Author Topic: CVA Sit Rep. Two Suicides, CFB Shilo, 26/11/2013  (Read 55369 times)

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Sylvain Chartrand CD

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Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau on PTSD
« Reply #15 on: December 04, 2013, 06:57:32 PM »
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says Canada needs to do better when it comes to helping returning soldiers who may have post-traumatic stress. Trudeau's comments come after the fourth suicide by a Canadian soldier in two weeks.

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Calls grow for more government aid after fourth soldier suicide in a week
« Reply #16 on: December 04, 2013, 10:02:09 PM »
Calls grow for more government aid after fourth soldier suicide in a week Staff
Published Wednesday, December 4, 2013 12:18PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 4, 2013 10:24PM EST


The chorus of voices calling for more government aid in support of soldiers and veterans is growing as army officials confirmed the death of a soldier as the fourth apparent military suicide in a week.

The Canadian Forces said an investigation is underway into the death of a soldier at CFB Valcartier in Quebec. The soldier -- 46-year-old Sylvain Lelievre -- was reportedly a member of the Royal 22e Regiment.

Last week, the apparent suicides of three other Canadian soldiers raised questions about the services and care offered to troubled soldiers and veterans.

Warrant officer Michael McNeil died last Wednesday at the Canadian Forces Base Petawawa in Ontario. Earlier in the week, Master Cpl. William Elliott died at his home just outside CFB Shilo in Manitoba, while Master Bombardier Travis Halmrast died in Lethbridge, Alta., following a suicide attempt at a corrections facility.

The deaths prompted a response from Canada’s top general, Chief of Defence Staff Tom Lawson, who said in a statement Wednesday that “any, each, and every suicide is a tragedy, and the loss of any soldier is painful and heartbreaking to our men, women and families.

“As you’re already aware, we each have a role to serve in identifying and assisting those affected by mental health concerns,” he said, encouraging soldiers who are struggling to seek help immediately.

“Don’t underestimate the direct, positive impact you can have as a leader, as a friend, or as a subordinate. We can all note changes in behaviour, we can all listen to each other, and we can all aid in seeking help,” Lawson said.

In question period Wednesday, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair called news of the deaths “troubling” and asked the Conservatives what they’re doing “to address this tragic situation.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said it’s everyone’s “responsibility to encourage” those who need support to seek help from programs already in place.

“Those supports are available and of course, we will make sure they will continue to be available,” he said.

NDP MP Peter Stoffer said one of the biggest problems facing military personnel is that when they come forward with a problem “the clock ticks” toward the termination of their military career.

“Will the minister now today rethink the universality of service to allow the men and women who do come forward to stay in the military until they receive all of the psychological, rehabilitation and educational opportunities and then transfer over to another career?”

Defence Minister Rob Nicholson said “every possible accommodation” is made to ensure that soldiers receive access to services and are kept in the forces.

“The chief of defence staff and the chief of military personnel have assured me that members of the Canadian Armed Forces are not released until they are prepared for that transition,” he said.

Earlier Wednesday, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau called the situation for the soldiers “extremely tragic” and said that, as it stands, the government is not doing enough for veterans and their families.

‘We need to know how many are sick’

Veterans’ advocates are warning government officials that the four deaths are part of a much more pervasive problem affecting personnel returning from combat, many of whom may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in silence.

Canadian Forces ombudsman Pierre Daigle told CTV’s Power Play Wednesday said the stigma of mental illness has diminished over the past decade. However, many soldiers are still afraid to come forward and admit they are suffering because “they are afraid for their career.”

“We need to know how many of them are sick out there. There is no national database yet that tells the system how many people are suffering, because some don’t come forward, some don’t reply to the right questionnaire and so on,” Daigle said.

“So unless you know how many you have, what’s the scope of your problem, you can’t prioritize your resources in the right place.”

Daigle also said that there are 76 mental health care providers who have been screened and are ready to treat military members, but “because of some kind of bureaucratic complexity, they’re still not in the system.”

Sen. Romeo Dallaire said while improvements have been made in mental health programs for soldiers in the last 15 years, there is still data missing, including information about the thousands of reservists scattered across the country.

“The question is, how affected are we and by-the-by now that the shooting has stopped, are the budgets going to stay there and are we still putting the same interest in it?” Dallaire told Power Play.

Dallaire said post-traumatic stress disorder is an injury that can become “terminal,” and soldiers must be able to access therapists and a peer-support network in order to cope.

He said it is crucial that soldiers find a peer “who’s lived it,” and talk through their pain together.

