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Vet with PTSD from Afgan, kills 3 family members and himself

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Re: Vet with PTSD from Afgan, kills 3 family members and himself

Post by RCN-Retired on Thu 08 Jun 2017, 22:58

Agree Teen, this is 100% on DND and VAC, how the heck would a provincial health system know the DND were releasing ticking accidents waiting to happen fully aware that VAC are also failing veterans. This is all on our jackass minister and a retired CDS that remains failing troops.
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Re: Vet with PTSD from Afgan, kills 3 family members and himself

Post by Teentitan on Thu 08 Jun 2017, 16:56

I have to admit I do not like the fact that the Nova Scotia Health Care is taking a beating over this is so wrong.

At what point is a reporter going to make a point that VAC is the system that failed a veteran?
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N.S. medical examiner open to inquiry in soldier's death if hospital review weak

Post by Guest on Thu 08 Jun 2017, 16:39

N.S. medical examiner open to inquiry in soldier's death if hospital review weak


THE CANADIAN PRESS
Published June 8, 2017 - 2:34pm
Last Updated June 8, 2017 - 4:56pm




HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s medical examiner says he’ll consider ordering a public inquiry into the death of a former Canadian soldier who fatally shot his wife, daughter and mother if a provincial review of the man’s mental health treatment doesn’t lead to changes.

The provincial Justice Department had provided a statement last week stating Dr. Matthew Bowes had decided against ordering a judicial inquiry into the death of Lionel Desmond, a 33-year-old veteran of the war in Afghanistan who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

But Bowes clarified Thursday that if he concludes a hospital review of Desmond’s treatment was incomplete, he’d consider using his rarely exercised power to call for a judicial inquiry under the province’s Fatality Inquiries Act.

“Certainly, for me, it’s a ‘No’ right now because for me it doesn’t make sense to order a public policy renewal mechanism when there’s already one occurring,” he said in a telephone interview.

“But I’ll be watching the results of that (review) very thoroughly, and if it’s not satisfactory and it’s not comprehensive, if it’s not fulsome and it doesn’t result in recommendations and if it doesn’t result in system change I’m certainly willing to re-examine that issue.”

Desmond took his own life after shooting his 52-year-old mother, his wife Shanna, 31, and their 10-year-old daughter Aaliyah.

The Jan. 3 killings in Upper Tracadie, N.S., prompted a difficult debate over soldiers with PTSD, domestic violence and what should be done to prevent such tragedies.

http://thechronicleherald.ca/canada/1476158-update-n.s.-medical-examiner-open-to-inquiry-in-soldiers-death-if-hospital-review-wea






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Inquiry Demanded by All Canadians

Post by Dannypaj on Thu 08 Jun 2017, 04:51

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/murder-suicide-upper-big-tracadie-inquiry-military-1.4150122

Anyone injured and sent to SPHL and then medically released?
How long before VAC reached out and helped you?
For me, "it took 8 years of appeals" for any sort of help....wonder where he was in the process???
0 help from DND, nor SISIP or VAC ! (That is financial and medical and running around undiagnosed as well for years).
YES please,, WE WANT AN INQUIRY!!!
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Veterans advocate pushes for inquiry into murder-suicide involving former Canadian soldier

Post by Guest on Wed 07 Jun 2017, 05:34

Veterans advocate pushes for inquiry into murder-suicide involving former Canadian soldier


Video: http://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1140726

CTV Atlantic
Published Tuesday, June 6, 2017 7:10PM ADT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 6, 2017 7:16PM ADT


A well know veterans advocate is calling for an inquiry into the death of Lionel Desmond and his family.

The 33-year-old fatally shot his wife, daughter and mother before turning the gun on himself earlier this year

Former MP Peter Stoffer says the decision not to hold a judicial inquiry makes him suspicious.

“This is either a cost factor, there's money involved, or they don't want to know the truth, and they're protecting somebody," says Stoffer.

The decision not to open an inquiry was made by Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Matt Bowes. He says the major issue in the case was the provision of mental health services.

"It's my understanding that that review had been conducted. Actually, I've had information that the Nova Scotia Health Authority is setting up a meeting right now with the family to talk about recommendations," says Bowes.

Veterans Emergency Transition Services (VETS) is a nonprofit in Halifax that aids homeless veterans and veterans in crisis. They say peer support is crucial for those leaving the military and much more could be done.

“One of the disappointments for us was the fact that we didn't have the opportunity to assist this veteran before he got to that level of crisis,” says Debbie Lowther, VETS Canada co-founder. “We’d like to see that maybe everybody who's released is assigned a peer, you know? A buddy system or something to check to make sure the buddy's doing ok."

Peter Stoffer says a judicial inquiry would shed light on the inner workings of many organizations includingthe Department of National Defence, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Nova Scotia health system, and the mental health care system.

"Was he getting all the treatment in a timely fashion? Was his family being looked after? Were there any recorded incidences that the police might have known about? What role did the hospital in Antigonish play in all of this?" questions Stoffer.

