Joint Personnel Support Unit (JPSU) is in disarray

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Joint Personnel Support Unit (JPSU) is in disarray

Post by Jeffery M on Wed 07 Aug 2013, 10:53

OTTAWA — Howard Richmond, charged last week in the brutal stabbing death of his wife, was under the supervision of an Ottawa military rehabilitation unit that is overloaded to the point of being dysfunctional, says a former senior soldier.

There is no way Richmond or any other ill or injured Canadian soldier in the support system could be properly tracked, Barry Westholm told the Citizen.

“It’s in disarray, it’s a disaster,” said Westholm, who until earlier this year was the senior non-commissioned officer overseeing the Joint Personnel Support Unit’s (JPSU) Eastern Ontario region.

The JPSU is the military’s umbrella company for 24 Integrated Personnel Support Centres (IPSCs) across Canada where mentally and physically injured soldiers are supposed to be monitored and sent for appropriate treatment and re-training.

Richmond, who told news media before his arrest that he is being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), was posted into the Ottawa IPSC, which is officially a platoon with a traditional personnel strength of around 30.

According to Westholm, the Ottawa IPSC is now trying to cope with 182 ill and injured, the bulk of whom are “Red Cases” — “high intensity people who need a lot of care” he said.

“When you’re 152 people overborne you can track no-one,” he added. “There is no possible way a section commander can support that load of soldiers.”

If 50-year-old Richmond is found guilty of murdering his wife Melissa, 28, the inadequacies of the system will be at least partly to blame, says Westholm, who recently testified at an inquiry into a soldier’s suicide at Kingston IPSC.

“These things are going to happen,” said Westholm, “because if you go to a unit and basically get dumped down a deep hole without proper leadership it magnifies the injury.

“These people need and expect discipline,” he added. “Rob them of leadership at a time when they need it most and it’s like kicking them in the guts.”

Richmond, a warrant officer, joined the Canadian Forces in 1988 and was a geomatics technician — a job that can include land surveying and mapping.

He had several overseas tours, including Afghanistan.

The ill and injured stay with the support units, typically for up to three years, until they can return to their military careers or, as is most often the case, are transitioned out into civilian life.

The Citizen reported on Saturday that the entire JPSU system is understaffed, underresourced and overcrowded with injured troops.

Although the ill and injured often work off base or attend college and other training facilities, their progress is supposed to be monitored, their whereabouts tracked and reports written.

Staff members at many of the units are overwhelmed with paper work, said Westholm.

Several soldiers posted into the units in various parts of the country have told the Citizen that staff are so overwhelmed the ill and injured are basically left to their own devices.

The Department of National Defence has said it will not specifically discuss the Richmond case, so details of his posting at the unit are unavailable.

DND did not respond to questions Tuesday about the Ottawa IPSC staffing situation, but previously, JPSU head Col. Gerard Blais said he considers the staffing throughout the system to be “adequate” but “challenging” because of a federal government hiring freeze.

JPSU was formed almost five years ago and is recognized to have produced significantly positive results, but since the end of Canada’s fighting mission in Afghanistan it has slowly deteriorated at a time when an increasing number of veterans are coming forward for help.

Retired Brigadier-general Joe Sharpe, who works closely with Senator Romeo Dallaire on issues of mental illness among soldiers, told the Citizen that the military has become more concerned with its public image than with helping soldiers.

“JPSU is the lowest priority,’ he said. “I worry about what some of the young guys will end up doing if you create an environment where the ill and injured feel they can’t make their voices heard. And I know dozens of them.”

JPSU’s decline is, claims Sharpe, a failure of leadership.

“The obligation is on the government — an implied covenant that if you’re injured you’ll be taken care of.”

According to Westholm, the current commander at Ottawa’s IPSC is on a month’s obligatory leave — a so-called annuitant break — which is a requirement of all former military people who return from civilian life to work in the support units.

One section commander is on stress leave, which is an increasing occurrence across the IPSC system.

Westholm warned military brass in his long and detailed resignation letter that because of understaffing and other managerial issues, the support units were in danger of losing track of ill and injured troops in their care “perhaps with mortal results.”

The soldier added: “Given my inability to influence my superiors to correct these critical issues, I am no longer comfortable holding the position of Regimental Sergeant Major as it conflicts with the ethical values instilled in me by my Branch, my Regiment and the Canadian Armed Forces.”

Along with his own superiors and DND brass, Westholm copied the Governor General David Johnston, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, former Defence Minister Peter MacKay and the Canadian Forces Ombudsman.

None replied.

ccobb@ottawacitizen.com

twitter.com/chrisicobb

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

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Re: Joint Personnel Support Unit (JPSU) is in disarray

Post by teentitan on Wed 07 Aug 2013, 11:24

In February of 2011 CFB Borden opened an IPSC. I attended the grand opening. There was the usual opening banter by the Base Commander, MP Patrick Brown and a room full of brass.

