Author Topic: CVA Sit Rep. Two Suicides, CFB Shilo, 26/11/2013  (Read 55368 times)

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Sylvain Chartrand CD

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Dr Dee: Suicide Awareness for our CAF Soldiers Lake Street Armoury (31 GBC)
« Reply #30 on: December 16, 2013, 01:47:08 PM »
Just recently we have lost four members of our Canadian Armed Forces due to Suicide. Major Carrie Riddell and the 31st Brigade wanted to get an awareness video out to give our returning soldiers who are having problems a chance to get help.

http://youtu.be/fMH7t_QECEU

Sylvain Chartrand CD

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Top medical officers offer a defence of the military’s mental health system (with video)

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/medical+officers+offer+defence+military+mental+health+system+with+video/9312191/story.html

OTTAWA — The Canadian military offers state-of-the-art care for its mentally injured soldiers but stigma in the ranks and negative media portrayals are discouraging some troops from seeking help, say senior military medical officers responsible for running the system.

Rocked by four recent suicides and a stream of criticism of its mental health system, three officers — deputy surgeon general Colin MacKay, director of mental health Scott McLeod and senior psychiatrist Rakesh Jetly — made the rare move of reaching out to the Citizen in an effort, they said, to help generate trust in what they say is one of the leading mental health services in Canada.

“Although we do screen a lot of folks out of the Canadian Forces, we also send people to very dangerous areas and we certainly recognize that people are injured in those deployments,” said McLeod. “We have resources in place to ensure we look after those folks. If you’re suffering, make sure you come and get help.”

According to official figures, 10 serving members committed suicide last year, 22 in 2011 and 12 in 2010.

Veterans advocates say the figures are likely higher because deaths such as vehicle fatalities are sometimes suicides disguised as accidents. They also say statistics on uncompleted suicides are necessary to give a more accurate picture of how some troops are suffering.

Jetly defended his claim that suicide rates within the Canadian military are lower than in Canadian society even though the military figures don’t include reservists or retired soldiers.

“This is about statistics and about how things are measured in a scientific manner,” he said. “Every time I say that the suicide rate is lower I also say ‘so it should be.’ Every suicide is a tragedy.”

MacKay conceded that the rate of suicide is higher among veterans than among serving troops and although post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can linger for a lifetime if untreated, questioned whether it’s fair to blame military service when suicides happen “quite a period of time after they left the military.”

“So much has happened in life over that period of time,” he said.

But “we don’t just look at the statistics and numbers,” added mental health chief McLeod.

“We want to learn and improve our system so we can prevent suicide,” he said. “We look at men, women and reservists. We look at all we can to make our system better. If there is something we find that we can implement immediately, we do that. No other organization in Canada, and probably the world, has got a program that intensive to learn from these suicides.”

The three medical colonels refused to say what they thought of a call by former Chief of Defence Staff Rick Hillier for a Royal Commission or public inquiry into military suicides.

“This is beyond the medical issue,” Hillier told the CBC last week. “I think many of our young men and women have lost confidence in our country to support them.”

But MacKay said he doesn’t believe that all members of the Canadian armed forces have lost confidence in the country.

“Some people continue to struggle who have perhaps lost some trust,” he said, “but I don’t believe all members of the armed forces would fit in to what Gen. Hillier is referring to.”

Negative media coverage and emphasis on the more troubled soldiers is potentially discouraging others in less extreme states of mental illness from seeing a doctor and getting into treatment, said the officers.

Jetly said his comments in the summer describing media coverage of mentally injured soldiers as the “Hollywood version of soldiers coming back broken, using drugs, abusing their wives, killing themselves” were an effort to prevent the problems of a minority being portrayed as representative of the majority of mentally injured troops.

“The point is that cases like that are by far the minority,” said Jetly. “The vast majority of soldiers with mental illness are responsible citizens, loving fathers coming to work every day and doing their duty. So I take issue with the stereotyping of mentally ill people as being deranged and dangerous.”

Despite well-documented fears among some troops that a declaration of emotional problems is a career-killer in the military, McLeod said the military’s goal is to keep people, not push them out.

“We don’t want people to leave,” he said. “There has been an enormous investment in their training and they have great experience. They are valuable assets and the last thing we want to do is see them leave.

“There are people out there struggling,” he added. “We want them to come in so we can get a grip on those folks out there who need the help. We can’t help them if they don’t come in. They won’t come in if they don’t trust the system.”

Jetly, who has been the military’s main spokesman on mental health, agreed that stigma — a “suck it up buttercup” mentality — exists but claimed that surveys show that it is less prevalent in the Canadian military than among allied forces.

“It exists everywhere in society,” he said. “When we survey soldiers — these are the troops not the generals — ‘Would you think less of somebody who sought mental health care?’ only seven per cent of people said yes. When you ask those questions in society the figures are much higher. Will stigma ever completely go away? Absolutely not, but as an organization we have come a long way in reducing that stigma.”

Some troops are “self-stigmatizing,” added Jetly.

“It’s an interesting concept in the sense that people may encourage someone else to get care but when it comes to themselves they might have different feelings,” he said. “People need to give themselves the same kindness that they would show their colleagues.”

McLeod agreed and said some of his colleagues from overseas deployment are also resisting treatment.

“Even some of our health care providers have not gone in to get help because of their own personal stigma,” he said. “They know they’ve got a good health care system to go to but they want to help themselves.”

Some veterans say that Universality of Service, introduced in 2006 as the mental and physical fitness standard for Canadian troops, is exacerbating the problem for the mentally injured because they see it as a career-ender. To meet the standard, troops must be capable — among other things — of combat.

None of the three officers would be drawn on whether Universality of Service should be amended to allow those recovering from mental injury to stay in the military in non-combat, non-deployment roles.

“In the Canadian armed forces we need to have a standard we can apply to ensure we can maintain a level of operational readiness,” said McLeod. “Should we put people in situations that might reactivate their PTSD or their depression? Would that be reasonable?”

