225169/story.html

OTTAWA - Some facts about suicide in the Canadian Forces:

— In 2011, the year Canada completed its combat mission in Afghanistan, 22 soldiers committed suicide, says a Forces study from March 2013.

— In 2012, there were 13 suicides, the report said.

— The report dealt only with suicides among members of the regular forces, not reservists, even though many reservists fought in Afghanistan.

— The military says suicides among reservists are generally handled outside the military system.

— A 2011 study by Statistics Canada and the Defence Department found that among soldiers released from the military, the risk of suicide was about one and a half times higher than in the general male population.

— In the United States, 349 active and reserve soldiers killed themselves in 2012, up from 301 in 2011.

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Death of three Afghan veterans highlights military’s failure to conclude investigations into 70 suicides

Defence Minister Rob Nicholson said suicide of threeCanadian Force members "tragedies." Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

http://o.canada.com/news/three-suicides-this-week-highlight-militarys-failure-to-conclude-50-investigations-into-soldier-deaths/



OTTAWA – Questions are being raised about the military’s failure to conclude 70 inquiries into soldier suicides, after three veterans of the war in Afghanistan were found dead in separate incidents this week.

National Defence identified the dead soldiers late Thursday as Warrant Officer Michael McNeil, a 19-year veteran with the Royal Canadian Regiment based out of Canadian Forces Base Petawawa in Ontario; Master Cpl. William Elliott, a decorated veteran with the Princess Patricia’s Light Infantry out of CFB Shilo, Man.; and Master Bombardier Travis Halmrast from the 20th Independent Field Battery in Lethbridge, Ont.

All three served at least one tour in Afghanistan, twice in Elliott’s case.

VIDEO: http://o.canada.com/news/three-suicides-this-week-highlight-militarys-failure-to-conclude-50-investigations-into-soldier-deaths/

The military confirmed McNeil died on Wednesday while Elliott and Halmrast died Monday, though it would not reveal how the soldiers died as investigations are ongoing.

Early media reports, however, have linked the deaths to possible suicide.

“The loss of a soldier, in any circumstance, is tragic and we mourn with the family and friends of the deceased while the Canadian Army endeavours to support them in their loss,” Canadian Army commander Lt.-Gen. Marquis Hainse said in a statement.

“I am disturbed by the loss of three of our soldiers. The Canadian Army cares deeply for each and every member. It goes without saying that we take every death seriously and as such we will explore all facets of these situations to try and learn from them and reduce future occurrences while also providing the best support to the army family whenever a death does occur.”

Defence Minister Rob Nicholson also offered his condolences following a parliamentary committee meeting Thursday, describing the deaths as “tragedies.”

The government recently promised an additional $11.4 million for mental health services for Canadian Forces members, which is in addition to the $38.6 million already spent each year.

VIDEO: http://o.canada.com/news/three-suicides-this-week-highlight-militarys-failure-to-conclude-50-investigations-into-soldier-deaths/

Nicholson indicated his openness to further improvements, saying: “I look forward to what the surgeon-general and what the armed forces indicate to me.”

“Nobody wants to see anything like this, and I look forward to any recommendations or findings.”

But NDP defence critic Jack Harris questioned how National Defence can have any real handle on suicides in the military when dozens of inquiries into military suicides remain unfinished, some of going back to 2008.

Seventy-four military personnel killed themselves between 2008 and 2012, but the government said in May that 50 inquiries were still in progress.

On Thursday, National Defence said the number of outstanding inquiries had risen to 70, including four that were outstanding from 2008 and seven from 2009.

“If the military is not conducting a proper investigation and getting reports prepared and finished into how this happened, why this happened, I don’t have confidence that we’re finding out what’s going on, and putting the measures in place to try and put a stop to it,” Harris said.

Vice chief of defence staff Lt.-Gen. Guy Thibault said the inquiries aren’t necessarily designed to provide all the answers around a suicide, but acknowledged the military is “concerned about the length of time it’s taking to finish them.”

“We really want to make sure that we can deal with these issues in a timely manner for our own purposes to make sure that we understand what happened,” Thibault said.

The three deaths come at a time when the treatment of Canada’s injured soldiers has emerged as a major political and social issue.

There are growing reports of soldiers who were injured in the line of duty, including Afghan vets, being intentionally forced out of the Canadian Forces against their will and without any long-term assistance, sometimes only months before they eligible for a pension.

A Defence Department report also blamed “lag effects” from the mission in Afghanistan for a doubling in the number of soldiers deemed too sick or injured for duty over the past two years, foreshadowing the possibility of further problems.