“Secondly, you’ve got to remember you are never alone. One of the dangers of this thing is that you end up not being able to explain to people. You’re keeping all that in yourself and you just continue to internally hemorrhage and you feel as if you’re the only one on earth that’s crashing like this and you might as well get rid of it because no one really understands you.”

He acknowledged, however, that it’s difficult for many soldiers to come forward.

“Expecting guys to appear just because they’re hurting, in a Darwinian outfit like the military, that’s still something we’re working on.”

Dallaire had apologized Tuesday after falling asleep at the wheel of his car and crashing into a barrier on Parliament Hill. The retired general said news of last week’s soldier deaths, coupled with the coming 20th anniversary of the genocide, has left him unable to sleep, even with medication.

Dallaire has documented and spoken publicly about his battle with depression in the years following his return from Rwanda.

The recent soldier deaths have prompted others to share their stories, including Private Leah Greene, who told CTV News she considered suicide after sustaining an injury four years ago.

While she never served in combat, Greene says the military ignored her cries for help.

Anxious and depressed, she recently went AWOL and is now hiding in Ottawa.

“I feel that when I got injured it was the death of a service member,” she said, “I was no longer part of anything.”

On Wednesday, Justice Minister Peter MacKay said news of the Quebec soldier’s death is heart-wrenching.

"It's absolutely heartbreaking and troubling in the extreme that anyone, soldiers in particular, find themselves in a position that they see no hope and take their own lives," MacKay said, speaking on his way into the weekly Conservative caucus meeting in Ottawa.

He said the federal government is doing what it can to provide support to soldiers returning from combat in Afghanistan, and that more support is coming.

“We’re been preparing for the increase in stress because of the Afghanistan mission by putting in place these joint personnel support units,” he said.

For his part, Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino breezed past reporters after the Tory caucus, refusing to answer questions on the topic of the recent deaths.

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

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Top Canadian general urges troops to get help
« Reply #17 on: December 04, 2013, 10:18:50 PM »
Top Canadian general urges troops to get help

Spate of possible suicides prompts Prime Minister Stephen Harper and top general to appeal to soldiers to get help for mental health issues

By: Bruce Campion-Smith Ottawa Bureau, Published on Wed Dec 04 2013

OTTAWA—Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Canada’s top general are appealing to troubled soldiers to seek help after a spate of possible suicides has left the military reeling.

Speaking in the Commons Wednesday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the government has made investments to help soldiers cope.

“But the most important thing is that we all understand how difficult the experiences are that our military personnel have had to endure. These are very difficult, stressful situations and we need to keep encouraging our forces members to seek out the help they need,” Harper said.

Gen. Tom Lawson, the chief of defence staff, issued his own appeal to military personnel to seek out help.

“For those of you currently combating mental illness, don’t avoid or delay accessing support services and treatment,” Lawson said in a statement.

“Just as you would expect to be helped by your colleagues on the battlefield if you were physically injured, your brothers and sisters in arms are with you in the fight against mental illness.”

Military members and their families can get assistance at base clinics on base, or by calling the military assistance program at 1-800-268-7708. “Reach out to your friends, family members, leaders, padres and medical professionals for support,” Lawson said.

But the military is facing tough questions about the help it provides its troops after news Wednesday that military police officers were investigating the possible suicide of Master Cpl. Sylvain Lelièvre, 46, of the Royal 22nd Regiment, at Garrison Valcartier in Quebec.

A 27-year veteran of the armed forces, Lelièvre had deployed twice to Bosnia and once to Kandahar, in 2010-2011. He was found in the basement of his home on the base, according to the website

Friend Nancy Guillemette offered condolences on her Facebook page.

“I will miss you greatly . . . my pain is heavy this morning and my thoughts are with your son Jonathan and all your families . . . RIP I remember,” she wrote.

Lelièvre is the fourth possible suicide among the uniformed ranks in just over a week, a troubling reminder that the legacy of Canada’s Afghanistan mission continues to take a toll on the men and women who served there.

The trouble in the ranks comes as bureaucratic delays have stalled plans by Canada’s military to hire 76 additional mental health experts to help soldiers who are suffering deal with the fall-out of their overseas deployments.

A frustrated Pierre Daigle, the defence department ombudsman, said it’s “bizarre” that the defence department can’t get the new staff in place even as it grapples with a troubling spike in soldier suicides.

“The minister agreed to give millions of dollars to increase the number of mental health providers. There are people there but they’re not being brought in. It’s a frustration,” Daigle told the Star in an interview.

The department has the cash to hire the health experts but the plan has stalled because there is a cap on staffing within the health services division, meaning the new employees can be hired only if vacancies open up, a source told the Star.