In some cases, said MacKay, it’s preferable to prepare mentally ill troops for a life outside the military.

“That’s why you are encountering soldiers who say that if they come forward it will be an end to my military career,” he said. “But we have to have standards, and from the mental health perspective, we need to help people understand when maybe it’s not good for them to continue on and they need to progress to something different that might be better for them.”

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Sylvain Chartrand CD

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More Canadian military suicides feared in recent weeks
« Reply #32 on: January 09, 2014, 10:51:49 AM »
More Canadian military suicides feared in recent weeks

By Chris Cobb, OTTAWA CITIZEN January 9, 2014 8:18 AM

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/More+Canadian+military+suicides+feared+recent+weeks/9365597/story.html

OTTAWA — More military deaths during the Christmas and New Year holidays are being treated as suspected suicides.

The family of Leona MacEachern told CTV News that the 51-year-old retired corporal’s death in a traffic accident west of Calgary on Christmas Day was not an accident, but suicide.

MacEachern’s Pontiac Grand Am crossed the centre line on Highway 22 and collided head-on with a transport truck.

MacEachern, who had spent most of her adult life in the military, died at the scene. RCMP officers have said that road conditions, speed and alcohol were not factors in the collision.

There has been widespread criticism of the military for downplaying suicide statistics and a suspicion that some vehicle deaths involving military and ex-military were deliberate, not accidental.

Tom MacEachern told CTV News that his wife was suffering from a “major depressive disorder” and her death was an “intentional final desperate act of a Canadian Armed Forces veteran who was undergoing treatment for PTSD.”

“We would like to say that Leona slipped through the cracks in the system,” he said, “but, in fact, there doesn’t appear to be a system.

“We aren’t out to blame or criticize the individuals working in Veterans Affairs or the health care system,” he said. “These people are … trying to make the most with their ever-dwindling resources. Too many bad decisions are being made by disconnected politicians and unaccountable mandarins.”

Chief of Defence Staff Tom Lawson issued a statement saying he was “deeply saddened by the death.”

Veterans advocate Barry Westholm, a former senior leader with the military’s Joint Personnel Support Unit (JPSU), told the Ottawa Citizen late Wednesday that the military is not doing enough to support its mentally injured troops and veterans.

“Suicides aren’t preventable,” he said. “If people are committed to doing it, they will do it. But are the Canadian armed forces doing enough to help these people? No. The military bureaucracy has failed so others are having to step up to help.”

Westholm also criticized the military brass for characterizing some PTSD sufferers as having a “self-stigma” that is preventing them from seeking treatment they say is readily available.

“That’s just another way of saying ‘suck it up,’ he said.

In an interview with the Citizen before Christmas, the military’s chief of mental health, Scott McLeod, said DND is doing all it can to prevent suicides.

“We want to learn and improve our system so we can prevent suicide,” he said. “We look at men, women and reservists. We look at all we can to make our system better. If there is something we find that we can implement immediately, we do that. No other organization in Canada, and probably the world, has got a program that intensive to learn from these suicides.”

Four other Canadian soldiers died from apparent suicides in the past six weeks.

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Statement from the family of Leona MacEachern

This is formal acknowledgment of the actual events on Wednesday, December 25, 2013 on Highway 22 west of Calgary.

At 1:50 p.m. a Pontiac Grand Am travelling north just south of the Trans-Canada Highway interchange crossed the centre line and was impacted head-on by a transport truck travelling southbound.

The roads were clear at the time and Cochrane RCMP had communicated that alcohol, road conditions and speed were not factors.

The driver of the car was pronounced dead on the scene. She was 51-year-old Leona MacEachern of Calgary, Alta. Fortunately the two occupants of the tractor trailer unit were not seriously hurt. We extend our sympathies to those occupants and hope they are able to forgive the tragedy that came their way that day.

The fact is that this was NOT an accident. It was an intentional final desperate act of a Canadian Armed Forces Veteran who was undergoing treatment for PTSD related “Major Depressive Disorder and anxiety disorder not otherwise specified” (since early in 2013).

The extent of this treatment was to see a psychologist for 45 minutes a week to “assist in reaching your goal of symptom management.”

We would like to say that Leona had slipped through the cracks in the system but, in fact, there does not seem to be “a system.” When symptoms became worse she was referred into the Alberta Public Health care system which was even worse. Various medications led to new side-effects and symptoms and assessments were done on lock-down psychiatric wards alongside the deeply disturbed and those under observation in relation to criminal matters. A couple of visits to emergency rooms when she reported suicidal thoughts were met with a quick visit by the “crisis team” who then sent her home.

Finally, after a long wait she was admitted to the Centennial Centre in Ponoka, Alta., where brain injuries are also considered and investigated for persons with deteriorating conditions. There was hope for a few brief days. She was allowed to be home for Christmas but we learned later that she was in transition between medications at the time. No specific instructions were communicated to the family.

We believe her PTSD symptoms manifested themselves as the result of some protracted battles with Veterans affairs to obtain medical benefits for issues arising from dental work in the late 1980s while stationed in Germany during the first Gulf War. Metals used in fashioning a quick replacement tooth (that were banned from use in Germany shortly after) she believed, had contributed to a confirmed diagnosis of geographic tongue. Other symptoms following the dental work included an increased sensitivity to smells, taste and frequent vomiting. There was also speculation that the high levels of air pollution in Lahr, Germany, may have contributed to her hyper-sensitivities. Conspiracy theorists suggest that soldiers in that conflict may have been injected with some kind of anti-chemical warfare agent that later manifested itself with PTSD-like symptoms. Some of her symptoms did bear a striking resemblance to what American soldiers in that conflict suffered as Gulf War Syndrome in the numbers approaching 300,000.

Once the tooth was removed in 2011, some of these symptoms abated somewhat and she began the fight to get replacement dental work done.