“We’ve had soldiers who’ve stood up for Canada when we asked them to do that,” Harris said. “We should be standing up for them. And I don’t think we’re doing that enough.”

Suicides in the Canadian Forces in recent years

2012 — 13

2011 — 22

2010 — 12

2009 — 13

2008 — 14

2007 — 10

2006 — 8

— Source: Department of National Defence

lberthiaume(at)postmedia.com

Twitter:/leeberthiaume

Sylvain Chartrand CD

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WO Michael McNeil, who killed himself last week, was “a leader of men”
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2013, 10:55:19 PM »
WO Michael McNeil, who killed himself last week, was “a leader of men”

By Chris Cobb, OTTAWA CITIZEN November 29, 2013

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/health/Warrant+Officer+Michael+McNeil+killed+himself+last+week+leader/9229898/story.html



OTTAWA — “It was a big time shock. He was the last person you’d expect to do that.”

Retired Cpl. John Kendall found out about Warrant Officer Michael McNeil’s Friday morning and during an interview with the Citizen late afternoon said he still couldn’t believe that the seasoned soldier who had helped train him in the art of reconnaissance had taken his own life.

McNeil, in his late 30s, was found in the “shacks” (barracks) at CFB Petawawa where he was on an IP — an imposed restriction, which in his case means he had volunteered to leave his permanent base at CFB Gagetown for a minimum year-long assignment to the base he once called home.

”He was a good guy and a really good instructor,” said Kendall. “He knew his job very well and was all about the army. It was his life and he loved it.

“You could always lean on him for advice because of his experience. He was a good outgoing guy and a typical infantry soldier — a little rough around the edges with a tough guy attitude. But deep down a very good person.”

The Department of National Defence, citing privacy, refused to reveal McNeil’s age, home town or any details about the his death or family. Nor would they provide the Citizen with a photograph of the dead soldier.

It isn’t known whether 19-yeart veteran McNeil had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or any other operational-related mental injury.

He was one of three Canadian soldiers to commit suicide this week.

McNeil joined the military in October 1994 and was a veteran of three operational deployments: Bosnia in 1998, Kosovo in 1999 and Afghanistan in 2009.

According to Kendall, McNeil was the cousin of Frank Mellish, a soldier from PEI who died in a rocket grenade attack during Operation Medusa in Afghanistan in 2006.

Kendall, a PTSD sufferer and Afghan war veteran who retired from the military in November, said much of the “reccy” work in Afghanistan units behind enemy lines and was both dangerous and stressful.

“We’d gather the intel and bring it back so they could develop a plan to do whatever needed to be done,” he said.

Kendall said he owed a lot to McNeil’s guidance.

“He was always willing to help anyone who was willing to learn,” he said, “but I worry that he didn’t have the strong support network that some of us guys need.”

Veterans advocate Barry Westholm, a former Master Warrant Officer who quit the military last year to protest what he said was a breakdown in care for soldiers suffering from PTSD, said the approaching Christmas season is dreaded by troops suffering mental injury.

“When Christmas was coming I always sent out a warning notice for our people to keep a special watch on those most at risk and track them carefully,” said Westholm. a former second-in-command of the eastern regional Joint Personnel Support Unit (JPSU). “We would call them during the day, even the holidays to make sure everything’s fine and they feel wanted.

“A lot of guys with PTSD don’t like going to the base so we’d have a get together off the base in the spirit of the season,” he added. “Even if it was Tim Hortons it didn’t matter so long as they knew someone was thinking of them”.

Westholm, a PTSD sufferer, said Christmas brings “a profound sense of loss.

“PTSD puts you in kind of a box,” he said. “You know what Christmas was like in the past but that has changed dramatically for you. It can be very sad and a depressing time of year when everything, such as financial and marriage problems, gets compounded.”

Chris Dupee, founder of the online help group Military Minds, agreed and said the traffic on his group’s website has been steadily increasing.

Military Minds (www.militarymindsassociation.com) has a public site where people post for all to see and a “back end” where a rotating team of 16 volunteers handle private postings from often desperate soldiers and veterans.

“We’ve been dealing with a lot on the back end — a lot more than we do normally,” said Dupee. “A lot of guys are close to their breaking point at any given time and Christmas holidays can push them over the edge. We noticed an increase a few days back. The messages are piling in — usually they start with ‘I’m f***** and don’t know what to do.’ So we try to engage them in conversation.

“You got the financial situations which are big,” he added, “and going to parties can be detrimental. They are too used to being in their comfort zones and leaving them is scary. Seclusion is a big symptom of PTSD.”

Rtd. Cpl Kendall said his phone has been “ringing off the hook” with calls from his former colleagues at Petawawa — those with WO McNeil in common.