The new hires — all screened and ready to go — are meant to boost a mental health service that Daigle has said is “seriously overburdened.”

While the Afghan mission is in its final stages — soldiers will be home from Kabul early next year — the military will be dealing with the fall-out for years to come as stress disorders can take months, even years to appear.

Retired colonel Michel Drapeau said the four recent deaths are a “wake-up.” The military reported 121 suicides among military personnel between 2002 and 2012.

But Drapeau warned that the military — and the Canadian public — may be in the dark about the true extent of the problem.

“We really don’t know the full extent of it. Some of them commit suicide a month, or six months or two years after they leave the military. They are not counted as part of the casualties of war,” he said.

Drapeau, now an Ottawa lawyer, represented the family of Cpl. Stuart Langridge, an Afghan veteran who committed suicide in 2008.

“What to do? I don’t think doing what we do now is sufficient. We have a national issue that we need to address,” he said.

That includes a more proactive approach to identity soldiers who may be quietly struggling with PTSD or other stress disorders, he said.

While improvements have been made, Daigle has repeatedly warned that big gaps remain in the department’s ability to care for the mental health of military personnel.

In a September 2012 report Daigle noted the forces’ mental health-care system was suffering “significant shortcomings, which are seriously affecting the care and support provided to those suffering an operational mental health injury.”

On Wednesday, Daigle said that extra resources need to be found to ensure there is timely help for the soldiers who need it. “They’re world renowned, professional troops, they come back and then some of them are still fighting their war with a tragic end,” Daigle said.

Quick facts

In addition to Lelièvre, the deaths of three other soldiers are under investigation:

Warrant Officer Michael McNeil, 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, at CFB Petawawa, on Nov. 27, 2013. McNeil joined the military in 1994 and had served three tours abroad in Bosnia (1998), Kosovo (1999) and Afghanistan (2009).

Master Cpl. William Elliott, 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, near CFB Shilo, on Nov. 25, 2013. Elliott joined the military in 1999 and did four tours of duty, twice to Bosnia, in 2000 and 2003 and twice to Afghanistan in 2006 and 2009. He was a decorated combat veteran.

Master Bombardier Travis Halmrast, 20th Independent Field Battery in Lethbridge, Alta., on Nov. 25, 2013. He joined the reserves in 2003 and deployed to Afghanistan in 2009. He transferred to the regular force in 2010.

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Vets need to know they can find help for PTSD: soldier's brother
« Reply #18 on: December 05, 2013, 11:01:55 AM »
Vets need to know they can find help for PTSD: soldier's brother

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Published Thursday, December 5, 2013 11:56AM AST
Last Updated Thursday, December 5, 2013 12:55PM AST

TRURO, N.S. -- The younger brother of a soldier whose death has raised questions about the Canadian military's treatment of those with post-traumatic stress disorder says members of the military need to know help is available if they are suffering.

Speaking before Warrant Officer Michael McNeil's funeral Thursday, Kevin McNeil said PTSD is a problem that is not going to stop, but the risks can be minimized.

"The most we can do is maybe slow it down," McNeil said outside the armoury in Truro, N.S.

"As much money as government is going to pour into this, it's not going to stop. What we can do is make more people aware, more families going through the same thing we are going through to talk to these soldiers, know their jobs aren't in jeopardy and we're here for them."

McNeil's death at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa, northwest of Ottawa, is among four recent suicides in the military.

The Armed Forces acknowledges it will be dealing with an increased number of PTSD cases in the next decade as the stress of combat takes hold in those who have returned from the fighting in Afghanistan.

McNeil, 39, was a member 3rd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper weighed in on the issue on Wednesday, saying everyone should encourage veterans in need to reach out to the systems that are there to help.

McNeil said he wants his brother remembered as a family man first and secondly as a hero to his country.

"He gave everything to his country," he said. "He was a strong man and will be missed forever."

McNeil's coffin was carried into the armoury by an honour guard made up of McNeil's comrades in the Royal Canadian Regiment, assisted by his brother Kevin and cousin Tim McNeil.

During the funeral service, Lt. Kendra Mellish, the widow of Warrant Officer Frank Mellish, a soldier killed in Afghanistan in September 2006, gave a reflection on her friend.

She said after her husband died, McNeil helped care for her children and would meet her when she came back from tours.

"Only seven short years ago, he was in this same position, paying homage to his friend (Frank)," she said.

She offered comfort to McNeil's two daughters, one son and one stepson.

"Be proud of the hero he was," she said.

McNeil worked on reconnaissance units during two tours of Afghanistan. He also completed tours of Bosnia and Croatia after joining the Royal Canadian Regiment in 1994.