Department of National Defence could not locate files of the original dental procedure so the claim was simply rejected several times through to the end of the appeals process.

Whatever the initial cause was, what began as a process to attempt to get compensation ended up in a deteriorating mental state that stemmed from:

• A feeling that she was being dismissed without proper investigation of causes of her mouth pain for almost 20 years.

• Re-engaging in the formal bureaucratic process meant she had to re-visit this and several other un-pleasantries from service in the past.

• Her first long stint in regular Forces as a Military policewomen ended when she was harassed and forced out when she started to bring certain incidents to light (See: Ottawa Citizen circa 1993 – “It’s still a Man’s Army”)

• She spent most of her adult life in the Armed Forces and had difficulty re-adjusting to civilian life.

Regardless of the validity of her claims, there was little doubt that there were adjustment issues to civilian life and the recent news of other CF members who had taken their lives played on her mind as well.

The family has decided to release these facts because:

• She felt there was no hope as no-one seemed to be addressing the root causes of her condition.

• PTSD has reached epidemic proportions. In receiving condolences from her military family across the nation and in Afghanistan we have learned of many more members who have sought this solution and gone unreported or having been misclassified.

• We believe she wanted it known that this was her sacrifice so her family could move on, and that was why she picked this date (Dec. 25). In her mind, this was a gift.

Other Comments:

To those who cite the explanation, ‘The rate of suicides in the Military is the same or only slightly higher as the general population,” we respond: ‘Are those general population statistics all people who were top students, pillars of their community, fierce patriots, persons who devoted their lives specifically to honor and uphold the values of justice and equality in this once great nation?”

A few other comments in our family during this discussion and worthy of mention…

• “Whatever happened to our military hospital system?”

• “The Second World War vets support mechanism was the ENTIRE population, no-one was untouched by that conflict… everyone was in it together and everyone pulled through it together…. Also, we had a clear enemy.”

• “Our politicians need to stop the partisan infighting and jockeying for the best re-election sound bites and actually do something that benefits the nation, not themselves.”

• “We aren’t out to lay blame or criticize the individuals working in Veterans Affairs or the health care system. These people are suffering too, trying to make the most with their ever dwindling resources. Too many bad decisions are being made by disconnected politicians and unaccountable mandarins at both federal and provincial levels.”

• “If we as a country cannot solve this together… we are in for far worse times ahead in this quickly changing world.”

• Check this online forum post from 2001 and tell me what’s changed?



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Sylvain Chartrand CD

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Canada’s military confirms another suicide amid renewed criticism - 7th
« Reply #33 on: January 10, 2014, 07:59:42 AM »
Canada’s military confirms another suicide amid renewed criticism

By Chris Cobb, OTTAWA CITIZEN January 9, 2014

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Canada+military+confirms+another+suicide+amid+renewed+criticism/9369926/story.html

OTTAWA — Canada’s military and political leadership are facing a renewed tide of criticism in the wake of more military suicides, with critics charging that the Conservative government is failing its mentally injured troops and veterans.

CFB Suffield base commander Lt.-Col. Sean Hackett confirmed Thursday that Cpl. Adam Eckhardt of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry took his own life on Jan 3.

The 29-year-old Trenton native, a married father of two, showed no outward signs of depression and had not sought treatment, said Hackett.

“He was a very outgoing, personable guy and comfortable with leadership,” he said. “It’s quite hard to fathom the rationale behind it. He was a great soldier and had a great record. It was all quite a shock.”

Eckhardt, who served only on domestic missions, will receive a full military funeral next week in Trenton.

Thursday’s announcement from the Alberta military base came a day after the husband of 51-year-old Calgary veteran Leona MacEachern attributed his wife’s death in a Christmas Day traffic collision to suicide — “an intentional, final desperate act of a Canadian Armed Forces veteran who was undergoing treatment for PTSD.”

“We would like to say Leona slipped through the cracks in the system,” said Tom MacEachern, “but in fact there doesn’t appear to be a system. Too many bad decisions are being made by disconnected politicians and unaccountable mandarins.”

The military leadership has been under fire since the suicides of four other serving soldiers shortly before Christmas, but Canadian Veterans Advocacy president Mike Blais says whatever strategy exists to cope with mental injury in serving soldiers and the military “isn’t working.”

“We need leadership at the Chief of Defence Staff level and the ministerial level,” he said. “I don’t know what the answer is, but they have the resources and wherewithal to find the answer and implement mechanisms to stop this. They have an obligation and they’re not fulfilling it.

“I don’t know whether it’s a disconnect at DND — that they don’t understand that this problem is as severe as it is — or whether they are constrained by budget cuts,” he added. “Or is it wilful ignorance? I would hate to think it’s the third because we are a brotherhood and sisterhood and we’re supposed to be taking care of each other. We’ve heard them say ‘come forward and we will take care of you,’ but too many people are choosing the other option. Why?”

Former military officer Stéphane Grenier, the Canadian military’s former adviser on operational stress injury, told the Citizen that military brass need to work on changing the “fabric of military culture.”

“What military leadership has to stop doing is consistently reverting back to psychiatrists for solutions,” he said. “Psychiatrists are doctors who prescribe pills and diagnose people. They don’t have the skills or the knowledge to work on cultural acceptance of these (mental health) issues. We’ll never eradicate suicide but darn it, we have to do something more. I hope we can see the day where we start doing some meaningful work to find out what is missing. We need to rehumanize the (military) workplace so people … understand that it’s OK if someone develops mental health issues.”

Defence Minister Rob Nicholson again urged troops going through “difficult times” to seek help.

“Canadians can trust that the Armed Forces take the issue of member suicide very seriously,” he said in a statement. “Great efforts are being made to identify at-risk members and to provide them with treatment, counselling, and other types of support.”

But opposition veterans affairs critic Peter Stoffer told the Citizen that neither the military nor Veterans Affairs has the funding necessary to deal with the problem.

