Author Topic: Soldier's mother wonders whether showing suicide video was worth it  (Read 20950 times)

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Canadian_Vet

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Independence not always easy for military police, Langridge inquiry told
« Reply #30 on: October 09, 2012, 11:05:35 PM »
Independence not always easy for military police, Langridge inquiry told

By Chris Cobb, Ottawa Citizen October 9, 2012 8:02 PM

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Independence+always+easy+military+police+Langridge+inquiry+told/7365315/story.html#ixzz28rZvK4JR

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/7365316.bin

OTTAWA — Maintaining professional independence is more difficult for military police officers than for their civilian counterparts, a leading specialist in policing told a federal inquiry Tuesday.

Military police officers are often conflicted, University of Toronto law professor Kent Roach told the Military Police Complaints Commission.

“They are police officers,” he said. “On the other hand they are part of the military and have been subject to chain of command concepts like other members of the military.”

Police independence is a “delicate balance” he added, and a lack of it could give senior officers power to direct their internal police forces to “investigate my enemies but not my friends.

“The rule of law would be offended if anyone told a police officer that they must not, or that they must, investigate or lay charges against a particular person,” he said. “Such directions are the stuff of police states.

“(But) absolute or complete independence would run the risk of creating another type of police state — one in which the police would not be answerable to anyone.”

Roach has worked as an adviser to several high-profile public inquiries including the 1993 Somalia Inquiry, which was partly why the Canadian Forces’ National Investigation Service (NIS), the major crime unit of the military, was created.

The service was set up as a supposedly independent entity not subject to influence of anyone outside the military’s police structure. (During the Somalia investigation it was revealed that military brass refused to allow military police to investigate allegations of serious wrongdoing against soldiers.)

The commission is in the last week of an inquiry into the suicide of Afghanistan veteran Stuart Langridge, who hanged himself at CFB Edmonton in March 2008.

Langridge’s parents claim that the military was negligent in the 28-year-old’s treatment and care and that NIS investigations into his death were a whitewash designed to protect the reputation and careers of his unit and superiors.

Much of the evidence in the latter part of the inquiry has focused on NIS independence and its susceptibility to influence from high echelons of the Canadian military.

“Do you need to be a member of the Canadian Forces to be a military police officer?” Langridge family lawyer Michel Drapeau asked Roach. “Is there anything that would prevent the RCMP from performing the military policing function?”

No, said Roach, who described military police independence as “relatively novel and somewhat fragile.

“Obviously,” he said, “the RCMP would have to be acquainted with the military, but they have to be acquainted with corporations when they investigate corporate crime.”

A senior NIS officer denied last week that a letter to the editor written by Chief of the Defence Staff Walt Natynczyk in the midst of the NIS investigation had any influence on his investigators.

In the letter, Natynczyk appeared to pronounce on the outcome of the Langridge investigation before it was complete.

Because of their dual role as members of the military and police officers within the military, such a statement from the nation’s top soldier could be taken as direction by lower police ranks and their supervisors, said Roach.

There needs to be a balance between the legitimate managerial rights of the Canadian Forces and the “demands of police independence,” he added.

Any public pronouncement from above that sounds like a direction “goes over the line,” he said

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Independence+always+easy+military+police+Langridge+inquiry+told/7365315/story.html#ixzz28ra2pYIH
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Military should have told soldier's family about suicide note: ex-chief
« Reply #31 on: October 10, 2012, 01:05:42 PM »
Military should have told soldier's family about suicide note: ex-chief

Former NIS leader levels direct criticism of investigation service during testimony
 
By Chris Cobb, Ottawa Citizen October 3, 2012

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Military+should+have+told+soldier+family+about+suicide+note+chief/7335126/story.html#ixzz28uzFnyfQ

The former national chief of the Canadian Forces' detective agency told a federal inquiry Tuesday that investigators probing the 2008 suicide of Afghanistan veteran Stuart Langridge didn't tell him that the troubled soldier had left a suicide note.

And in the most direct criticism yet levelled against the National Investigation Ser-vice investigators by a superior officer, retired Lt.-Col. William Garrick told the Military Police Complaints Commission inquiry that it was wrong to keep contents of the note from Langridge's mother and stepfather to whom it was ad-dressed.

In the simple handwritten note, Langridge asked for a private, family funeral.

Unaware of their son's last request, the family agreed to a military funeral. It was 14 months before the NIS revealed that the note existed.