Mellish urged other military personnel to seek help if they are suffering after military tours.

"I'd like to leave you with a last thought: I'm confident without a doubt that there is someone here who is suffering the way Michael was suffering. You are suffering in silence. There is no need to suffer in silence. There is help ... Go get help."

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Video - Statement by General Lawson on Mental Health in the CAF
« Reply #19 on: December 05, 2013, 01:46:50 PM »

December 4, 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen, any, each, and every suicide is a tragedy, and the loss of any soldier is painful and heartbreaking to our men, women and families. Although suicide is an international public health concern, for an organization built on leadership, built on camaraderie, and built on strength, it hits us especially hard. We have an expert health care system to support us, but in order for us to help each other, it’s essential that all military personnel, like all Canadians, recognize mental health issues as they develop.

As you’re already aware, we each have a role to serve in identifying and assisting those affected by mental health concerns. Don’t underestimate the direct, positive impact you can have as a leader, as a friend, or as a subordinate. We can all note changes in behaviour, we can all listen to each other, and we can all aid in seeking help.

For those of you currently combating mental illness, don’t avoid or delay accessing support services and treatment. If you have thoughts of suicide, help is immediately available by calling 911. Expert help is also available at your base and wing clinics, via the member assistance program or at your local emergency room. Reach out to your friends, family members, leaders, padres and medical professionals for support.

Self-stigma regarding mental health must end. Just as you would expect to be helped by your colleagues on the battlefield if you were physically injured, your brothers and sisters in arms are with you in the fight against mental illness.Care is available to each of us. From private to General, from recruit to retirement; we’re a team and we’re there to support each other.

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Suicide rate on rise among Canadian troops
« Reply #20 on: December 07, 2013, 10:42:49 AM »
Suicide rate on rise among Canadian troops: Report


The number of suicide cases among Canadian soldiers and veterans is rising at an alarming rate due to mental disorders, according to a new report.

The British daily The Guardian reported on Saturday that four Canadian soldiers have killed themselves during the past two weeks.

Canadian defense officials say three of the four men had served in Afghanistan.

Opposition leaders in the Canadian Parliament have accused the government of a lack of compassion - calling on Ottawa to act immediately to address the “unprecedented” death toll.

The latest reported case was that of Master Corporal Sylvain Lelievre, 46, whose body was discovered at his military base near Quebec City on Monday.

Captain Mathieu Dufour, the public affairs officer at Valcartier Garrison, confirmed Lelievre’s death, saying that military police have launched an investigation into the incident.

On November 27, Warrant Officer Michael McNeil was found dead at CFB Petawawa, northwest of Ottawa, a day after Master Corporal William Elliott died at his home near CFB Shilo in southwestern Manitoba.

Master Bombardier Travis Halmrast also lost his life at a hospital in the city of Lethbridge, Alberta, after a suicide attempt in prison.

The suicides come at a time when the Canadian government is under scrutiny over its treatment of injured soldiers as reports have shown them being deliberately forced out of the military without any long-term assistance, sometimes only months before they are eligible for pension.

According to Canada's department of national defense, nearly 50 soldiers killed themselves between 2010 and 2012.


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Soldier suicides hit home for Cornwall vets, vigil planned
« Reply #21 on: December 07, 2013, 05:22:50 PM »
Soldier suicides hit home for Cornwall vets, vigil planned

Published on December 07, 2013,-vigil-planned/1#

By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario –A rash of soldier suicides in the Canadian Forces is a story Steve Forest knows all too well.

From left are Friends of Vets co-founders Denis Labbe and Steve Forest.

Army officials have confirmed four suicide deaths over the last few weeks and veterans in Cornwall are amongst a growing voice that is calling for change to the way Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is being handled in the Canadian military.

"The recent military suicides have opened up old feelings. I don't smile as much," said Forest, president of the Friends of Vets support group. "The Department of National Defence (DND) and the government seem to have always been rough with the treatment of their people in the military."

Forest served as a cook in the Canadian military from 1981 until 1982 before he was honorably discharged for medical reasons. Since then, he has struggled with suicidal ideations for many years.

"People with PTSD are at a risk of suicide," he said. "DND could be doing a much better job."

To show support for Canada's fallen heroes, Friends of Vets is holding a 'Vigil for the Military Suicides' on Monday, Dec. 9 at 5 p.m. at the Cornwall Cenotaph (corner of Second Street and Bedford Street).

"The vigil is on a short notice. It was done with a sense of urgency," said Forest. 

He invites everyone to join in on the tribute to Canadian soldiers who have taken their own lives.

Denis Labbe, Friends of Vets past president, and Forest would also like to see more peer-to-peer support groups outside of Cornwall for veterans across the counties.