“Even though the government says nice words, their actions don’t match the rhetoric,” he said. “I can’t tell you the hundreds, perhaps thousands of people I have dealt with who aren’t getting the help they need because of bureaucratic red tape. The husband of (Leona MacEachern) said her fight with Veterans Affairs was ongoing and she could no longer do it. I’ve heard that from many people.”

Stoffer is urging the military to do immediate investigations of all suicides in an effort to prevent more and institute a tracking system for veterans with a history of mental health issues after they leave the service.

“Whatever help these people need, they should get,” he added. “You would have thought we’d have this figured out by now but we don’t. It’s disappointing that a nation as rich as ours has these tragic events happening. This should be the number 1 priority of our government.”

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Military psychiatrist defends treatment of troubled soldiers, veterans
« Reply #34 on: January 10, 2014, 07:55:33 PM »
Military psychiatrist defends treatment of troubled soldiers, veterans

VIDEO: http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/military-psychiatrist-defends-treatment-of-troubled-soldiers-veterans-1.1632861#ixzz2q3EtNfCk



CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Thursday, January 9, 2014 10:13PM EST

A military psychiatrist is defending the care provided to troubled members of the Canadian Forces after six soldiers died of suicide in as many weeks.

A day after the husband of retired Cpl. Leona MacEachern revealed that she intentionally drove her car into an oncoming transport truck in Alberta on Christmas Day, Canadian Forces psychiatrist Maj. Paul Sedge insisted that officials are doing everything they can to support soldiers and veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Sedge told CTV News that the military is in the final stages of hiring 54 new health care support workers. But since the latest string of suicides began, National Defence has only hired one new social worker, one nurse, and one psychiatrist.

“We've stepped up these mental health clinics. We've increased the size, increased training, and increased quality of care that's delivered,” Sedge said. “So every base now has some form of mental health clinic.”

However, many advocacy groups say National Defence punishes soldiers who go public with their struggles with mental illness.

That’s why one group has stepped up with its own support system, independent of the military.

A new toll-free support line, 1-855-373-8387, was launched today, established for soldiers by other soldiers.

Many say an existing military-run hotline for soldiers in distress is ineffective.

“You don't get hope calling a 1-800 (number) and somebody saying we're going to get back to you in three days,” said veterans’ advocate Kevin Berry. “Getting back to you in three business days when you're suicidal? That's not going to work. That's not going to help anyone.”

Meanwhile, the opposition is blaming the Conservative government for not reacting fast enough to the mental health crisis in the military.

“If they don't want to step up to the plate, then guess what, get out of the way and get someone else in who knows how to do it,” said Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis.

With a report from CTV’s Richard Madan

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/military-psychiatrist-defends-treatment-of-troubled-soldiers-veterans-1.1632861#ixzz2q3FEkelL

Sylvain Chartrand CD

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Canadian soldier's death 3rd suspected suicide in a week
« Reply #35 on: January 11, 2014, 07:35:44 AM »
Canadian soldier's death 3rd suspected suicide in a week

Tom Mulcair urges Stephen Harper to make the issue of military suicides a personal priority

The Canadian Press Posted: Jan 10, 2014 6:03 PM ET Last Updated: Jan 10, 2014 10:49 PM ET

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canadian-soldier-s-death-3rd-suspected-suicide-in-a-week-1.2492125



The Canadian military is dealing with another case of suspected suicide, the third sudden death in a week.

The latest tragedy, which occurred Wednesday, involves a reservist belonging to The Princess of Wales' Own Regiment, one of the country's oldest military units, based in Kingston, Ont.

Several defence sources identify the victim as Cpl. Camilo Sanhueza-Martinez, 28, a veteran of the Afghan war.

National Defence confirmed the identity, but declined comment on the circumstances saying that Kingston Police were investigating after the soldier was found at home.

"The sudden loss of any soldier is devastating to the military community and our condolences go out to his family and friends," said a defence department statement. "The loss of any of our soldiers is tragic and heartbreaking. The regimental family, the entire army family and community are mourning the loss of Cpl. Sanhueza-Martinez."

He joined the army in January 2005 and served in Afghanistan between May 2010 and January 2011.

Over the last week, there have at least two other cases of apparent suicide involving serving members of the Forces, and that follows on a string of deaths last fall, including a spate of four in one week.

One particularly stark case from December was made public earlier this week when the husband of a former Canadian soldier who died in a Christmas Day car crash in southern Alberta told CTV that his wife's death was a suicide.
PM urged to take 'urgent action'

Tom MacEachern said his 51-year-old wife, Leona, a retired corporal, was being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder, and intentionally drove her car into an oncoming tractor-trailer on the Trans-Canada Highway near Calgary.

MacEachern says his wife had been locked in a long battle with Veterans Affairs over medical benefits for dental work she received while stationed in Germany during the first Gulf war.

The latest case involving the reservist from Toronto alarms veterans advocates.

While National Defence is able to effectively track regular, full-time members, it has struggled to deliver services to reservists, who serve part-time.

"One can only wonder just what level of mental health support DND is providing an individual at the reservist level or how many more reservists have taken their lives," said Mike Blais, president of Canadian Veteran Advocacy.

"We can not underestimate this problem, thousands of reservists were called upon to serve in Afghanistan. Those who have sustained mental wounds are in our communities. They need our help. They need the help of our military and government."

The alarming number of suspected suicides prompted NDP leader Tom Mulcair to make a direct plea to Prime Minister Stephen Harper on earlier Friday to take "urgent action."

Mulcair sent a letter to Harper calling on him to "commit to taking urgent action" to properly address the mental health needs of those who serve in the military.

"I urge you to make addressing this issue a personal priority for you as prime minister," the letter states.

"I am asking you on behalf of your government to honestly acknowledge the crisis, accept responsibility for the fact the status quo isn't working."
50 boards of inquiry on military suicides

The issue of mental health needs in the military was brought before two separate House of Commons committees last month.

Former soldiers and veterans advocates said little attention is paid to helping physically wounded soldiers and those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder make the transition to civilian life.