Langridge's mother, Sheila Fynes, has testified that the family was "devastated" when they were eventually handed the note.

Investigators have testified that the suicide note was kept as evidence and then forgotten, but they also admitted that when Langridge's former common-law wife asked whether he had left a note, they did not tell her.

Garrick told commission lawyer Mark Freiman that even if the note was held for evidence, the NIS should not have kept its contents hidden.

"Is it personal property?" asked Freiman.

"My gut feeling - my opinion - is that it would be," said the former NIS chief.

"Should it have been re-turned?"

"I would make that assumption. Yes," he said. "At minimum, the unit and the family should be (immediately) aware of that."

The inquiry, which ends next week, is being held to investigate complaints by the Fynes that - among other things - the NIS investigation was biased in favour of the military and that the police force is not independent from the military.

According to documents and testimony, the chief investigator's case summary and conclusions were both doctored - edited, say his NIS superiors - to remove potentially embarrassing and incriminating information.

The investigator's one-paragraph conclusion was re-worded to emphasize that the military had done all it could to help Langridge and that the soldier's mental health issues were caused by his alcohol and drug abuse and not the opposite, as his parents claim.

During questioning by the Fynes' lawyer, Michel Drapeau, Garrick rejected the suggestion that the NIS is not independent.

"You are paid, promoted and pensioned by the Canadian Forces," said Drapeau. "You are subject to orders, regulations, customs and traditions of the Canadian Forces, so I would look at it as you being an internal police force.

"Your warrant officer or sergeants go to interview some-one of the rank of a regiment-al sergeant major - a semi-God - and they can't help but be very respectful to the position because of the indoctrination of the Canadian Forces," he added.

Garrick, now a consultant, countered: "If they are cowed or subdued by rank, they aren't NIS material."

"In my time, even as a corporal, I was arresting captains, majors and chief war-rant officers."

The inquiry continues.

ccobb@ottawacitizen.com

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© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Military+should+have+told+soldier+family+about+suicide+note+chief/7335126/story.html#ixzz28uzNoepI
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After 62 days and 92 witnesses, Langridge inquiry comes to a close
« Reply #32 on: October 10, 2012, 10:01:09 PM »
After 62 days and 92 witnesses, Langridge inquiry comes to a close

Probe into soldier’s suicide longest in complaints commission’s history
 
By Chris Cobb, Ottawa Citizen October 10, 2012 8:01 PM

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/After+days+witnesses+Langridge+inquiry+comes+close/7371054/story.html#ixzz28xA7GUTK

OTTAWA — The marathon and often controversial inquiry into the suicide of Afghanistan veteran Stuart Langridge ended Wednesday after sitting for 62 days and hearing 92 witnesses.

It was only the third public hearing in the 13-year history of the Military Police Complaints Commission but by far the longest.

The first, into sexual assault allegations against two military police officers, lasted five days, and the second, into the treatment of Afghan detainees, less than 30 days.

Cpl. Langridge hanged himself in March 2008 at CFB Edmonton after being ordered back to the base at the end of 30 days of psychiatric care.

Langridge told one doctor that he would rather kill himself than return to base and asked to continue his treatment. He killed himself 10 days after his request was refused.

The military says it did all it could for the troubled soldier and maintains his problems were rooted in his alcohol and drug abuse.

Langridge’s mother and stepfather, Sheila and Shaun Fynes, say he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following his war deployment.

The commission hearing was launched to investigate allegations by the Fynes’ that the military’s National Investigation Service (NIS) was biased and flawed.

The Langridge inquiry, controversial to the end, now moves into the report-writing phase with an unresolved complaint by the Fynes’ lawyer, Michel Drapeau, over the distribution of the interim report. According to the law governing the commission, that report will be kept from the family.

Drapeau told the Citizen he intends to formally ask Defence Minister Peter MacKay to allow the Fynes’ to see and comment on the interim report.

During Wednesday’s testimony, commission lawyer Mark Freiman asked the former head of the NIS whether a defensive ‘media blitz’ led by Chief of the Defence Staff Walter Natynczyk could have been construed as interference in the NIS investigation.

In a 2010 letter to the editor, Natynczyk appeared to pronounce on the outcome of the NIS probes before they were finished and in apparent disregard for the police unit’s independence.