“They didn’t want me to find out in the media,” he said.

The military should be deeply concerned that such a senior leader has committed suicide, said Westholm.

“A warrant officer is a leader of men and when a leader of men does this, it affects everybody.”

ccobb@ottawacitizen.

twitter.com/chrisicobb
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

Sylvain Chartrand CD

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Ex-veteran affairs ombudsman on suicides in the military
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2013, 02:46:47 PM »
Ex-veteran affairs ombudsman on suicides in the military

http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/ID/2421322820/


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Our vets deserve better
« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2013, 06:40:37 PM »
Our vets deserve better

By Shaun Fynes, Ottawa Citizen November 30, 2013 5:40 PM

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/vets+deserve+better/9230884/story.html



Re: Deaths of three Afghan vets raise new concerns, Nov. 30.

As Canadians, we have always had reason to be proud of our military. In Afghanistan our men and women stepped up and acquitted themselves with absolute distinction on the world stage. Canada's contribution, by ratio of troops deployed against population, ranked as the eighth-highest of the fifty nations supporting the NATO/ISAF mission. More remarkable is that when ranked by military spending, as a percentage of GDP, Canada scored at the opposite end of the scale at 120th worldwide. We tied with Latvia, Burkina Faso and Kazakhstan.

Now that most of our troops are back it is deeply disturbing to learn this week of the deaths of yet three more Canadian soldiers on home soil. This news is tragic and is evidence that there were no lessons learned from the loss of our son to suicide in 2008.

Despite the constantly recycled Media Response Lines which suggest supposed goldplated medical care for ill or injured soldiers, our government, and by extension our military, have not yet made prevention of soldier suicide a priority.

We hear that the medical system is doing more, providing more. I would absolutely hope so, but the burgeoning rates of Operational Stress Injuries have far outstripped the military's efforts to assist these injured soldiers. In Afghanistan our men and women, by any standard, did more with less. Our troops went whenever and wherever they were sent, and they always gave their best. Now they are deserving of our best efforts.

Research is showing brain scan evidence of physical damage to the brain in sufferers of PTSD. This is a bona fide injury! Why then are any of our troops still made to feel a very "real" stigma in seeking help? I have heard it said that putting your hand up for help is akin to putting one foot towards the exit door. Why is our government reluctant or unwilling to offer them full and complete medical and financial support? I am left to wonder if the answer is simply to be found in accounting ledgers. We have funding for massive military procurements so there must be a little more in there somewhere that could be redirected to take care of our most important asset of all - our troops!

Just as it is cheaper to service or repair a car than to discard and replace it, I am sure we would save many millions of dollars in recruitment and training costs by helping injured veterans rather than replacing them. The "human" cost cannot be measured and soldiers do not somehow become arbitrarily disposable. If supported, many can and will become stronger for having been tested and then made whole again.

The clichéd definition of insanity is to do something repeatedly and expect a different result. We need now to be doing something differently. We cannot continue to lose our men and women to suicide. I am quite certain other families would agree with me when I suggest to Defence Minister Rob Nicholson and Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino it is just not good enough to offer up condolences instead of treatment and support.

I am proud of Canada's tradition as a peacekeeper nation but I am becoming ashamed of those who fail to help our injured soldiers. The failure to provide better treatment for the injured is nothing short of a betrayal.

Our condolences to the families of all the fallen.

Shaun Fynes, Victoria, B.C.

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

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Suicides Among Reservists Not Included in Canadian Forces Data
« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2013, 08:38:15 AM »
Suicides Among Reservists Not Included in Canadian Forces Data

November 30, 2013. 1:53 pm • Section: Defence Watch

Article from the Canadian Press:

OTTAWA – Despite the suicides of three Afghan war veterans this week, a military psychiatrist says there has not been a recent increase in suicide rates among Canadian Forces members.

But the numbers of soldiers dealing with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder are expected to rise within the next decade as the stress of combat takes hold in those who have returned from the fighting in Afghanistan, Col. Rakesh Jetly said Friday.

That is a troubling prospect as the military grapples with the latest rash of suicides, which are shining a spotlight on the programs the military has available for dealing with cases of PTSD.

Critics have also questioned how the Canadian Forces tracks suicides among its members, and whether the numbers paint an accurate picture.

The military doesn’t include suicides among reservists in the data, even though it keeps tabs on them, leading to speculation that the actual rates may be much higher.

“We track them, we have them, we do investigate. If a Class B reservist (completes a suicide) we’ll do an investigation there as well.” Jetly told a teleconference Friday.

“The problem is, it’s been very, very difficult for us within the organization to actually accurately capture reservists,” he explained.