And they said the perceived financial uncertainty created by the Harper government's overhaul of veterans benefits is driving some soldiers to the brink.

The government's New Veterans Charter largely converted the old pension-for-life system to a series of lump-sum awards and finite allowances — something the soldiers claim is far less generous.

Mulcair's letter points out that there have been more than 50 boards of inquiry on military suicides, some of which date back five years and some of which haven't been released.

"In too many cases, grieving families are left without answers or closure," Mulcair writes.

"Canadians are left with grave concerns about whether the system put in place to help our armed forces is broken, or if we are learning from these tragedies in order to prevent future ones."

Jason MacDonald, a spokesman for Harper, said in an email that Canada's military and Veterans Affairs take suicides and stress among current and former soldiers seriously and are making every effort to provide support.

"It's irresponsible for politicians to assert that these services are not available," MacDonald said.

The Harper government has said it the past that it has invested millions bolstering mental health services for the military.


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PM should support troops
« Reply #36 on: January 11, 2014, 02:03:43 PM »
PM should support troops

Ottawa Citizen January 11, 2014 2:00 PM

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/should+support+troops/9375586/story.html

Re: Military confirms another suicide, Jan. 10.

Yet another heartbreaking story of more suicides by members of the military, some suffering from PTSD. I am so ashamed of my government for its treatment of veterans.

We send them to supposedly "fight the good fight," then on their return, do not provide them with the services they need to heal from the hell that is war. Or we offer them a one-time pittance of a payment, to compensate for missing limbs, in so doing, condemning them to a lifetime of financial hardship. Or we arrange for them to be let go from the military before their pensions kick in.

There simply does not seem to be a political will to change the status quo. Only when Canadians speak out against the appalling treatment of war vets, do we have a chance of turning this around. I do not think for a moment that the average Canadian would support these shameful practices. We must not cut DND budgets at the expense of vets.

The irony is that those of us who questioned Canada's involvement in the war in Afghanistan, were told repeatedly to "support our troops." (Actually, that's exactly what we were trying to do.) Well, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, it's over to you to walk your talk and stop this insanity by supporting our troops and honouring the sacrifices they made.

Pam Mayhew, Ottawa

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Veterans demand action on military suicides after latest death

By Chris Cobb, OTTAWA CITIZEN January 19, 2014 8:00 PM

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/health/Veterans+demand+action+military+suicides+after+latest+death/9405888/story.html

OTTAWA — Another member of the Canadian armed forces has died in an apparent suicide — the eighth in a little more than two months — bringing a furious reaction from a national veterans’ advocacy group.

The military confirmed Sunday that Lieut.-Col. Stéphane Beauchemin died in Limoges, just outside Ottawa, on Thursday last week but refused to confirm that the helicopter pilot had taken his own life.

Beauchemin, a veteran of deployments in Haiti in 1997 and Bosnia in 1999, was a client of the Joint Personnel Support Unit centre in Ottawa, the unit into which mentally and physically injured troops are posted before leaving the forces or returning to work.

Although the vast majority posted into JPSU are ultimately released from the military, a unit spokesman said Sunday that the officer was on a back-to-work program.

In 2011, Beauchemin was deputy commander of the 430 Tactical Helicopter Squadron. The Citizen was unable to confirm his position prior to being posted in to JPSU.

Canadian Veterans Advocacy president Mike Blais, who has been urging the government and military to take action on suicides, said Sunday that his own sources had confirmed Beauchemin’s suicide to him earlier in the day.

“The message has to resonate within the prime minister’s office, defence minister’s office and certainly the office of the chief of defence staff,” said Blais. “It’s time for action. We can’t stand by any longer and allow this to continue.”

JPSU, an umbrella for a series of 24 Integrated Personnel Support Centres across Canada, was criticized in a recent Department of National Defence ombudsman’s report for being understaffed, leaving those tasked with helping the most damaged veterans overworked, often inadequately trained and in danger of burnout.

As a result of that report, military brass ordered a limited increase in staff at the worst affected units but the military was unable to confirm Sunday how many staff have so far been added.

An apparent road accident in Alberta that killed 51-year old retired corporal Leona MacEachern was, according to her husband, suicide — the “intentional final desperate act of a Canadian Armed Forces veteran who was undergoing treatment for PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).”

“We would like to say that Leona slipped through the cracks in the system,” said MacEachern’s husband, Tom, “but, in fact, there doesn’t appear to be a system.

The Citizen has also learned that a former Halifax area military police office who left the armed forces six months died last week, also of an apparent suicide.

The military has vigorously defended its mental health programs for injured troops.

The military’s chief of mental health, Scott McLeod, told the Citizen in an interview last December that “no other organization in Canada, and probably the world” has got a more intensive program to learn from suicides.

Staff at the Ottawa unit are “extremely saddened” by Beauchemin’s death, JPSU said in a statement Sunday.

The staff members … are an extremely caring, highly dedicated and closely bonded team,” said the statement. Their main focus is on supporting Lieut. Col. Beauchemin’s family and colleagues in their time of need.”

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

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EDITORIAL: Military needs mental-health reform
« Reply #38 on: February 10, 2014, 12:30:20 PM »
EDITORIAL: Military needs mental-health reform

the chronicle herald
Published February 10, 2014 - 1:00am
Last Updated February 10, 2014 - 6:30am



http://thechronicleherald.ca/editorials/1185421-editorial-military-needs-mental-health-reform

Canada’s military, reeling from reports that about eight of its members have committed suicide in less than three months, is failing its members.

That’s what military ombudsman Pierre Daigle told a Senate committee last week.

Mr. Daigle painted a picture of a hypocritical organization that, on one hand, encourages members to seek treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and mental health problems, then promptly dismisses 90 per cent of personnel sent to support units as unfit for deployment.

Now unemployed, ex-members must convince Veterans Affairs that they do, indeed, suffer from whatever conditions got them kicked out of the military in the first place.