“I don’t know where he got that information,” said Gilles Sansterre. “He certainly didn’t get it from the NIS. We were continuing on with that investigation and if we had found otherwise we would have reported on that.”

“Did it cause you or anyone else at NIS concern?” asked Freiman.

“I don’t recall it causing me any concern,” said Sansterre. “It’s preferable he doesn’t comment on them but we would still continue our independent investigation and come up with our findings.

“Gen. Natynczyk would never suggest how we do our investigations and if we came up with a different finding we would report on that different finding.”

The issue of NIS independence from the regular military was a major theme in the latter stages of the inquiry with allegations that the regular Canadian Forces influenced an NIS news release.

Sansterre told federal Justice Department lawyer Elizabeth Richards that NIS keeps details of its investigations to itself until they are finished, adding that the Canadian Forces never edited or influenced any of its reports during its investigations of the Langridge suicide.

Commission chairman Glenn Stannard asked Sansterre why his recall of details of the Langridge case was poor.

“I don’t know,” said Stannard, “how many times I heard today ‘don’t know the details, I can’t recall, don’t really know.’”

Sansterre said he was dealing with more than 150 ongoing investigations.

“I don’t have details of each and every one of those investigations,” he said. “I leave that to officers commanding.”

“In three years (you were NIS head) how many suicides in military bases would NIS have investigated?” Stannard asked.

“I would say between 10 and 20 or 25,” he said.

But, he conceded, the Langridge case was unique in its implications and profile.

“Would that not put it right at the top for you as the NIS commander?” asked Stannard. “Wouldn’t you know more about that case than any other?”

“Not necessarily,” Sansterre replied.

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Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/After+days+witnesses+Langridge+inquiry+comes+close/7371054/story.html#ixzz28xACQFoF
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Sylvain Chartrand CD

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Letter from MND to CVA concerning the Fynes - MPCC
« Reply #33 on: October 15, 2012, 01:13:54 PM »
Bear in mind, there is no need for Client -Solicitor privilege as the Fynes have formally waived their right to sue in order that justice may be served. There is no, as I understand it, legal reason to support this restrictive mandate. I would also note that the response came AFTER the hearings last witness had spoken. How can justice be served when the commissioner, who is to decide, is being deliberately denied access to the information he needs? 

Lest we forget.

 

Dear Mr. Blais:

Thank you for your email of August 31, 2012, concerning the Military
Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) Fynes Public Interest Hearing.

You refer to my letter of June 21, 2012, to the MPCC Chairperson, which
responds to his request that I waive solicitor-client privilege in
respect of legal advice provided by departmental legal advisors in
matters relating to the unfortunate death of Corporal Stuart Langridge.
In my letter to the Chairperson, I explain why I must decline his
unusual and exceptional request for a waiver. I have attached a copy of
this letter for your information.

You suggest that a failure to waive solicitor-client privilege in the
Fynes Public Interest Hearing may impede justice. As I indicate in my
letter to the Chairperson, the protection of solicitor-client privilege
is of fundamental importance to the administration of justice in Canada.

I am truly concerned about our veterans, and I am deeply sympathetic to
Mr. and Mrs. Fynes's loss. Nevertheless, as a Minister of the Crown, I
must remain guided by principle. The protection of solicitor-client
privilege is of fundamental importance to the administration of justice.
As I indicate in my letter to the Chairperson, it is the intent of
Parliament that the MPCC can and should accomplish its mandate without
access to privileged communications between lawyers and clients.

I trust that this is of assistance, and thank you again for writing.


Sincerely,


Peter MacKay
Minister of National Defence

Sylvain Chartrand CD

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MacKay denies parents access to report on suicide
« Reply #34 on: October 15, 2012, 01:18:57 PM »
MacKay denies parents access to report on suicide

Read more: http://www.leaderpost.com/MacKay+denies+parents+access+report+suicide/7389865/story.html#ixzz29OHaQieM

Postmedia News October 15, 2012

Defence Minister Peter MacKay says that he will not clear the way for the parents of Afghanistan war veteran Stuart Lan-gridge to be involved in the final phase of the inquiry into their son's suicide.

MacKay's refusal brought an angry response Sunday from Langridge family lawyer Michel Drapeau, who accused the minister of ignoring the military family's right to justice.

The public segment of the Military Police Complaints Commission inquiry into Langridge's 2008 suicide at CFB Edmonton ended last week after sitting for 62 days and hearing from 92 witnesses.