He says the only way an inquiry can be forced now is through public pressure.

http://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/veterans-advocate-pushes-for-inquiry-into-murder-suicide-involving-former-canadian-soldier-1.3446579





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Decision not to hold inquiry into veteran’s murder-suicide sparks anger

Post by Guest on Tue 06 Jun 2017, 05:02

Decision not to hold inquiry into veteran’s murder-suicide sparks anger

MICHAEL MACDONALD
HALIFAX — The Canadian Press
Published Monday, Jun. 05, 2017 8:14PM EDT
Last updated Monday, Jun. 05, 2017 8:16PM EDT



When former Canadian soldier Lionel Desmond died by suicide after killing his wife, mother and young daughter earlier this year, Gregory Swiatkowski read about the tragedy and imagined the same thing happening to him.

“This could have been me,” the former member of the Royal Canadian Navy said. “And there’s a lot of veterans who feel the same way across the country.”

Mr. Swiatkowski served in Halifax as a sonar technician between 2002 and 2012 before he was medically discharged, having been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in 2008

On Monday, he said he felt compelled to speak out about his experience after he learned Nova Scotia’s medical examiner had ruled out conducting a fatality inquiry into the four shooting deaths.

Mr. Desmond, a 33-year-old veteran of the war in Afghanistan who suffered from PTSD, took his own life after shooting his 52-year-old mother, his wife, Shanna, 31, and their 10-year-daughter, Aaliyah.

The killings on Jan. 3 in Upper Tracadie, N.S., prompted a difficult debate over soldiers with PTSD, domestic violence and what should be done to prevent such tragedies.

Autopsy records have since been handed to the family’s nearest relatives, but medical examiner Matt Bowes has decided not to conduct an investigation under the province’s Fatality Investigations Act, spokeswoman Sarah Gillis said in an e-mailed statement. She did not offer reasons for the decision.

Mr. Swiatkowski, who uses a service dog and medical marijuana to deal with his PTSD, said the decision made him furious.

“We’ve been waiting for some answers for a long time on this,” he said in an interview from his home in Kelowna, B.C. “When I was reading this story from Nova Scotia, I was ready to snap … We deserve better than this. This can’t be just swept under the carpet.”

Catherine Hartling, Shanna Desmond’s aunt, has renewed her call for some sort of public inquiry, saying other family members want the same thing but are still too distraught to speak out.

“A lot of them are going through a lot of stress right now,” Ms. Hartling said in an interview from her home, across the street from the house where the four bodies were found. “A lot of them have … emotional problems.”

Ms. Hartling said it’s a particularly difficult time for the Desmond side of the family because they are preparing for a burial service on June 24 for Lionel Desmond and his mother, Brenda. A funeral service was held down the road at a large church in Tracadie on Jan. 11.

“We’ve been all just trying to hang in there,” she said, adding that Shanna Desmond and daughter Aaliyah are to be buried in August.

Despite her profound grief – compounded by the fact that her 47-year-old sister died in March – Ms. Hartling said she is still looking for answers to some tough questions about what happened to Lionel Desmond. She said she raised the issue with the RCMP at a meeting in March.

“I was telling them that I would like to see an inquiry take place into this,” she said. “I haven’t heard nothing.”

Mr. Desmond served in Afghanistan in 2007, and had received treatment from a joint personnel support unit in New Brunswick for a year prior to his release from the military. Such units provide support to ill and injured soldiers, including those with mental injuries.

Neither National Defence nor Veterans Affairs Canada have committed to investigating the treatment Mr. Desmond received before and after his release from the military in July, 2015.

Immediately after the killings, some of Mr. Desmond’s relatives said he was not getting the help he needed once he returned home. Questions were also raised about the care he received at the hospital in nearby Antigonish, N.S., which has its own mental-health unit.

At the time, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said an investigation would look into how the province’s health-care system dealt with Mr. Desmond.

However, a spokeswoman for the Nova Scotia Health Authority said the “quality review” would not be released to the public.

“That is a confidential process focused on learning and improving,” Kristen Lipscombe said in an e-mail.

PTSD has been the top diagnosis for the hundreds of troops released from the military for medical reasons each year since at least 2014. Some 18 military personnel took their own lives in 2015, many of whom had sought some type of mental-health treatment shortly before their deaths.

The Canadian Forces and Veterans Affairs have opened specialized clinics, hired more staff and cut red tape in recent years to provide better care and support as more military personnel have come forward seeking help for PTSD and other disorders.

But some critics wonder whether Ottawa has done enough.

On the same day relatives discovered the slain members of the Desmond family, Canada’s military watchdog urged the federal government do more for soldiers forced out of the Canadian Forces for medical reasons.

