Ombudsman to probe "FAILING" military support for injured war Vets

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Ombudsman to probe "FAILING" military support for injured war Vets

Post by Ex Member on Mon 26 Aug 2013, 21:59

I found this information while reading the news this evening and taught it would be helpful for some.

OTTAWA — Canada’s military ombudsman has launched a probe into the national network of support units created almost five years ago to help mentally and physically injured troops.

The probe comes less than a month after the Ottawa Citizen reported that the network of 24 support platoons have deteriorated due to overcrowding, chronic staff shortages, staff burnout and the filling of key positions with unqualified personnel, many of whom are on the eve of retirement.

Ombudsman Pierre Daigle decided to launch a review following the Citizen’s coverage and a specific complaint sent to his office, spokesman Jamie Robertson told the Citizen Monday.

Investigators plan to contact all the units and if they find a pattern of systemic failure, could launch a full-fledged investigation, said Robertson.

“We will be trying to find from the people who work there what is happening on the ground,” said Robertson. “We want to get good information from all levels.”

Investigators typically interview less senior staff away from their units and keep their identities secret, he added.

The support units operate under the umbrella of regional Joint Personnel Support Centres and are intended to help the ill and injured troops — mostly Afghan war veterans — either reintegrate into the armed forces or be prepared for civilian life, which is most often the case.

A key requirement introduced in 2006 is that all troops, irrespective of their military job, meet the “Universality of Service” standard, which in effect means being fit enough to fight.

The Opposition NDP have said that the “Universality of Service” introduced by the Conservative government is unfairly restricting many war veterans from resuming their military careers and leaving the service with a pension.

While posted into a support unit, troops will either work on base, learn trades with local businesses or take college courses. Most receive some form of mental or physical therapy and all are supposed to report regularly to their supervisors, who in turn are required to produce regular reports on the ill and injured under their supervision.

Former senior non-commissioned officer Barry Westholm, who resigned to protest the current state of the JPSU system after more than four years overseeing the unit’s vast Eastern Ontario region, told the Citizen that his constant efforts to get extra resources and fundamental changes were all rebuffed by DND senior brass.

“I couldn’t collect a paycheque to be part of that anymore,” he said. “We asked them to go to war and they went. They got beat up over there and now they want to get better. But we’ve set a trap for them. We’re saying, ‘Come on, it’s here. But it’s not.”

Westholm and numerous others confirm that the some units are failing so badly that ill and injured soldiers are left to their own devices while overworked staff attempt to keep up with their work.

There have been at least two recent cases of support unit staff burning out and becoming clients of the system.

DND insists that the staffing levels at the support units are “adequate” and that the welfare of ill and injured troops is a priority.

According to DND, JPSU is currently “offering direct assistance’ to about 5,500 ill and injured Forces members and 533 families of soldiers killed while on duty.

Ombudsman spokesman Robertson says the JPSU review should be complete by early fall

ccobb@ottawacitizen.com

Imagine a difference it could make if some Vets would write to this Ombudman or to C Cobb from the Ottawa Citizen. Your cases could get stronger. Maybe help all of you who have been left behind.

Widow of Veteran

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Re: Ombudsman to probe "FAILING" military support for injured war Vets

Post by Guest on Mon 26 Aug 2013, 22:07

My problem is that I have not found any help for Vets who have committed suicide. What about there spouses, children and families? Where do they get help and support?
Don't tell me to go to the Legion...........it doesn't happen. I've been there and felt very unwanted and left without support. I made calls too for help and support and was told they couldn't help me.
Maybe I should of tried another Legion but I didn't.......I was ashame at that point.

Widow of Veteran

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Re: Ombudsman to probe "FAILING" military support for injured war Vets

Post by Guest on Mon 26 Aug 2013, 22:23


Here is what can happen because the Military is more concerned with it's public image than with helping "soldiers".


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

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Re: Ombudsman to probe "FAILING" military support for injured war Vets

Post by OldZipperhead on Tue 27 Aug 2013, 11:12

Widow of Veteran - thanks for the news and if there is anything I or my wife can do, feel free to ask and we will do our best if it is possible!
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Re: Ombudsman to probe "FAILING" military support for injured war Vets

Post by Guest on Tue 27 Aug 2013, 19:03

Hi OldZipperhead
Thank you for your kindness and your wife`s also.

I realise that I had posted at the wrong location but I was thinking twice here and had to take a second look. I didn`t remember being posted here and was trying to think when I would of done it.................shhhhhh, just woke up from a nap and was confuse.....lol.

Widow of Veteran

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Re: Ombudsman to probe "FAILING" military support for injured war Vets

Post by ghillie on Sun 01 Sep 2013, 13:18

Hello my friends, I have been following every day but just really haven't had the energy to post, I have been trying to get up an at it but this bout has just taken the wind, out of my sails, and I hate posting while I'm in a negative state. WoV I just had to respond to you. When I was releasing there was a case in which a widow had fought VAC with regards to her husbands suicide. He was a Captain, I believe he was Sigs, who had committed suicide as a result of his boss's tyranny. At that time the lawyer who was supposed to be advocating for Vets I think his name was Marconi, something Italian was the one who took credit for getting the application through. They announced the win at a retirement seminar on how to apply for VAC,( something I think should be done at the beginning of your career) I personally would apply for recognition through VAC, your husband's med docs would be substantive of his condition. Hope this helps
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Re: Ombudsman to probe "FAILING" military support for injured war Vets

Post by bigrex on Sun 01 Sep 2013, 15:09

Ghillie, I do agree that if diagnosed as having PTSD, or an OSI, or have document symptoms that could lead one to eventually be diagnosed, suicide should be treated the same as someone who dies from complications of any other injury, and the death benefit should be awarded. Unfortunately VAC has been fighting the link between psychological illnesses and suicide, and that studies released last month, that say suicide rates in the military are not higher that the general population, will only provide VAC with more ammunition.

Obviously the truth will never come out because the CF still remains quiet about suicide victims or their deployments, and suicides rates among Veterans remains untracked. The Harperites do not want the link to deployments and suicides to be confirmed because then they would have to start paying out money that they can otherwise give to their friends.
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