No one from the press had any questions so I asked a few. One of them was "Why isn't VAC involved? This is only half way to helping the injured. VAC has the skill set to help the veteran who needs to start the transition to civilian life because the injuries are to severe to continue a career in the CF."

Typical reply of I will convey your concerns to Minister MacKay.

I showed the Major the CO of Southern Ontario JPSU/IPSC the snakes and ladders diagram of the benefits and rehab. His eyes bulged, he fidgeted a bit but said nothing.

I have met Col. Blais. First at a VAC townhall meeting at Borden then at a VAC Stakeholder Meeting.

Did anyone catch the irony of the above statement? I met the head of the JPSU/IPSC at two VAC events! If the JPSU/IPSC program doesn't want VAC involved in their program then why is the CO attending these events?

It's a PARTNERSHIP between DND and VAC. If you don't integrate one with the other then any program is doomed to fail.

So to all the brass in the room at the grand opening in Feb 2011 I have one thing to say to you all..."I told you so!!!"
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New commander for much-criticized support unit

Post by Trooper on Fri 05 Aug 2016, 14:17

Brig.-Gen. Dave Corbould named new commander for much-criticized support unit.

Joint Personnel Support Unit accused of failing military personnel.

Aug 05, 2016

The military's support unit for ill and injured soldiers has a new commander, marking what many hope will be a turning of the page for the much-maligned organization.

Brig.-Gen. Dave Corbould takes over after years of criticism that the Joint Personnel Support Unit has been failing military personnel in need of help.

PTSD diagnoses nearly triple amongst veterans in 8 years
The JPSU is a network of 24 support centres situated at military bases across the country. It is responsible for helping ill and injured military personnel return to active duty or transition out of the Forces.

It has come under criticism for a lack of staffing and an organizational structure that has sometimes made it difficult for personnel to receive the treatment and services they need.

There have also been concerns about injured military personnel sent to the unit feeling isolated and alone, to the point where some have taken their own lives.

Corbould told the Canadian Press that the unit has done some great work since it was established in 2008, but he acknowledged there are problems that need to be addressed.

He says his priority for the next 12 to 24 months will be addressing the staffing issues as well as increasing the budget and other resources to better help military personnel in need.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/dave-corbould-support-unit-1.3708888

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Support unit for ill, injured military personnel short dozens of staff

Post by Trooper on Mon 16 Jan 2017, 06:07

Support unit for ill, injured military personnel short dozens of staff

THE CANADIAN PRESS
Published January 16, 2017 - 5:10am
Last Updated January 16, 2017 - 5:25am

OTTAWA — Dozens of positions at the military's oft-criticized support unit for ill and injured service members, including those suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and other psychological injuries, are empty.

National Defence says it's trying to fill the vacancies at the Joint Personnel Support Unit, which was short 73 staff members - or about 17 per cent of its workforce - in December.

It is also implementing a variety of fixes to make sure the unit can provide the best care possible to military personnel, after years of problems and complaints.

Most of the changes were recommended in a review conducted two years ago, said National Defence spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier, and are expected to be complete by this summer.

But the staffing shortages and pace of reform have prompted anger from one former JPSU member, who resigned from the unit and the military four years ago to protest similar problems.

"If they wanted to fill the positions, they could fill them tomorrow," said retired master warrant officer Barry Westholm, who served as the JPSU sergeant-major from 2009 to 2013.

"They've got the complete Canadian Armed Forces to draw people from. So they're just sitting on their hands. I don't know why they're doing that."

The problems are even more frustrating in the context of this month's murder-suicide in Nova Scotia, Westholm said, where an Afghan vet shot three family members before turning the gun on himself.

"We discussed the potentials of what could happen if we didn't strengthen that damn unit," Westholm said. "They refused to budge an iota to give increased staff, increased training, anything."

National Defence has confirmed retired corporal Lionel Desmond was assigned to the JPSU for a year prior to his release from the military in July 2015.

Family members say he had been struggling with PTSD for years, and sought treatment without success in the days prior to killing his wife, their 10-year-old daughter, his mother and then himself.

Neither National Defence or Veterans Affairs Canada have committed to investigating the treatment Desmond received before and after his release from the military.

While much of the focus has been on Veterans Affairs, Westholm said the JPSU's mandate also requires that it follow up with service members forced to leave the military for medical reasons.

"That is JPSU's job to do," Westholm said. "But they are so overtasked that it's almost impossible to do."

The JPSU was established in 2008, at the height of the war in Afghanistan, and has 24 support centres on major bases across the country and eight satellite offices in communities with sizable military populations.