The next step is the production of an interim report, followed by a final report that is unlikely to be published before the spring of 2014.

Crucially, under the National Defence Act only various arms of the military are allowed to see, or comment privately, on the interim report - essentially locking Langridge's parents, Sheila and Shaun Fynes, out of that final phase. Nor does the law put any time limit on the military during this period.

Only MacKay could have allowed the Fynes and their lawyer access to the interim report and given them a role in secret discussions it will provoke between the MPCC and military.

The minister's refusal to intervene means the Fynes will only get to see the final report and its recommendations the day it's publicly released.

Drapeau told the Ottawa Citizen that he intends to formally ask the minister to lift the restriction and allow the Fynes into the process as MPCC works towards its final report.

But a spokesman for MacKay told the Citizen at the weekend that the minister would not intervene.

"The Government has been committed to co-operating with the MPCC to the fullest extent possible including funding provided to the Fynes family for legal representation," said the spokesman, "and the Minister won't interfere with an ongoing process".

The complaints commission's public hearings were launched last March to examine the Fynes' allegations that the military's National Investigation Service (NIS) probes into their son's death was biased and flawed and intended to protect the military.

Drapeau says he fears that the military brass will use its "unique and substantial advantage" of sole access and use the interim findings to influence the final report and implement cosmetic measures in advance of recommendations that they will know are coming.

Retired army colonel Drapeau said Sunday that MacKay was rejecting a "simple plea for fairness and equity.

"I would have expected better, much better, from the Honourable Peter MacKay, a Minister of the Crown who, after all, is, first and foremost, an elected official accountable to the public - which includes the mothers and fathers of our brave soldiers - not the military brass," Drapeau said.
© Copyright (c) The Regina Leader-Post

Read more: http://www.leaderpost.com/MacKay+denies+parents+access+report+suicide/7389865/story.html#ixzz29OHlMG4E

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Soldier's 2008 suicide should be a springboard for change, lawyer argues
« Reply #35 on: January 09, 2013, 04:20:25 PM »
Soldier's 2008 suicide should be a springboard for change, lawyer argues

By: Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

Posted: 3:31 AM | Comments: 0 | Last Modified: 1:46 PM

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/canada/closing-arguments-to-be-heard-in-inquiry-into-suicide-of-canadian-corporal-186128952.html



OTTAWA - The pain and suffering endured by the family of an Edmonton soldier who killed himself should be used as a springboard for systemic changes to the treatment of veterans and their loved ones, the family's lawyer said Wednesday.

The investigations into the 2008 suicide of Cpl. Stuart Langridge were handled in an inept and inexperienced manner, retired colonel Michel Drapeau told the Military Police Complaints Commission hearing.

"It has created an extra layer of pain and turmoil that was preventable and correctable, had a modicum of transparency, accountability and basic compassion been displayed from senior military leaders," Drapeau said.

After eight months of work and 92 witnesses, the hearing ended Wednesday, with Drapeau and lawyers for the government pressing their case for a final time.

The public interest hearing was convened following complaints from Langridge's family that the investigation into their son's death was biased and designed to absolve the military.

Langridge, a veteran of Afghanistan and Bosnia, hanged himself in March 2008 after being ordered back to base following treatment for drug and alcohol addiction in a civilian hospital.

His family contends the military treated him as a malcontent, and that helped drive him over the edge.

Langridge's reasons for taking his own life aren't for the hearing to decide, said Drapeau. What matters, he argued, is how the investigation was carried out.

"Each of the three (National Investigation Service) investigations were conducted in an unsubstantiated manner," Drapeau said.

"Taken together, these investigations aptly demonstrate the NIS lacks experience, expertise, structure and independence to conduct these types of investigations."

Lawyers for the federal government asserted otherwise, noting the 13 military police officers who are the subject of the complaint by Langridge's family have between five and 23 years of experience each.

"This commission cannot ignore the practical and legal limits that police officers operate under when they exercise their powers," said lawyer Korinda McLaine.

McLaine said the government believes the commission's focus should be narrow in scope: whether the steps taken and conclusions reached by the 13 MPs fell within the range of reasonable outcomes, given the policies available to them at the time.

"You must not hold the subjects to a standard of perfection or ask if, given what we now know, the same decisions would have been made," she said.