"The group is helping me move along in life. I have fewer issues now," said Forest.

Friends of Vets gather at the Cornwall Wesleyan Church (780 Sydney Street) for meetings on the first and third Thursday of every month starting at 7 p.m. The next meeting is on Dec. 19.

For more information on the Friends of Vets, visit

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Soldiers of Suicide
« Reply #22 on: December 08, 2013, 09:24:25 PM »

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Soldiers Commit Suicide Because of Invisible Wounds
« Reply #23 on: December 08, 2013, 10:10:36 PM »
Soldiers Commit Suicide Because of Invisible Wounds

Posted: 12/07/2013 12:57 am

In seven days, Canada lost four soldiers to suicide. They died of despair. Suffering mental wounds from their service, able to foresee the end of their careers but unable to see how they could survive after, they succumbed to their injuries and took their own lives.

We might give it fancy clinical names, like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or Operational Stress Injury, but that doesn't change the condition: broken mind. People with rational minds get sent off to witness horrors and return with irrational minds.

Author LesleyAnne Ryan is one of them. She may have turned her Bosnia Peacekeeping experiences into the award-winning Braco, but Corporal Ryan almost didn't make it home.

I'll let her tell you about it. - JRM

On March 10, 1994, I sat on the cot in my tent space in Visoko, Bosnia. I pulled my rifle out from under the cot, stood it up and pointed it at my head. I was in excruciating pain from a wound no one could see. I didn't understand what was happening. I didn't understand the nightmares, the panic attacks, the flashbacks. I didn't understand why I couldn't sleep or eat. I didn't understand why I couldn't see a future.

Five months earlier, I had been a different person. I was a university graduate, a former athlete who had competed in the Canada Games, and I was going to leave the army in 1995 in order to go to law school. I had everything going for me -- a good job, good health and a future.

And it all disappeared in five short months.

Sitting on that cot, I did the one thing anyone contemplating suicide should do: think it through. That's what I did. I hadn't loaded the weapon. I simply didn't have the energy, and that gave me time to think. I didn't think of family or friends. They didn't factor in. I thought of only one thing. What can I do to stop the pain?

My mind sorted through all the options. If I had none, I would have loaded the weapon, but as it happened, I knew there was one person I could talk to. One person who might be able to explain why I could find myself hiding in a porta-potty shaking until I threw up. I made a deal with myself to give that person a chance and I put the rifle away.

As it turned out, that individual gave me the support I needed in Bosnia, and, when I returned to Canada, I went back to work with people whose friendship was unconditional. They never knew or understood exactly what I was going through; they just knew I needed a friend. They were there for me. (Thank you Guy, Paul, MJ, DA and Mike.)

I was diagnosed in 1996 with PTSD, and once I was able to put a name to what was going on in my head, I knew I could fight it. It wasn't easy. I spent the next six years fighting the system, the harassment, the accusations of faking, the attacks on my character -- all while fighting the symptoms and the irresistible lure of suicide. When you're that tired, that worn out, in that much pain, it can be attractive. I had grown up believing that those who commit suicide were cowards. I was wrong. People who commit suicide are in pain, and, as with any type of physical pain, we all have our limit.

I know of others who committed suicide after Bosnia. PTSD was not well understood, and the harassment by peers and supervisors made it impossible to get well. The simple fact of the matter is you can't stitch up a wound while others are still jabbing at it with a knife. The harassment got so bad that in October of 1997, I got up from my desk and walked out. I haven't worked since. I was released 3B (medical) in 2002.

But I was lucky.

Unlike the Afghan vets coming home today, I had more options. Under the Pension Act, I was entitled to a disability pension that was payable from the date of submission. It didn't matter if I was in five years or 15. All disabled vets were covered. I had a pension to rely on, and the financial security goes a very long way to helping a vet piece together a life after they leave the Forces.

But most Afghan vets today are not entitled to this pension. It was replaced in 2006 with a lump sum payment that is a fraction of what they would have gotten under the Pension Act. As a result, Afghan vets with PTSD are left with that catch-22 choice: stay in the military and face the stress of the job, as well as the stress of peer harassment; or get out and face the stress of financial hardship. When you have PTSD and the future looks that hollow, is it any wonder that the suicide rate is so high?

At least I knew I had financial support that would be enough to pay the bills. Knowing that, I was able to focus on taking care of myself. With help, I learned how to cope with the worst symptoms of PTSD to the point that I was able to put together some semblance of a life. I started writing as therapy and wanted to do more. I went back to school, got another degree and a diploma in creative writing. It's the one thing that I've found that fits my life with PTSD. It allows me to write when I feel good, or put it aside when I don't. It has given me purpose.