“We’re just afraid that if we just sort of start trying to tabulate them that the numbers will be misleading.”

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'Cumbersome' red tape creating care shortage for Canada's soldiers:
« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2013, 01:12:16 PM »
'Cumbersome' red tape creating care shortage for Canada's soldiers: watchdog

VIDEO : http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/cumbersome-red-tape-creating-care-shortage-for-canada-s-soldiers-watchdog-1.1568991#ixzz2mFhygoW9

Daniel Bitonti, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, December 1, 2013 11:00AM EST

Canada's military watchdog says bureaucratic red tape is partly to blame for a shortage of medical professionals needed to help care for soldiers and veterans struggling with mental health issues.

The comments come as new concerns are being raised about access to treatment, with three Canadian soldiers allegedly committing suicide in the past week and a top military psychiatrist warning about a "steady" increase in the number of Afghan vets coming forward with mental health needs.

Pierre Daigle, ombudsman for National Defence and the Canadian Forces, said the military is currently facing a 15-20 per cent shortage when it comes to the number of mental health professionals serving Canada's current and former soldiers.

He said there are currently 76 qualified professionals that could be hired tomorrow, but they have remained in the candidate pool because of a "cumbersome" and slow-moving hiring process.

"I'm very concerned about that," he told CTV's Question Period. "Because those 76 could be brought into the system tomorrow and help alleviate the shortage … And if you wait too long, those candidates might leave and there will be further delays."

Daigle said that shortage sometimes forces military personnel to seek help outside the community, often from non-military professionals who might not be as familiar with how to deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

He said another problem plaguing the Canadian Forces is its inability to create an adequate database to track mental health issues among its members.

"If you don't know the exact scope, you cannot define the problem," Daigle said. "It's very difficult to assign the right resources to the right places in the right proportion."

The issue of mental health and the military was thrust back into the spotlight this week as the Canadian Forces confirmed the deaths of three soldiers who served in Afghanistan.

And according to one military doctor, the number of veterans with mental health issues is likely to spike in the coming years.

Speaking to CTV'S Question Period, Defence Minister Rob Nicholson called the mental health of Canada's soldiers an "institutional priority."

"When we know or hear about individuals suffering from depression or hurting in some way, we all have to reach out to those individuals," he said, adding that the government has invested heavily in helping military personnel with mental health issues.

The Conservative government last year gave the Canadian Forces an additional $11.4 million to improve access to treatment among members and veterans.

Nicholson also said the government is attempting to "speed up" the review process when it comes to suicide within the ranks of the armed forces. There remains a backlog of about 50 investigations.

Nicholson added that the military is investigating the most-recent deaths.

According to the latest Defence Department figures, 22 full-time soldiers died of suicide in 2011, and 13 in 2012

Nicholson says 106 Canadian military personal have committed suicide since 2008.

With a report from CTV's Richard Madan and files from The Canadian Press

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/cumbersome-red-tape-creating-care-shortage-for-canada-s-soldiers-watchdog-1.1568991#ixzz2mFiEC5d5

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Randy
Dec. 1, 2013
1:54 PM
Abuse

At a time when they are cutting funding to the military such that offices are now returning to making botched photocopies into note pads, cutting training and travel and deeply slashing the number of postings just to make ends meet...what makes anyone think that 11.4 million is going to make a difference? Especially when both DND and DVA is being hit by the same standard budget cuts. Just this year alone $2.4 BILLION cut from DND and over 200 staff were cut from DVA ($500 million and 500 staff in 2012). What makes anyone think that $11.4 million put into the system this year is going to make one bit of difference?

Janet Hudgins
Dec. 1, 2013
1:34 PM
Abuse

The minister is pretty casual about the care of soldiers and his government's responsibility for it. He says there have been 103 suicides since the Harper government has been in power. That's extraordinary! Over 15 a year, more than one a month. They have kept it quiet all this time, now the public is finding out about it, so Nicholson et al are just starting to think about maybe they should help vets?

Liberty1
Dec. 1, 2013
1:26 PM
Abuse

I agree wholeheartedly with "Tired of smoke and mirrors".....It certainly was hurtful to the vets to loss this guy, he not only knew how to fight the good fight, but knew how to fight for the vets of this country! The new Charter was flawed, but Harper could, and should have had it (revised) The government has erred in losing this man, he had the public trust of the vets and soldiers alike, but that is not how government works when seeking to save money instead of seeking to save face at the expense of our vets.