The inquiry heard how military police concealed Langridge's suicide note from his parents for 14 months, claiming the sheet of paper was evidence in a suspicious-death probe. The investigators stuck to the line even though the coroner at the scene described it as a clear-cut case of suicide.

Had the note been released immediately, several subsequent complications — including difficulties figuring out who was Langridge's next of kin and what kind of funeral he wanted — could have been avoided, the hearing was told.

But the NIS has acknowledged it mishandled the note and has improved its procedures since, McLaine said.

"Although it may be tempting to look back on the investigations with the perfect lens of hindsight, that would not be fair to the subjects in this complaint," she said.

There were also conflicting claims about whether the troubled soldier was on a suicide watch prior to his death. If so, the military would have been liable for his death.

The inquiry also heard how the final military police report into the death was heavily rewritten and censored.

Sgt. Matthew Ritco, the lead investigator, testified that direction came down from "higher'' to create two case summary files, one written by him and another rewritten version to be delivered to the chain of command, including Langridge's commanding officer.

The final draft removed all but one reference to the victim having been on suicide watch before his death.

All of this was to protect the military, not respect Langridge or his family, Drapeau said.

"The army, and its commanders, are considered and treated as a brand that needs protecting," he said.

"This means that, if there is wrongdoing by the chain of command, and it becomes public knowledge, there is an entire team of CF public affairs officers committed to ensuring that the outcomes are projected in a way that best protects the brand. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened here."

Commission chair Glenn Stannard was urged to not examine the case through a political lens, despite the attention the case has drawn since 2008.

"You must not be swayed by the political debate and rhetoric, you must not be influenced by the publicity surrounding this issue and you must be cautious and rigorous in your examination of the veracity of the allegations," McLaine said.

A report from the commission will take months to complete; an interim version is first submitted to political and military leadership before a final version is released publicly.

Langridge's parents said the close of the hearing was a milestone moment.

"We put Stuart's most personal parts of his life on display — and this family, too," said his mother, Sheila Fynes.

"And I hope it wasn't for nothing. Some positive change has to happen here. We'll see."

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Canadian Military Officers Don’t Want To Admit There Are Problems With System Treating Mentally Injured Soldiers, Says Soldier’s Mother

http://blogs.ottawacitizen.com/2013/01/12/canadian-military-officers-dont-want-to-admit-there-are-problems-with-system-treating-mentally-injured-soldiers-says-soldiers-mother/



My Ottawa Citizen colleague Chris Cobb has filed this article:

OTTAWA — The marathon federal inquiry into the suicide of 28-year-old Afghanistan War veteran Cpl. Stuart Langridge came to an emotional end Wednesday with the late soldier’s tearful mother vowing to continue her fight for mentally injured veterans.

“It’s been a long road,” said Langridge’s mother, Sheila Fynes, after the 63-day hearing ended with final submissions from government and family lawyers. “We’re glad this part’s over.”

Fynes and her husband, Shaun, brought 32 allegations to the Military Police Complaints Commission against 13 members of the military’s detective agency, the National Investigation Service (NIS).

They claim that three separate investigations into Stuart’s death were botched and were more concerned with protecting the military than with seeking the truth behind his death.

The Victoria couple has not asked for compensation from the government. They say they forced the public inquiry in an effort to ensure better treatment for mentally injured solders — treatment Sheila Fynes said has yet to improve.

“I think they (the military) talk a pretty good talk, but … we’ve yet to see any evidence that things have changed,” she said. “We truly brought all this up because we hope it will be a catalyst for change. What we see now from military officers is no real admission that there is anything wrong with the system.”

Federal Justice Department lawyers representing the 13 military detectives insist the policemen did their best with the information they had at the time of their investigations and “acted at all times in a professional and reasonable manner.

To read more go here:

Original source article: Langridge inquiry concludes; report likely to take more than a year http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Langridge+inquiry+concludes+report+likely+take+more+than+year/7797321/story.html

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Canadian military abandoning soldiers at home
« Reply #37 on: March 01, 2013, 08:11:57 PM »
Canadian military abandoning soldiers at home

Garret Dwyer-Joyce, W5 Staff
Published Friday, Mar. 1, 2013 5:00PM EST

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/w5/canadian-military-abandoning-soldiers-at-home-1.1177907#ixzz2MLALARUh



Despite trying to maintain journalistic objectivity, any story about death in a family can tear a piece out of a reporter’s heart.