Twenty years after I served in Bosnia, I finally have something going for me.

It's not the life I wanted in 1993, but it's the life my pension has made possible, and it's worth living. Granted, even after 20 years, I still can't shake the feeling that I'm walking on a tightrope. It's my pension that is keeping me balanced. I know without it, I would fall. The only question is how far.

And today, I see my fellow vets falling and all I can do is say please, don't do it. Stop and think about it. There are options. There are always options. I know that you can't always see them when you're in pain, but trust me, they are there. Things do get better. It might take months, even years, but, for me, those first eight years of fighting got me another few decades of life.

We are soldiers. We are trained to fight, and usually we fight for those who stand next to us. That's easy. The hard part is learning how to fight for yourself. It is the most difficult fight imaginable, but it can be done. I am proof of this.

All you have to do is fight. Fight first for your life. Then fight for your health, your job, and the benefits that are out there. And join the fight to get the benefits of the Pension Act for all veterans. It's not enough to simply exist under the current benefit system. We need the Pension Act benefits so all veterans can live a life.

- Cpl (ret'd) LesleyAnne Ryan

If you are a veteran in crisis, help is available. Military Minds can assist you in figuring things out. If you need immediate help stopping the pain, you can call the Veterans Affairs Crisis Line: 1 (800) 268-7708 or the OSI Social Support line: 1 (800) 883-6094

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Canadian soldiers deserve more support
« Reply #24 on: December 09, 2013, 05:39:53 AM »
Canadian soldiers deserve more support

Forces release name of fourth soldier in rash of suicides (Dec. 5)

The holidays are a very difficult time for those who are missing loved ones. Each of us has learned to cope with grief in our own way. It is never easy. I miss my late father every day and Christmas brings back lots of happy memories. Dad loved buying gifts, decorations, putting up outdoor twinkling lights, spending time with family and all the sentimental hymns and music. It is definitely an emotional time for our family. There is a void.

So too, it must be a time of roller-coaster emotions for those in the military and their families. I think of those who are away from home, soldiers who have come home suffering with physical and mental issues and those never to return.

After learning that four Canadian soldiers in the past week have died by suicide, my heart goes out to those who have come home with Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The disorder may involve experiencing flashbacks, nightmares, feelings of guilt and withdrawing from family and friends. Treatment includes medication and cognitive-behavioural therapy.

After hearing of these deaths, it is as if bright lights were abruptly extinguished. Our government needs to increase its help for soldiers upon their return. These soldiers are not machines, they are feeling human beings whose experiences have deeply altered them. The stigma that surrounds mental health issues needs to be removed through public awareness and understanding. There has got to be a better way of dealing with the flood of PTSD. We owe our soldiers this help. We also need to acknowledge the profound impact these losses have had on families, friends and colleagues and how their suffering continues.

To our soldiers, thank you for your service. We remember, honour and respect you beyond Remembrance Day. You are not alone. There is hope and light amid the darkness.

Louise-Ann (Pretto) Caravaggio, Dundas

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Soldier suicides reopen wounds for Oromocto family
« Reply #25 on: December 09, 2013, 06:07:03 AM »
Soldier suicides reopen wounds for Oromocto family

Parents of Corp. Jamie McMullin fear other suicides if military doesn't improve PTSD treatment

CBC News Posted: Dec 09, 2013 7:25 AM AT Last Updated: Dec 09, 2013 7:25 AM AT

News of suicides by Canadian soldiers is opening painful memories for a New Brunswick family.

In a span of just over a week this fall, four Canadian soldiers who served in Afghanistan took their own lives.
Jame McMullin

Jamie McMullin was 29 when he commited suicide.

Brenda and Darrell McMullin of Oromocto know what that families of those soldiers are going through.

Their son, Corp. Jamie McMullin, came back from his tour of duty in Afghanistan a changed man and battling depression.

The McMullins hoped two years of counselling for the condition would bring back the son they knew.

"Now, he's finally going to get the help he needs. And that didn't happen either," said Darrell McMullin.

Jamie McMullin took his own life in 2011. He was 29.

"The day he died is the day that the military finally decided that he needed to be put on what they call 'category,' which means he can no longer do his job," said his father.
Darrell McMullin

Darrell McMullin's son Jamie took his own life the day the military told him he was no longer fit for duty. (CBC)

"So he's on category, he's medically unfit to be a soldier any more. Until he gets fit, he can't carry a weapon, do his normal job," he said. "In Jamie's mind, that meant the end of his career, he wouldn't be able to support his family. That's the night he died, he took his life."

