Long-time soldier says military pushed him out due to his mental illness

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Long-time soldier says military pushed him out due to his mental illness

Post by Guest on Mon 11 Apr 2016, 05:56

Colin Evans admits to excessive drinking, but says it was caused by severe depression

The Canadian military has discharged a soldier suffering from severe depression without a medical release, which means he is not eligible for long-term disability support, re-education, retraining or other benefits.

"After all my hard work that I have given to this country, it very much feels like I'm being thrown out as an embarrassment," says Colin Evans, who is originally from Saskatchewan. "It's heartbreaking."

The former captain who served in the Armed Forces for almost 17 years attempted suicide twice and has been diagnosed as having major depressive disorder

Last week, the military released him, citing numerous alcohol-related incidents.

Evans says he abused alcohol because he's suffering from mental illness and wants the military to do a better job of recognizing the toll a soldier's job can take on their health.

Wants a 'medical release'

He has filed a grievance with the military, a final attempt to have his mental illness fully recognized and get a medical release.

"The army has to acknowledge that there are people suffering from mental illness out there," he says.

Go Public asked the Canadian Armed Forces for an interview, but a spokesperson declined our request.

We also requested an interview with the head of the Department of National Defence, cabinet minister Harjit Sajjan.

Evans pleaded his case to Sajjan in a letter two months ago.

No one from Sajjan's office responded to our emails, so CBC caught up with the minister at a press conference.

"Regrettably it's the first time I heard of this case," said Sajjan. "So I really can't comment on that."

He said the wellness of Canadian troops is a priority, "but there's clearly some work that needs to be done to make sure we address the needs of all our members."

Later, one of Sajjan's aides said he couldn't comment due to privacy reasons.

Troubled past

During his time with the military, Evans was involved in numerous drinking incidents, including drinking while driving and assaulting his common-law spouse.

"Drinking was a poor strategy to survive," he says. "I'm not proud of my past."

He says working for the military was extremely stressful, particularly the six months he spent in Afghanistan in 2011.

"It was complete denial of reality," says Evans. "I mean, indirect fire coming in, you just say to yourself, 'No, we're good. We're OK.'

"You can't show weakness. You gotta be strong all the time."

When he returned from Afghanistan, he says, his depression was worse. He couldn't sleep, he felt "worthless, helpless, hopeless, like life is not worth living."

Diagnosed with mental illness

Dr. Curtis Woods, a psychiatrist with Alberta Health Services, diagnosed Evans as having major depressive disorder and alcohol use disorder.

"What Colin has experienced is psychological stress that's been cumulative over time," says Woods.

But Woods says the military doesn't understand mental illness very well.

"It is complex, and it doesn't fall into a black box or a white box."

Woods wants the military to give his patient a medical release to ensure he doesn't begin drinking again, or possibly harm himself.

"I believe that the medical benefits he's excluded from receiving are actually essential for his further rehabilitation and reintegration," Woods says.

In what's called an administrative review, the military said giving the soldier a medical release would be "problematic, because it would involve disregarding the member's misconduct."

Evans was released under a provision called "not advantageously employable," after it was ruled he was aware of right and wrong during his misconduct.

Calls for compassion, not discipline

"It's not a matter, 'Oh, he knew he shouldn't drink,'" says Michael Blais, president of Canadian Veterans Advocacy, an organization that lobbies on behalf of military veterans.

"What is required is compassion ... not discipline," Blais says.

"I think that the military often looks for an excuse to release men and women who have sustained mental wounds," says Blais. "This is a common situation for many veterans."

Blais points to a 2014 survey by Statistics Canada that found one in six full-time members of the Canadian Armed Forces had recently experienced mental health or alcohol-related disorders.

Mental health issues prevalent in military

The survey of about 6,700 regular force members and 1,500 reservists suggested that depression was the most common mental health issue experienced.

It also found that one-third of Canada's soldiers worried that seeking help for mental health issues would harm their career.

1 in 6 soldiers affected by alcohol-related or mental health issues

Soldiers at higher risk of suicide after serving in Afghan war zone

Blais says that stigma is slowly fading, but the military needs to do more to support soldiers with mental illness.

"Because we broke 'em. They didn't break, we broke them. We put them into an environment where it was traumatic for them, they sustained a mental wound, and as a consequence, we are responsible," he says.

Liberals have promised more support

In the federal government's recent budget, the Liberals promised increased compensation for Canada's most injured veterans — $5.6 billion over six years to cover costs for veterans currently in the system.

The move was seen as an attempt to improve relations with Canada's military members, who had a strained relationship with the previous Conservative government.

The new money, though, will be allocated to veterans with severe physical disabilities, not for soldiers with mental illness like Evans.

No longer an active member of the military, Evans has returned his uniform and other military belongings, and will soon move from Edmonton back to Saskatoon.

"I gave a lot to this country," says Evans. "And I didn't ask for very much in return."