Take the case of Shaun and Sheila Fynes and their son, Cpl. Stuart Langridge. His story is a spiral from a decorated, successful soldier to depression, despair, drug and alcohol abuse and, finally, his tragic, lonely suicide by hanging in March 2008 at the Canadian Forces Base in Edmonton. He was 28.

“It’s beyond comprehension to me that my son should be so unhappy,” said his mother, Sheila.

It's beyond comprehension because Stuart was a soldier who loved what he did.

He joined the Cadets at the age of 12, moved to the Reserves and finally to the regular army when he was 19, serving as a tank gunner in Lord Strathcona’s Horse, an armoured regiment based in Edmonton.

One performance evaluation by his Army superiors said that Stuart “Possesses above average potential for promotion.”

But something changed when Stuart went to Afghanistan in 2004. Something terrible happened there, something that Stuart wouldn’t talk about. By the time he came back to Canada he was different man.

“We started to hear that he wasn’t sleeping well,” said his mother. “He was having nightmares and night terrors and we were aware that he was starting to drink more than he had in the past.”

No official diagnosis

Tests showed Stuart had the symptoms of PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. But the diagnosis was never made official.

“No one wanted to look past the symptoms,” said Sheila. “And because he didn’t disclose a specific incident, therefore it couldn’t happen. But Stuart said, ‘I can’t talk about my stuff because if I do it’s a career ender.’”

But by 2007, Stuart’s career had already stalled and that sent him spinning deeper into depression. He was in and out of hospital, drinking, taking drugs and he tried to take his own life five times.

“As a mom, I was just so worried,” said Sheila . “He said I need help. And I said, 'You need to go to the army.' I know that they will get you into a rehab somewhere. They look after their men.”

But now Sheila believes the military failed her son.

At 3:30 on the afternoon of March 15th, 2008, Stuart was found dead – hanging in his room at the Canadian Forces Base in Edmonton.

The Fynes got a phone message from the base commander. When Shaun called back he learned his stepson was dead.

“And Sheila shrieked, I told them this would happen,” said Shaun. “Sheila had been told three or four days before that he was safe, that he was being watched 24/7.”

The army calls that close monitoring “a Suicide Watch,” but Sheila believes their son wasn’t watched closely enough.

“Our son should not be dead,” said Sheila.

It was sad enough to lose their son, but learning about the way Stuart’s body was treated after his death only added to their grief.

More grief for stricken family

“It was almost quarter after seven at night when they cut him down,” said Sheila. “They found him at 3:30. Four hours they left him. They left him as they found him.”

As more details of the Military Police investigation into Stuart’s suicide came to light, the Fynes’ grief turned to anger. A suicide note he had written before his death was kept secret for 14 months.

“That’s the one thing that they really haven’t been able to explain away,” said Sheila. “They say that it’s regretful, that they changed their policy. Somebody else said they forgot.”

At the end of the note, Stuart wrote, “I don’t deserve any kind of fancy funeral, just family.” But that didn’t happen.

“We didn’t acknowledge and recognize his wishes because we were unaware of them,” said Shaun. “Stuart had a military funeral at CFB Edmonton.”

Apart from the funeral, there were mix-ups over Stuart’s pension and will, leaving the Fynes with so many unanswered questions. And three Military Police inquiries – inquiries where the military investigated itself – didn’t satisfy the Fynes.

Finally, in 2012, the Military Police Complaints Commission, an independent body run by civilians, agreed to hear their case. Shaun and Sheila sat through eight months of testimony and listened to 92 witnesses. It was as painful experience as, once again, Stuart’s last hours were exposed and his death examined in every detail.

The Military Police took the position that everything had been done properly except for a few human errors. But some of the facts that emerged were truly shocking.

The original report that was written soon after Stuart’s death referred several times to “a list of personnel available to assist in a suicide watch on Corporal Langridge.”

But there was a second version, written three days later, and all references to that list had been removed.

“When I read the second report, it’s been polished,” said Michel Drapeau, a former colonel in the Canadian Army who is now a lawyer and represents the Fynes. “It’s been reduced. It’s been made to present a picture that is incomplete, that is beneficial to the organization that is the chain of command, and certainly damaging to Stuart Langridge.”