One ex-Forces member said the process was like “being pushed off a cliff,” Mr. Daigle told senators.

The pension system compounds the problem. Mentally ill members often won’t seek help until after 10 years of service when they can qualify for a pension, putting their health, not to mention that of family and friends, at risk.

The military has known for at least 10 years that it needed to beef up its mental health staff, with extra money in place since the early 2000s.

But DND insiders say bureaucratic turf wars, worsened by the government’s 2010 hiring freeze, have led to a slow, cumbersome system that paid lip service to new hires but actually stymied them. By the time top DND bureaucrats agreed to hire a highly qualified health professional — six months or more after he or she had applied — the applicant had taken another job and the process had to begin again.

The problem of mental illness and addictions, which affect one in five Canadians, will not disappear overnight for soldiers, sailors and air force personnel who have been in combat or on peacekeeping missions. One government study says mental illness among vets can double with the passage of time, years after traumatic events occurred.

And altering the bureaucracy of departments related to the military, with its strict top-down command structure, must surely be a daunting prospect for those trying to implement change. But the government, right now, needs to figure out how to fast-track the hiring of mental health professionals to help Forces members who need it.

And, as Senator Romeo Dallaire has recommended, it must alter the fitness-for-deployment rule to find work in its 68,000-strong continent for at least some of the 1,700 people, or 2.5 per cent of its personnel, who are forced out of the military each year.

Veterans Affairs provides both financial support or counselling and retraining for vets, but the government must ensure that those services are immediately available for members who can no longer serve.

Former chief of defence staff Rick Hillier has called for a public inquiry into how the military deals with mental health problems. In the meantime, our Forces members need help immediately.

Ottawa knows what is needed, and must act now.

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9th Canadian soldier dies of apparent suicide
« Reply #39 on: February 12, 2014, 06:07:31 PM »
9th Canadian soldier dies of apparent suicide

CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Wednesday, February 12, 2014 6:41PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 12, 2014 7:07PM EST

Check the Video: http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/9th-canadian-soldier-dies-of-apparent-suicide-1.1683510



Another Canadian soldier has died of an apparent suicide, following a rash of military suicides dating back to late November.

The Department of National Defence has confirmed the death of Warrant Officer Martin Mercier, who was based at the 5 Canadian Division Support Base in Gagetown, N.B.

DND said Mercier was discovered by Fredericton RCMP at his off-base residence on Feb. 10. The exact date of his death has not been confirmed.

While DND did not mention the cause of Mercier’s death, CTV News has confirmed it was suicide. The RCMP is investigating.

“The loss of any soldier is difficult for the military community and our condolences go out to his family and friends,” DND said in a statement.

Eight other soldiers or veterans have died of suicide since late last year, prompting heavy criticism of the resources available to those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other issues.

According to DND, Mercier joined the Canadian Armed Forces in April 1985. He had served in Afghanistan, Rwanda, Somalia and Cyprus.

The Opposition and veterans’ associations have lambasted the military and the Conservative government over the handling of troubled soldiers’ files.

Canadian Forces have said that everything possible is being done to offer services to soldiers with PTSD and provide crisis counselling.

In November, Canada’s top military commander, Gen. Tom Lawson, said the army takes “every death seriously and as such we will explore all facets of these situations to try and learn from them and reduce future occurrences.”

Defence Minister Rob Nicholson recently said that the military has assembled a special team to clear the backlog of technical investigations into soldier suicides.

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/9th-canadian-soldier-dies-of-apparent-suicide-1.1683510#ixzz2t9lgQ4ne


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Ronald Anderson death not counted in military stats
« Reply #40 on: March 01, 2014, 11:41:53 AM »
Ronald Anderson death not counted in military stats

Retired sergeant had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder

CBC News Posted: Mar 01, 2014 1:05 PM AT Last Updated: Mar 01, 2014 1:05 PM AT

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/ronald-anderson-death-not-counted-in-military-stats-1.2556087



Retired Sergeant Ronald Anderson's death earlier this week was the 10th soldier suicide in the country in the past few months, but his death isn't being counted in statistics kept by the Canadian military.

Anderson, 39, served with the Canadian Forces for 21 years and was deployed overseas seven times, including two tours in Afghanistan. He died earlier this week of an apparent suicide at his home in Doaktown, N.B.

Anderson retired last May. He had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

But as a civilian, his suicide isn't counted among the deaths tracked by the Canadian Forces. The Canadian military only records and publishes the suicides of male regular force personnel.

Female suicide numbers are so few they are tracked separately and aren't included in the military's statistics. Neither are suicides by reservists.

And the suicides of veterans like Anderson who have left the military aren't tracked at all.

That's not right, says Geraldine Lefebvre, who is with the Oromocto Legion.

"They should keep the stats on all suicides — veterans, serving members, reservists, retirees," Lefebvre said. "They're probably the only ones who can track it. We normally hear about them through the obituaries or through a friend or family member."
'Heartbreaking'

Melissa Sheridan Embser-Herbert, a contract instructor at St. Thomas University, served in the United States military for more than two decades. She says it's tough to hear about the number of soldiers committing suicide in both countries.

"It's heartbreaking. It's absolutely heartbreaking," she said.

But Embser-Herbert said the public does need to know the numbers to understand whether there's a problem.

"At what point does it become a problem?” Embser-Herbert said.

"You know, one is problematic. But I think we would agree that as numbers climb, we tend to take things more seriously. So there's simply needing to know: is this just an aberration, a few people who couldn't cope or is this something really systemic?"