Brenda McMullin worries there will be more soldier suicides if the military doesn't improve its ability to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder.

"They're put in a kitchen to work because they're so-called trouble makers or they're not willing to work," she said. "They're not admitting that these people have a problem.

"It's a mental illness. And until they do, there are going to be more suicides."

Figures released by the defence department show that 22 full-time members of the Canadian Forces committed suicide in 2011, and 13 personnel took their own lives in 2012.

The Canadian Forces Member Assistance Program has a confidential 24/7 toll-free telephone advisory and referral service for all military personnel and their families. The number is 1-800-268-7708.

Sylvain Chartrand CD

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The Recent PTSD-Driven Suicides of Four Canadian Soldiers - Service Dogs: Help
« Reply #26 on: December 11, 2013, 10:54:56 PM »
The Recent PTSD-Driven Suicides of Four Canadian Soldiers - Service Dogs: Helpmates for Lives in Chaos

Upcoming Documentary to Address Soldiers’ Suffering and the Canine Solution

For Immediate release

Ottawa, Ontario, December 11, 2013: The recent Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) driven-suicides of four Canadian soldiers underscore the severity of “coming home from war” to an environment with little support for those suffering mentally and physically.  This time of year is particularly difficult as these soldiers and their families are far removed from the idyllic “White Christmas” that’s playing everywhere.  With many case workers taking holidays, the resources so crucial to PTSD sufferers are in short supply as well.

Now that Canada's combat role in Afghanistan is winding down, a more responsible PTSD treatment program is urgently needed. According to a 2011 Parliamentary Report on PTSD and Mental Health in the Canadian Forces, between 25,000 and 35,000 soldiers are expected to be discharged over the next five years. Based on past diagnosis rates, as many as 2,750 of them will suffer from a severe form of PTSD. In a recent report, Canadian Military Ombudsman Pierre Daigle observed that the military’s mental health treatment system is 15 to 22 per cent understaffed in some places.
Local producer Deborah Lewis has taken on the challenge of making “A Life of Thai”, a documentary that hits home with the strong message: Our service men need help and they need it now in the form of their four-legged friends.  It’s becoming apparent that trained service animals (dogs and horses) can aid Veterans, RCMP and First Response Emergency Workers dealing with PTSD to cope with everyday situations; assist them in reconnecting with their family members; help reinstate their return to the workforce; and make a positive contribution to their community.
Veterans with service dogs have either reduced or completely eliminated the cocktail of medications used to treat their PTSD.  “ZERO” Canadian Veterans that have service dogs have committed suicide.

The documentary will follow two veterans and their families before, during and after their introduction to a service dog.  Interviews will be interspersed throughout the documentary that include the Veterans, their families; the Minister of Veterans Affairs, Hon. Julian Fantino; Medric Cousineau (a Veteran who walked from Nova Scotia to Ottawa with his service dog Thai to raise awareness); Kevin Berry, Veteran with Military Minds; Sylvain Chartrand, Veteran with Canadian Veterans Advocacy; MP Jim Karygiannis; Senator Romeo D’Allaire;  among a number of other Veterans with PTSD that have service dogs or are service dog trainers.

Fundraising efforts to raise awareness of this “canine solution” in Canada, where 100% of all donations will go toward the documentary’s financing are underway with a major push expected in the New Year to ensure the film’s anticipated release in summer 2014.  Donations can be made directly at


Media Contact: Kita Szpak, KS Communications, #613-725-3063

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Rick Hillier calls for public inquiry in wake of soldier suicides
« Reply #27 on: December 14, 2013, 10:43:13 AM »
Rick Hillier calls for public inquiry in wake of soldier suicides

Former chief of defence staff worried there could be more suicides during the holidays

By Kristen Everson, CBC News Posted: Dec 14, 2013 6:00 AM ET Last Updated: Dec 13, 2013 11:26 PM ET

Former chief of defence staff Rick Hillier fears more soldiers may take their own lives over this holiday season and is calling for a board of inquiry or Royal Commission into what the military is doing to help those with mental health problems.

In an interview with CBC Radio's The House, retired general Hillier told host Evan Solomon the recent apparent suicides of four serving Canadian soldiers was a tragic and needless loss of life.

    Soldiers join forces to combat suicide and PTSD

"What a tragedy it is and I really do worry about this next period of time, as we head into the Christmas season, that we could in fact see more," because personnel may feel more alone in the Christmas season as they are away from their combat units and comrades.

The recent apparent suicides within days of each other at the end of November and early December have thrown a spotlight on the military and government programs around supporting members with PTSD and other mental health illnesses.