W5 requested an interview with the Military Police, but they turned us down and issued a statement which ended with the words, “We are confident that the MPCC final report will provide a balanced and fair assessment of our investigations into the death of Corporal Stuart Langridge.” Read the full statement here. [Link to PDF]

The Military Police Complaints Commission report probably won’t be published until 2014, but it has no teeth, no power to hold any individual responsible. All it can do is to provide findings and recommendations.

Drapeau hopes that one of those recommendations will be to hand over cases of suicide in the military to the Coroner’s Office, as happens in the United Kingdom. This would mean investigations would be taken away from the military to be handled by police or civilians.

Watch CTV W5's 'Dying for Help' Saturday @ 7 p.m.

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/w5/canadian-military-abandoning-soldiers-at-home-1.1177907#ixzz2MLAZe8N5


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How Serious is the Canadian Forces About Understanding Suicide Among the Ranks?

May 14, 2013. 1:15 am • Section: Defence Watch

http://blogs.ottawacitizen.com/2013/05/14/how-serious-is-the-canadian-forces-about-understanding-suicide-among-the-ranks/

By David Pugliese

Defence Watch

How serious is the Canadian Forces about understanding suicide among the ranks?

Last week I had an article in the Citizen pointing out that the Canadian Forces still has not completed inquiries into 50 suicides among military members, some from as far back as five years ago.

The military has boards of inquiries under way into the 50 deaths, including four from 2008 and seven from 2009.

Seven boards are still underway for suicides in 2010 and 20 for 2011. The 2011 inquiries include the suicide of corporals in Ottawa and Petawawa.

A board of inquiry (BOI) into the suicide of another corporal at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa in December is one of 12 now under way for 2012.

The information was recently tabled in the House of Commons after a request by a Liberal MP. The figures indicate that the military has completed 19 BOIs into suicides since 2008.

The Canadian Forces and DND say they are focused on doing a top notch job on such BOIs.

In an email to the Citizen, the Defence Department noted that BOIs do not have fixed end dates. “The issues under investigation are both important and complex, and it is important that the Canadian Armed Forces take the time necessary to get them right,” the email noted.

A BOI is an internal, non-judicial, administrative fact-finding investigation. They are intended to allow the Chief of the Defence Staff and other members of the chain of command to obtain a better understanding of incidents affecting the functioning of the Canadian Forces, the department added.

Others question why the BOIs are taking so much time. “Why a BOI can’t complete its work in a timely fashion escapes me,” said Liberal defence critic John McKay.

Some families of those who committed suicide also point out that such boards are made up of individuals who still have to do their regular duties. They sometimes get posted out. Other times they have to go on course. So some BOIs simply drag on, giving the impression that the CF doesn’t care, family members add. A number have also noted that the BOIs don’t seem keen to probe too deeply into the issues at play.

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Military Police Complaints Commission Issues Interim Report into the Fynes Complaint

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/1889351#ixzz30U5mvqGf

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - May 1, 2014) - The Military Police Complaints Commission (the Commission) issued today its Interim Report dated April 30, 2014, into a complaint related to the Military Police investigations conducted following the death of Corporal (Cpl) Stuart Langridge.

Cpl Langridge committed suicide at Canadian Forces Base Edmonton on March 15, 2008. He had served in Bosnia and Afghanistan. His parents, Sheila and Shaun Fynes, filed a formal complaint with the Commission relating to three investigations conducted by the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS) following the death of their son.

The Commission held a Public Interest Hearing (PIH) into the Fynes complaint. The Commission began hearing evidence on March 27, 2012. Commission Chairperson Glenn Stannard presided over the PIH, which sat for 62 hearing days and heard evidence from 90 witnesses.

"This has been a lengthy and complex case with multiple allegations related to three separate investigations by the CFNIS" said Mr. Stannard.

The Interim Report sets out the Commission's findings and recommendations with respect to the complaint. As required by the National Defence Act, the Commission issued its Interim Report to the Minister of National Defence, the Chief of the Defence Staff, the Judge Advocate General and the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal (CFPM).

The CFPM, as the chief of the Military Police, will review the Interim Report and must provide a Notice of Action to the Chairperson of the Commission and to the Minister of National Defence of any action that has been taken or will be taken with respect to the Commission's findings and recommendations. The CFPM must provide reasons for not acting on any of the findings and recommendations in the Interim Report.

After receiving the Notice of Action, the Commission will publish a Final Report. The Commission will provide its Final Report to the complainants and the members of the Military Police who were subjects of the complaint. The Report will also be released to the public and posted on the Commission's website.