According to the Canadian Military there were 10 suicides in 2012, the last year for which statistics were published. But that number is likely higher because it doesn't include any women, reservists or soldiers who had already left the military when they died.
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Suicide: Le Royal 22e Régiment perd de nouveau l’un des siens
« Reply #41 on: March 18, 2014, 12:58:09 PM »
Le Royal 22e Régiment perd de nouveau l’un des siens

Ajouté par Nicolas Laffont le 18 mars 2014   9:45.
Enregistré sous Divers
Tags: 3e R22R, Alain Lacasse, suicides, suicides FC

http://www.45enord.ca/2014/03/le-royal-22e-regiment-perd-de-nouveau-lun-des-siens/



Alors que la mission militaire canadienne vient officiellement de prendre fin et que les derniers soldats rentrent au pays ce mardi matin, le Royal 22e Régiment est endeuillé par la perte de l’un des siens… une nouvelle fois.

Originaire de Sorel-Tracy, le caporal Alain Lacasse, 44 ans, du 3e Bataillon du Royal 22e Régiment a été retrouvé pendu chez lui ce lundi après-midi.

Il a été déployé six fois au cours de sa carrière dans les Forces armées canadiennes: à Chypre, en Allemagne, en Israël, en Bosnie (deux fois) et en Afghanistan entre juillet 2007 et février 2008.

Pour son dernier déploiement, le caporal était au camp Nathan-Smith près de Kandahar, en Afghanistan, pour participer notamment à des patrouilles.

Son déploiement en Afghanistan n’a pas été de tout repos. Pour preuve, quelques jours avant la fin de sa mission un homme s’est lancé devant le véhicule dans lequel il se trouvait, portant sur lui des bidons d’essence et des bombes. Le véhicule, a explosé, mais n’a miraculeusement fait aucun blessé.

Également quelques semaines avant son retour au pays, le 6 janvier 2008, le caporal Lacasse perdait deux de ses amis, l’adjudant Hani Massouh et le caporal Éric Labbé, morts dans la chute de leur VBL (véhicule blindé léger) dans un ravin.

Un ancien 22, Dominic April, un des «chums» d’Alain Lacasse était bouleversé par la nouvelle du décès de son ami et a lancé un cri du cœur: «Quand est-ce qu’on va faire quelque chose, pour venir en aide à mes ‘buddies’ qui souffrent et qui ne voient pas de solutions à leur détresse, sinon dans l’abandon et la mort». Et il a poursuivi en soulignant à grands traits «que ce n’est pas vrai que les Forces armées et le gouvernement sont là pour nous aider à nous en sortir».

Au même moment où le Royal 22e Régiment perdait l’un des siens, hier à Petawawa, Tyson Washburn, un  cuisinier militaire originaire du Nouveau Brunswick s’enlevait aussi la vie.

Le caporal Lacasse avait, lui, prévu de faire des balades en Harley cet été avec Dominic… ces balades n’auront pas lieu.

Il était également impliqué dans les commémorations du 100e anniversaire du Royal 22e Régiment et le major-général (ret.) Alain Forand, colonel honoraire du Royal 22e Régiment, écrivait récemment «Si Lacasse n’existait pas, il faudrait l’inventer! Un vrai de vrai [...]».

Je me souviens

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Canadian soldier suicides poorly tracked, veterans groups say
« Reply #42 on: March 24, 2014, 01:14:29 PM »
Canadian soldier suicides poorly tracked, veterans groups say

Canadian Armed Forces, Veterans Affairs do not not track suicides by retired soldiers

By Andre Mayer, CBC News Posted: Mar 24, 2014 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: Mar 24, 2014 5:00 AM ET

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/canadian-soldier-suicides-poorly-tracked-veterans-groups-say-1.2580500



The recent deaths of two Canadian soldiers who fought in Afghanistan have renewed public debate about how to deal with military suicides. But veterans advocates say that the data collected by the Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Canada on how many active and retired army personnel have committed suicide is incomplete, and makes it difficult to help soldiers who may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“If you don’t have all the data, then how are you able to determine the causes and address some of the trends?” says Bruce Poulin, communications manager for Dominion Command of the Royal Canadian Legion in Ottawa.

Canada’s Department of National Defence (DND) has confirmed that two soldiers died in the past week.

Corporal Alain Lacasse, 43, of Valcartier, Que., was found dead in his home on March 17. Police said it was a suicide.

Master Cpl. Tyson Washburn, 37, of Pembroke, Ont., was found dead on March 15. Officials aren't releasing details about his death, but CBC News has learned Washburn appears to have taken his own life.

There has been a spate of soldier suicides in recent months, including three in the span of three days in November.

Three more soldiers died in January. On Jan. 3, Cpl. Adam Eckhardt, a native of Trenton, Ont. who was based with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry at CFB Suffield in Alberta, was found dead.

On Jan. 8, Cpl. Camilo Sanhueza-Martinez, a member of The Princess of Wales’ Own Regiment based in Kingston, Ont., who had fought in Afghanistan, was found dead.

On Jan. 16, Lt.-Col. Stephane Beauchemin, a 22-year veteran who had been deployed to Haiti and Bosnia, died in Limoges, Ont, a small town east of Ottawa.

The deaths of Master Cpl. Washburn and Cpl. Lacasse bring the number of confirmed suicides of Canadian soldiers in 2014 to five.

The difficulty of getting accurate numbers

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) has published figures on soldier suicides up to and including 2012. The numbers show there were 10 suicides in 2012, 21 in 2011 and 12 in 2010.

Poulin says the figures published by the CAF are incomplete, because they only look at men currently serving in the forces and do not include army reservists, those who have retired from the military, or women.

According to the CAF website, “the low number of suicides amongst female CAF members makes the statistical analysis of female rates unreliable.”

The CAF has not published numbers for 2013, but according to Nicole Meszaros, a senior public affairs officer for the Canadian Armed Forces, “in the calendar year 2013, the CAF lost nine members to suicide and another four members whose deaths are under investigation but remain to be officially confirmed as suicide.”

Of the nine confirmed suicides in 2013 cited by Meszaros, one was a woman and three were reservists. Those numbers do not include veterans no longer serving in the military.