The purpose is to help physically and mentally wounded military personnel heal and return to their units, or prepare for medical release and transition into the civilian world. The system also provides assistance to the family of members who are killed.

But the system has been plagued with problems in recent years, many of them stemming from understaffing and poor training for those who work in the unit. There have also been concerns about injured military personnel sent to the unit feeling isolated and alone, and some have taken their own lives.

Defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance ordered a review of the system last summer. The military has refused to release the final report.

http://thechronicleherald.ca/canada/1432553-support-unit-for-ill-injured-military-personnel-short-dozens-of-staff
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Re: Joint Personnel Support Unit (JPSU) is in disarray

Post by czerv on Mon 16 Jan 2017, 09:54

Once again. Not the whole story. JPSU (or whatever they call it now) is only part of the problem.
I do not see anywhere mentioned here the medical system of/while in the military. Every JPSU 'client' is also looked after by medical case manager. Some of them not so great. What is their role in this blame game they are playing with JPSU?

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Re: Joint Personnel Support Unit (JPSU) is in disarray

Post by prawnstar on Mon 16 Jan 2017, 11:56

I wonder if the firing of the VCDS had anything to do with this.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/norman-military-relieved-1.3937401

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Re: Joint Personnel Support Unit (JPSU) is in disarray

Post by teentitan on Mon 16 Jan 2017, 12:21

No prawnstar. The JPSU two years ago had their CO, a Col, replaced with a General. Which is why this situation is a headscratcher? If a Gen can't fill the positions with bodies maybe he should be relieved of duties?

I think a smart move to fix this situation is to merge VAC personnel with JPSU/IPSC personnel and put them in one office. Almost every base has a VAC office so wouldn't it be smart to merge them so members in the pipe for medical release only need to go to one office instead of two?
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Re: Joint Personnel Support Unit (JPSU) is in disarray

Post by Guest on Mon 16 Jan 2017, 19:29

I can personally speak on this because I was a member and also was a staff member in the JPSU.  The Unit has come along since its inception but there still remains many pit falls and short comings. The training is simply not available for all staff members, staff levels are so low that staff members can't go on training because you are trying to hold back the surge of inquiries.

I do believe the initial concept was to help returning injured soldiers from Afghanistan with a multitude of needs that not one situation was the same. Then, at some point the CO's of units caught wind of this new unit JPSU and initially thought this new unit did not have enough work.  So, they began to dump there injuried soldiers and yes even their shit pumps that they could not get rid of thru normal channels and found it easier to do it this way. I soon found myself working with more injured members from initial training from Saint Jean and units dumping there members in the JPSU and this made the staff work on members shall we say less desirable then the soldiers that really need the help

Hopeful this practice is fixed but it was still going on in November 2014.  Training  the staff and giving them the right tools to help those that are in need.  BTW, VAC was actually in the same office as the JPSU and that was a big help, but not sure if that is practiced across all bases.  Getting the word out and thru lectures to the troops would help, why wait till your injured.  It reminds me of the lectures on the New Veteran Chaters back in 2006/07 they talked and talked but never really got the point across in regards to changes and the effects it will have on you as an injured soldier.   The JPSU needs to get the word out to the troops this is what we do and what we can help you with.  Not sure of the percentage of troops that actually no what the JPSU does, I am sure it's low.

After my release I never heard from the JPSU, not one call.  They Washed their hands of me as soon as the door closed on the day of my release, to date I have had two calls from VAC that I did not contact them.  We all could do better iob in many areas, but we are going about it the wrong way.  Changes are neeeded in both the military and VAC, they need to take a comnon sense approach which the GOC and VAC do not have.

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Re: Joint Personnel Support Unit (JPSU) is in disarray

Post by teentitan on Tue 17 Jan 2017, 11:01

Your right steelgunner not all JPSU/IPSC had VAC in the same office. Good to hear it worked in your unit.

I can see why they never called after your release. They did their job with you and handed you over to VAC. That is the purpose of this Military idea.

The dumping of the shit pumps (very funny BTW) isn't the purpose of the unit. SCAN seminars are their releasing tool.
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Head of criticized military support unit retires six months after taking job

Post by Trooper on Wed 01 Feb 2017, 15:21

Head of criticized military support unit retires six months after taking job




Head of criticized military support unit retires six months after taking job
OTTAWA — The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017 5:22PM EST
Last updated Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017 5:22PM EST

The commander of the military health unit responsible for mentally and physically injured soldiers is retiring, less than six months after taking over the much-maligned unit and promising to clean it up.

The timing of Brig.-Gen. Dave Corbould’s sudden departure from the Joint Personnel Support Unit, announced Tuesday, has raised eyebrows and concerns about the unit’s future.

But Corbould insists the unit, which is currently supporting about 1,500 ill and injured military personnel across the country, is finally on the right track after a tumultuous first decade of existence.