The Military Police Complaints Commission was established in 1999 by the Government of Canada to provide independent civilian oversight of the Canadian Forces Military Police. By reviewing and investigating complaints concerning Military Police conduct and by investigating allegations of interference in investigations, it promotes and ensures the highest standards of Military Police conduct and provides for greater public accountability by the Military Police and the Chain of Command.
Michael Tansey, Communications Advisor,
Military Police Complaints Commission
Cell: (613) 851-4587
(613) 487-3765
michael@tancom.ca
www.mpcc-cppm.gc.ca

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/1889351#ixzz30U5rZJrx
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Only Department of National Defence Allowed To See Report About Suicide of Afghan Veteran – Soldiers’ Parents Cut Out of the Loop

May 1, 2014. 7:26 pm • Section: Defence Watch

http://blogs.ottawacitizen.com/2014/05/01/only-department-of-national-defence-allowed-to-see-report-about-suicide-of-afghan-veteran-soldiers-parents-cut-out-of-the-loop/

Chris Cobb of the Ottawa Citizen has this:

OTTAWA — The Military Police Complaints Commission issued its interim report Thursday into the suicide of Afghanistan veteran Cpl. Stuart Langridge, but only the Department of National Defence is allowed to see it.

Langridge’s mother and stepfather, Sheila and Shaun Fynes, are the complainants, but neither they nor their lawyer Michel Drapeau are legally entitled to see a copy of the interim document. They will get a copy of the final report, but only on the day it is released publicly.

The late soldier’s family is being “left out in the cold,” Drapeau said Thursday.

“It is the law, but it’s a bad law,” he said. “It’s offensive that they aren’t allowed to see a report about their son.”

The Fyneses brought 30 complaints against 13 members of the National Investigation Service (NIS), which is the military’s internal detective agency.

They said the initial NIS investigation into their son’s death was a whitewash intended to protect their son’s superiors at CFB Edmonton and that a second NIS probe into the original investigation was also biased.

There was widespread outrage when it was revealed that the military police had found Langridge’s simple, handwritten suicide note at the scene of his death but kept it hidden from his family for 14 months.

Langridge, 28, suffered from depression and before he hanged himself at the Edmonton base in March 2008, his parents claim, he was dismissed by superiors, and ultimately the NIS, as a drunk and drug user.

But the Fyneses say he was at the leading edge of what is now widely recognized as a post-traumatic stress disorder epidemic among Afghanistan veterans.

Commission hearings began on March 27, 2012, and heard from a record 90 witnesses over 62 days.

The interim report, which contains the commission’s findings and recommendations, has been sent to Defence Minister Rob Nicholson, Chief of the Defence Staff Tom Lawson, the judge advocate general and the Canadian Forces provost marshal (CFPM).

Drapeau, a retired colonel, complained at the end of the hearings that the secrecy surrounding the interim report allowed DND brass to “cherry pick” and institute cosmetic changes while simultaneously denying the family any input.

“The (commission) is investigating their complaints about the loss of their cherished son,” Drapeau said. “No one has a bigger interest in the outcome of these hearings than Mr. and Mrs. Fynes. Providing them with a copy of the interim report should be a no-brainer.

“You don’t cut people off at the penultimate stage, shut the door and say, ‘You can’t come in here,” said Drapeau. “And that’s exactly what will happen.”

The complaints commission has no power to order changes and can only make recommendations.

Officially, the military police and its lawyers must review the recommendations and report on whether changes have been made, and if not, explain why not.

Drapeau, who had tried and failed to get a copy of the interim report for the Fyneses, said the DND’s civilian deputy minister should be overseeing the department’s response to the commission’s interim report and that it shouldn’t take more than a month for them to produce that response. (The complaints commission imposes no deadline on DND).

“Mr. and Mrs. Fynes are ordinary Canadian citizens who have brought their complaints to a civilian body.” he added. “This is an issue for civilian society, not the military, so civilian eyes should be looking at this interim report. I’m not being critical of the military police, but this is too big for them to be allowed to say, ‘We’ll fix it, sir. Now go away.’”

Sheila Fynes said Thursday that she remains dismayed that veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental injury are continuing to commit suicide.
“The response today seems to have changed little from the response six years ago,” she said. “Stuart was at the leading edge of it and was painted to be a terrible person. It still enrages me.”
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