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/soldier-with-mental-illness-wants-medical-release-1.3527286

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Re: Long-time soldier says military pushed him out due to his mental illness

Post by Dannypaj on Mon 11 Apr 2016, 06:59

Welcome aboard SiR! No Rank here, just Veterans who have been victimized by the system, which is supposedly in place to take of their injured.
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Re: Long-time soldier says military pushed him out due to his mental illness

Post by RobbieRoyal on Mon 11 Apr 2016, 07:50

I hope and pray that this post (that I will comment on) is taken at face value and in no way is it meant to be deferential to the above statement but in fact is an enlightened point of reality period. Simply put “if you do the crime you do the time”, that simple. As any commissioned member and all other ranks know, when you become an administrative burden and obviously given chances to take the professional road and you opt out and continue the said course then you get the horns. Saddened yes as his story sounds so familiar and so military, but, as I stated we live in a new era of “Zero Tolerance”. Many of my buddies (including I) could have taken the road of self-destruction and then turned, cried and pointed the proverbial finger at bad choices as our ruin. Choices troops, we are given choices and being professional, setting the standard, being the model is what most are or have done. That being said those that elected this path (being professional, setting the standard, being the model) are allowed be angry because they have done all they can and own their choices. If you have additions and you state you’ve done all you can, I think you need to re-evaluate that statement and point the finger at your own choices. The military is a heartless employer but if you follow the standard in 99/100 cases you will not be allowed to cry foul, you won’t like the choices given or even the solutions but in the end you and you alone control your own path through being the soldier.
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Re: Long-time soldier says military pushed him out due to his mental illness

Post by bigrex on Mon 11 Apr 2016, 09:04

I'm wondering if the military had provided him with any addictions counseling after so many incidents. I know the CF used to have the mandatory ARC program for those with alcohol related issues, but I believe they cancelled that program. So if his bosses merely recorded these incidents, without providing treatment beyond merely disciplining him, then they are culpable in the situation, and therefor he should get his medical release.

But you can never underestimate the cruelty in the CF for those they deem damaged. I was on a three year medical accommodation, and within the first week back from having my second knee surgery in 4 months, I was 10 minutes late after falling down the stairs. I was told that was not an adequate excuse, and that they were looking at charging me, and changing my release note to 5F, so that I wouldn't get my pension. So after an outstanding 15 year career, I was forced to pull the plug on my accommodation two years early, which costs me almost $200/month on my pension, and spend my last 6 months on medical leave. Then just to kick me when I was down, they said that I had below average loyalty on my last PER.
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Re: Long-time soldier says military pushed him out due to his mental illness

Post by 1993firebird on Mon 11 Apr 2016, 09:16

It is not the Military , IT IS THE PEOPLE IN IT.

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Military and Liberal government fail yet again to recognize mental illness

Post by Bruce72 on Mon 11 Apr 2016, 11:46

This soldier deserves better treatment, plain and simple.

http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/edmonton/soldier-with-mental-illness-wants-medical-release-1.3527286


"I don't trust the Liberals, Conservatives, NDP or any government entity"

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Re: Long-time soldier says military pushed him out due to his mental illness

Post by Bruce72 on Mon 11 Apr 2016, 12:08

The military and government are morally bankrupt. Have been for ages. Look at how the Merchant Marine and Korea vets were treated for example.
All they do is talk and deliver half measures. All in a bid to protect their own cushy lifestyles and capitalize on their power.

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Re: Long-time soldier says military pushed him out due to his mental illness

Post by RobbieRoyal on Mon 11 Apr 2016, 17:09

Bingo, well stated firebird
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Re: Long-time soldier says military pushed him out due to his mental illness

Post by 1993firebird on Mon 11 Apr 2016, 17:20

My statement goes both ways.

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Re: Long-time soldier says military pushed him out due to his mental illness

Post by Dannypaj on Mon 11 Apr 2016, 19:20

You can take me away from the military, but you can't take the skill and knowledge I have gained and learned through the fine training I was provided.

I have a great idea 💡 Why don't we just do what we are told and shut the F up, isn't that what we are trained to do?
Is that what they want us to do?
Do what your told...blah...blah.. take it or leave it!
No, not this Cat, I was deceived and lied to and I will fix a wrong!

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Re: Long-time soldier says military pushed him out due to his mental illness

Post by Guest on Mon 11 Apr 2016, 19:52

Right on! Dannypaj!

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Re: Long-time soldier says military pushed him out due to his mental illness

Post by 1993firebird on Mon 11 Apr 2016, 20:10

That is what I mean. Military members have gone to the MIR for injuries such as a twisted ankle and the Doctor told them to suck it up , gave them some cepacol , no time off and sent them back into the field because it is exercise time and the CO wants no one on sick leave during training and did not document the injury in their file for future use after they get out of the Military. No one gives you new body parts once you leave the Military so you need proof that the Military is responsible to take care of you after they are done with you.

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