A ‘disingenuous’ comparison

The published CAF figures show that over the period of 2005-2009, the suicide rate was 18 deaths per 100,000. This rate is comparable to that for males in the civilian population. According to Statistics Canada figures from 2009, the suicide rate for Canadian males was 17.3.

Poulin says that historically, the official suicide rate for serving soldiers is about 20 for every 100,000 but adds that it's not a complete picture of what's happening.

“By not counting women, reservists and those that leave the military, you’re still looking at 20,” says Poulin. “The question then becomes, OK, but is that an accurate reflection of PTSD and the situation that we are facing right now?”

A 2013 report published by the Department of National Defence found that suicide rates in the CAF have not increased over time, and after age standardization, were lower than those in the Canadian civilian population.

That comparison is “disingenuous,” says Michael Blais, CEO and director of Canadian Veterans Advocacy.

“These men and women are not like those in the [civilian] population,” says Blais. He points out that soldiers are recruited for their mental toughness, and that anything that might trigger a suicide was “not a pre-existing condition – it’s a wound.”

“To compare a wound that was sustained in a military environment to the [psychological difficulties of someone in the] civilian population, that doesn’t cut it,” he says.

'Veterans Affairs has an obligation'

While he takes issue with the suicide figures presented by CAF, Blais says it’s equally concerning that there is no data on the number of veterans who commit suicide after leaving the military.

“We have people who are getting out [of service], and within a year, committing suicide,” says Blais. “So many times, you find out about a suicide literally months after it’s happened.”

The Canadian Armed Forces does not keep track of suicides by retired soldiers, and Blais says neither does Veterans Affairs. CBC made several interview requests to Veterans Affairs, but did not receive a comment.

Blais says that the lack of documentation of suicide among retired veterans hinders efforts to get a proper handle on the scope of PTSD.

“Veterans Affairs has an obligation – we can’t fix this unless we know what’s wrong,” he says.
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Canada: Soldier Suicides Draw Ire over Lack of Veteran Monitoring, Rehabilitation

By PanAm Post Staff on Monday, March 24, 2014

Five in 2014 Open Debate: "We Can’t Fix This Unless We Know What’s Wrong"

http://panampost.com/panam-staff/2014/03/24/canada-soldier-suicides-draw-ire-over-lack-of-veteran-monitoring-rehabilitation/

Two Canadian soldiers and Afghanistan veterans were found dead on March 15 and March 17 — in Quebec and Otario — both in apparent cases of suicide. These deaths follow several in January, bringing the number of confirmed suicides of Canadian soldiers in 2014 to five.

The Department of National Defence published a report in 2013 that indicated Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) suicide rates are similar to those of civilian populations. However, Michael Blais, CEO and director of Canadian Veterans Advocacy, remarked that comparing civilian and soldier suicide rates is “incongruous.”

“To compare a wound that was sustained in a military environment to the [psychological difficulties of someone in the] civilian population, that doesn’t cut it.”

CAF tracks and publishes data on soldier suicides, but the statistics only examine active-duty men, and don’t include reservists, retirees, or women. Veteran Affairs also does not track suicides by retired soldiers, which Blais considers an “obligation.” CAF admits that “the low number of suicides amongst female CAF members makes the statistical analysis of female rates unreliable.”

According to several veteran advocacy groups, this lack of monitoring is not letting CAF, Veterans Affairs, or any other groups help critical populations. Blais says there are “people who are getting out [of service], and within a year, committing suicide.”

Blais and others worry that above all, the scope of PTSD won’t be fully understood until complete data is obtained.

“We can’t fix this unless we know what’s wrong.”
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Memorial held for latest soldier to take his own life
« Reply #44 on: March 24, 2014, 07:58:02 PM »
Memorial held for latest soldier to take his own life

Pressure grows to provide more support to veterans in crisis following latest military suicide

CBC News Posted: Mar 24, 2014 8:02 PM AT Last Updated: Mar 24, 2014 8:02 PM AT

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/memorial-held-for-latest-soldier-to-take-his-own-life-1.2584752



There was a solemn farewell in Central Blissville, N.B., on Monday as the latest Canadian soldier to take his own life was remembered.

Master Cpl. Tyson Washburn, 37, died in Pembroke, Ont., in mid-March as the most recent in a long list of soldiers to commit suicide in recent months, many after struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Washburn joined the Canadian Armed Forces as a cook in 2006 and was deployed to Afghanistan from July to October 2010.

While his family and friends said goodbye in New Brunswick, pressure grew elsewhere in the country to provide more support to veterans in crisis.

Washburn's death came just three days before the last plane load of Canadian soldiers returned home from Afghanistan to promises from government and military leaders that soldiers who fought would be taken care of back home.

But for many who fought, including former soldier Bruce Moncur, those words rung hollow.

"The biggest issue here is the triple-D policy: delay-deny-die policies," said Moncur. "Soldiers are given denials and delays until they get frustrated, throw up hands their hands and don't pursue the services they need."

Moncur was almost killed when an American attack plane opened fire on a group of Canadian soldiers in 2006. He lost five per cent of his brain and had to learn to read and write from scratch.

He has been fighting for a pension ever since and is fighting for others now too.

Moncur is part of a group that recently founded the Afghanistan Veteran's association to support soldiers because the Canadian government is failing them, he said.

"It's a disgrace," said Moncur. "If the government feels they don't have a moral obligation, well then I'm asking Canadians then if they feel they have a moral obligation and to do the job for the government for them."

Moncur said he hopes the association will soon have a chapter in every province, to help ensure soldiers and veterans have a place to turn if they feel abandoned.

Another Canadian Forces soldier, Cpl. Alain Lacasse, 43, committed suicide in his home last week in Valcartier, Que.

In December, Cpl. Sylvain Lelièvre was found dead in the basement of his residence after having taken his own life. Like Lacasse, Lelièvre participated in various missions abroad, including Bosnia and Afghanistan.

In November, three other Canadian veterans who had served in Afghanistan were found dead within in a week. They had taken their own lives.

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