According to recently released statistics by National Defence, 10 regular forces members have taken their own life this year. That is on par with past years. In 2012, 13 regular force members took their own lives. In 2011, 22 regular force soldiers committed suicide.

The military does not track the number of reservists who commit suicide.

Hillier said while the military has taken action on this and there are good programs available, more needs to be done and confidence in the system needs to be restored.

He said stigma around mental health illnesses in the military is what prevented many people from coming forward in the past, and there is still a fear by some soldiers their careers will suffer if they come forward with a problem.

"I think that now this is beyond the medical issue. I think that many of our young men and women have lost confidence in our country to support them," he said.

    'I don't think we had any idea of the scale and scope of what the impact [of Afghanistan] would be. I truly do not.'- Retired General Rick Hillier

Hillier suggested that confidence could be restored through some kind of public inquiry into how mental health illnesses are treated and what is being done to support soldiers who are struggling.

"I think we have to have a big change here to restore that confidence. I actually think we have a public board of inquiry..... or even something like a Royal Commission to say how are we doing our business in the Canadian Forces.

"How are we building those family teams that allow people to go through the most extreme frightening experience in the world and come out with the best possibility of remaining healthy for the rest of your life," he said.

Veterans Charter needs work

The other area Hillier pointed to for improvement was the new Veterans Charter, in particular the part of the charter that replaced a pension for life or payment system with lump-sum awards and allowances.

"Many of us, certainly, almost all of us, agree that the charter is now lacking," he said.

He said the system now does not provide ill and injured veterans with the support they will need throughout their lives. And it does not go far enough to make sure they are properly taken care of for their entire life.

    'This is now a different battlefield ... Go talk to your battle buddies. Talk to them and tell them you've got a problem'- Retired general Rick Hillier

"That is the key point we need to change in that Veterans Charter, to make sure we look after those veterans who've paid an incredible price — a brutal price for us, for our nation — right through 'til when they're 95 years old, and this charter doesn't do it."

The Military and Veterans Ombudsman has warned cases of PTSD and other operational stress injuries could rise as the mission in Afghanistan winds down. Canada's training mission will formally wrap up in March 2014, but the majority of Canadian soldiers have already returned home.

Hillier, who was the chief of defence staff when Canadian troops were sent into combat in Kandahar, said the military did not understand the full scope of the mental impact on the troops fighting there.

"I don't think we had any idea of the scale and scope of what the impact would be. I truly do not."

Hillier, who also served in Afghanistan as the commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Kabul in 2004, said he suffered only minuscule symptoms of PTSD when he returned home, having the occasional dream or waking up at night.

He credits his strong circle of friends and family for making him feel healthy and comfortable upon his return, but warns that not all soldiers are so lucky.

His final message to troops is to not be alone this holiday season.

"Don't be alone. Do not be alone over this period of time.

"If you've got a problem, we learned long ago in combat that there is no embarrassment in admitting a weakness. No embarrassment in approaching somebody else," Hillier said.

"You know, we entrust our battle buddies with our very lives on the battlefield, this is now a different battlefield, so trust them. Go talk to your battle buddies. Talk to them and tell them you've got a problem."

Listen to the full interview with retired general Rick Hillier on CBC Radio's The House with Evan Solomon, Saturday at 9 a.m. on CBC Radio One and SiriusXM Ch. 169.

Sylvain Chartrand CD

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Another Suicide, The 5th Scottish Regiment
« Reply #28 on: December 14, 2013, 02:07:45 PM »
The Canadian Veterans Advocacy wishes to extend our most sincere condolences to the family of Private Jordan Melchior, Scottish Regiment.

May peace be with him and the Lord grace his family during their time of grieving.

Lest we Forget.


his is from the FB page Send up the count. Our condolences to the family and friends of Pte. Jordan Melchior of the Canadian Scottish Regiment. Jordan took his own life yesterday. He had 16 months of service in the regiment, and was schedule to release from the CF next week. His family informed his regiment and authorized dissemination of this.


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Re: CVA Sit Rep. Two Suicides, CFB Shilo, 26/11/2013
« Reply #29 on: December 14, 2013, 07:02:04 PM »
I think what makes me nervous about this public enquiry is who is going to lead it?  And who is going to partake in it?  Sadly with many of these enquires it is politicians and professionals that are part of the problem that are leading these enquiries.  We need people involved that are truly looking out for the needs of the Vets, not people that are on the DND payroll.   I would like to see vets, spouses, and some mental health professionals (outside, neutral ones) involved in this process of enquiring what is wrong with the current system, and what needs to be changed to stop these suicides from continuing, and to prevent more in the future.

Nadine Dalheim