Tired of the smoke and mirrors
Dec. 1, 2013
11:51 AM
Abuse

The fact that this minister stated that veterans and the Dept of Veteran's Affairs are one family is a clear indication of how out of touch he is with Veterans. Of course the Dept of Veteran Affairs will claim the same, since they should be, but reality is much different. Ask the veterans themselves; they are quick to state that the Dept of Veteran Affairs is full of red tape, and many believe this red tape was put in place so claims would be denied and most injured vets would not have the heart to go through the red tape battle a second time in the appeals process. Many vets felt like the system was set up to deny all claims on the first application, or low ball the vet about 50% of what he deserved. Now they have created the New Veteran's Charter, and claim vets love this new improved charter. In fact any Vet with the knowledge of the old system is quick to realize they are only getting about 25% of the benefits of a vet injured in 2005 and previous years. The Dept of Veteran Affairs has not been taking care of our vets, they have ben throwing them under the bus, while telling/selling the Canadian public how they care for our vets. If Mr Harper cared for our Vets, he would put retired ombudsman Pat Strogan in charge of Veteran's Affairs, a man who cared. May these three families find some peace in the passing of these three Canadian heroes.

Ivan
Dec. 1, 2013
11:43 AM
Abuse

Something that benefits MPs, Senators, or their rich corporate friends - decide in a few days/weeks. Something that's needed for a group like veterans? Tied up in delays and red tape for years.

Carlos Roberto
Dec. 1, 2013
11:43 AM
Abuse

I suspect that the 11.4 million dollars went to build the bureaucratic morass that these soldiers face when they are seeking help, i.e. build empires in the organization at the expense of those who need help. Simplify procedures and reduce the number of bureaucrats and staff! Shameful!!!!

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/cumbersome-red-tape-creating-care-shortage-for-canada-s-soldiers-watchdog-1.1568991#ixzz2mFiJioM4

Sylvain Chartrand CD

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Recent tragedies don’t mean suicide is on the rise, military mental-health adviser says

GLORIA GALLOWAY and JOSH WINGROVE

OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail

Published Wednesday, Dec. 04 2013, 3:06 PM EST

Last updated Wednesday, Dec. 04 2013, 3:16 PM EST

The Canadian military is dealing with another potential suicide – the loss of the fourth soldier in just over a week.

But Colonel Rakesh Jetly, a senior psychiatrist and mental health adviser to the Canadian Forces Surgeon-General, says the spate of tragedies does not mean the rate of suicides within the military is on the rise.

“I think it’s extremely tragic,” Col. Jetly said Wedensday in an interview with The Globe and Mail after the body of Master Corporal Sylvain Lelièvre was found at Garrison Valcartier in Quebec. The cause of death has not been determined but suicide seems likely.

Last Thursday, the military announced the death of Warrant Officer Michael McNeil at CFB Petawawa, northwest of Ottawa. Three days earlier, Master Corporal William Elliott and Master Bombardier Travis Halmrast died in separate incidents in western Canada. All are presumed to have been suicides and all of the men had completed at least one tour of Afghanistan.

Col. Jetly said the fact that the four soldiers who have spent time in a combat zone were found dead over such a short span of time could simply be “tragic coincidence.” Or, he said, there could have been “contagion” – the media coverage of the first two deaths might have triggered the third or the fourth, or both.

So right now the military is redoubling its efforts to find those members of the forces who are coping with their own mental issues, said Col. Jetley. “We comfort the patients who are in care, we encourage any people who are struggling with what’s occurred or anything else to come forward for care,” he said.. “And as a genuinely caring organization, that’s all we can do.”

The colonel said he does not like to discuss numbers because, when he points that those within the ranks of the Canadian military are less likely to kill themselves than people in the general population, it gives the incorrect impression that the military does not understand suicide is a problem.

“We want to prevent suicides,” said Col. Jetly. But “it really comes down to people not coping well with what’s happening around them, largely because of mental illness. Then they face a crisis. And, in the face of that crisis, they feel hopeless, that there’s no way past it, whether it’s a relationship breakup, that kind of thing. So, rather that reaching out for help, they choose to make this tragic choice.”

Jim Karygiannis, the Liberal critic for veterans’ affairs, was emotional when discussing the recent suicides.

“This government is not stepping up to the plate in order to address the issue,” Mr. Karygiannis said after his party’s caucus meeting Wednesday. “A lot of military personnel are scared to come forward, as I am told,” he said. “We need to change the culture, especially in the Veterans Affairs department.”

Conservative MP Laurie Hawn, an Air Force veteran himself who serves on the veterans’ affairs committee, said that, when three or four deaths like this occur in a row, it focuses attention. But the government, said Mr. Hawn, has “virtually doubled the number of mental health care professionals in [the defence department], or Veterans Affairs. The key issue is getting people into treatment.”