“It’s much better because it’s more focused, it understands itself better and it is moving forward,” he said in an interview. “And it is not reliant on any one individual. It is a team effort all around.”

Corbould took over the support unit in August, hoping to turn the page on years of complaints and criticism about how Canadian soldiers, particularly those with psychological injuries, were treated.

Many of the criticisms stemmed from understaffing and poor training for those who worked at the unit, a problem that persists even now.

The Canadian Press reported this month that 73 positions were unfilled in the unit December, which represented 17 per cent of its workforce and an increase from the approximately 50 positions that were empty last spring.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/head-of-criticized-military-support-unit-retires-six-months-after-taking-job/article33852781/?
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Military to disband and replace oft-maligned support units for wounded soldiers

Post by Trooper on Wed 12 Apr 2017, 18:43

Military to disband and replace oft-maligned support units for wounded soldiers


By Murray Brewster Apr 12, 2017

Units were created in crisis, Gen. Jonathan Vance says, and time has come to do better


Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance told a Senate committee that he intends to disband the Joint Personnel Support Units, which care for wounded soldiers, and replace them with an organization that will better help members transition out of uniform.

After an attempted overhaul last year, an often-maligned support unit for ill and injured soldiers will be disbanded, the country's top military commander says.

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff, testified before a Senate committee on Wednesday that the function of the Joint Personnel Support Units (JPSUs) will be folded into a "proper, professionalized" organization that will better help members transition to civilian life.

"The JPSU was created in crisis," Vance told reporters following the meeting. "I think enough time has passed, we've gained enough expertise about how to manage this better."

The units were set up in 2008 during the Afghan war as centres where wounded troops could be posted until they recovered or left the military. The 24 personnel-support centres are located at bases and wings across the country, and offer programs and administrative support to troops unable to fulfil their regular duties.

Internal defence department studies have shown few of the soldiers posted to JPSUs returned to their units.

Soldiers have long complained the JPSUs and their subordinate Integrated Personnel Support Centres are habitually understaffed and that the units have often proved unhelpful in preparing them for a post-military career.

Last year, an internal assessment team, ordered by Vance and led by Brig.-Gen. David Anderson, identified myriad problems, many related to staffing and resources.

At the time the report was written, there were approximately 1,400 clients in the system and nearly 50 vacant staff positions out of a total complement of 297.

The report noted that on one base of 8,000 service members, there was only one person manning the support centre where 160 injured soldiers were posted.

The review team told Vance that base commanders often held "a negative view of the JPSU structure" and even troops themselves described the centres in "derogatory terms."

The perception, according to the report, was that the JPSUs housed "lazy" or under-performing troops.

New branch coming, but not soon

The military embarked on an overhaul of the administration, but it was clear in Vance's testimony, and remarks afterward, that the revamping had been abandoned.

He said he intends to re-establish a personnel administration branch, which was scrapped years ago, and many of the JPSU functions and most of its staff will be moved there.

"It's not going to happen in two months. It's going to take some time to do this right," he said. "Doesn't mean that what the JPSU has done has not been brilliant. They have dedicated staff that try to do all they can."

The new organization, which has yet to be named, will have a wider mandate than simply shepherding the ill and injured.

Vance said he wants to see the whole system of human resources within the military "professionalized," noting for the Senate committee that many of the policies governing the current system are decades old.

"As we look to create new, modern, highly agile personnel management policies, I need HR experts. People who are solely dedicated to this. And we don't have that branch anymore," he said.


Retired sergeant major Barry Westholm quit JPSU in 2013. He calls the branch 'understaffed, overtasked, and undertrained.

Barry Westholm, a retired sergeant major who oversaw a JPSU, told CBC News the old personnel administration branch was replaced because "it didn't work."

He said the resurrected structure will need to be different.

The joint personnel support system was actually a "brilliant" concept that was far ahead of its time, Westholm said, but it suffered not only from a lack of staff, but an absence of support from military leaders.

"It was poorly managed," said Westholm, who quit his position at Camp Petawawa, Ont., in 2013 in frustration over the system. "I feel bad. I always knew it was a mess. And I feel very worried, very concerned for all of the people who transitioned through there since 2008-09. Those people, a lot of them, are in crisis."

He said he believes the staffing shortage had far-reaching consequences for troops with post-traumatic stress and may have contributed to a number of suicides.

Military brass have repeatedly defended the system — both in public and before parliamentary committees.

"And now they say they want to create a professional system?" said Westholm. "If you look back, historically, at what they were saying about the JPSU, they were lauding how great it was, how top notch it was, how ill and injured in the Canadian Forces were getting the best care possible.

"The things they said were wrong."

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/wounded-soldiers-centre-1.4068052
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