Ombudsman Gary Walbourne said he wants Ottawa to ensure injured military personnel have all the necessary benefits and supports in place before they are forced to turn in their uniforms. He also said significant barriers persist in terms of accessing services and benefits.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/decision-not-to-hold-inquiry-into-veterans-murder-suicide-sparks-anger/article35210864/


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No inquiry into former soldier's murder-suicide, N.S. medical examiner says

Post by Guest on Mon 05 Jun 2017, 15:18



No inquiry into former soldier's murder-suicide, N.S. medical examiner says


Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press
Published Monday, June 5, 2017 9:34AM ADT
Last Updated Monday, June 5, 2017 3:36PM ADT


HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia's medical examiner has ruled out conducting a fatality inquiry into a horrific murder suicide involving a former Canadian soldier who killed his wife, mother and young daughter before killing himself in the family's rural home earlier this year.

Lionel Desmond, a 33-year-old veteran of the war in Afghanistan who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, took his own life after shooting his 52-year-old mother, his wife Shanna, 31, and their 10-year-daughter Aaliyah.

The killings on Jan. 3 in Upper Tracadie, N.S., prompted a difficult debate over soldiers with PTSD, domestic violence and what should be done to prevent such tragedies.

Autopsy records have since been handed to the family's nearest relatives, but medical examiner Dr. Matt Bowes has decided not to conduct an investigation under the province's Fatality Investigations Act, spokeswoman Sarah Gillis said in an emailed statement. She did not offer reasons for the decision.

Catherine Hartling, Shanna Desmond's aunt, has renewed her call for some sort of public inquiry, saying other family members want the same thing but are still too distraught to speak out.

"A lot of them are going through a lot of stress right now," Hartling said in an interview from her home, across the street from the house where the four bodies were found. "A lot of them have ... emotional problems."

Hartling said it's a particularly difficult time for the Desmond side of the family because they are preparing for a burial service on June 24 for Lionel Desmond and his mother. A funeral service was held down the road at a large church in Tracadie on Jan. 11.

"We've been all just trying to hang in there," she said, adding that Shanna Desmond and daughter Aaliyah are to be buried in August.
Despite her profound grief -- compounded by the fact that her 47-year-old sister died in March -- Hartling said she is still looking for answers to some tough questions about what happened to Lionel Desmond. She said she raised the issue with the RCMP at a meeting in March.

"I was telling them that I would like to see an inquiry take place into this," she said. "I haven't heard nothing."

Desmond served in Afghanistan in 2007, and had received treatment from a joint personnel support unit in New Brunswick for a year prior to his release from the military. Such units provide support to ill and injured soldiers, including mental injuries.

Neither National Defence nor Veterans Affairs Canada have committed to investigating the treatment Desmond received before and after his release from the military in July 2015.

Immediately after the killings, some of Lionel Desmond's relatives said he was not getting the help he needed once he returned home. Questions were also raised about the care he received at the hospital in nearby Antigonish, N.S., which has its own mental health unit.
At the time, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said an investigation would look into how the province's health-care system dealt with Desmond.

However, a spokeswoman for the Nova Scotia Health Authority said the "quality review" would not be released to the public.
"That is a confidential process focused on learning and improving," Kristen Lipscombe said in an email.
PTSD has been the top diagnosis for the hundreds of troops released from the military for medical reasons each year since at least 2014. Some 18 military personnel took their own lives in 2015, many of whom had sought some type of mental-health treatment shortly before their deaths.

The Canadian Forces and Veterans Affairs have opened specialized clinics, hired more staff and cut red tape in recent years to provide better care and support as more military personnel have come forward seeking help for PTSD and other disorders.
But some critics wonder whether Ottawa has done enough.

On the same day relatives discovered the slain family members, Canada's military watchdog urged the federal government do more for soldiers forced out of the Canadian Forces for medical reasons.

Ombudsman Gary Walbourne said he wants Ottawa to ensure injured military personnel have all the necessary benefits and supports in place before they are forced to turn in their uniforms. He also said significant barriers persist in terms of accessing services and benefits.

http://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/no-inquiry-into-former-soldier-s-murder-suicide-n-s-medical-examiner-says-1.3443844



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Veterans ombudsman refocuses review after Nova Scotia tragedy

Post by Guest on Fri 13 Jan 2017, 06:48

Veterans ombudsman refocuses review after Nova Scotia tragedy

Triple murder-suicide raises questions about ability of local hospitals to access federal vets support

By Murray Brewster, CBC News Posted: Jan 12, 2017 5:44 PM ET Last Updated: Jan 12, 2017 5:44 PM ET


Canada's veterans ombudsman, Guy Parent, has indicated he intends to look at 'discrepancies' in care for veterans in different parts of the country, in light of a triple murder-suicide involving a former soldier.

Canada's veterans ombudsman says the gap between the federal government and the provinces when it comes to delivering services to troubled ex-soldiers in rural areas deserves more examination.

The remarks from Guy Parent come in the wake of last week's apparent triple murder and suicide in northern Nova Scotia involving a veteran of the Afghan war who was struggling with mental illness.

Veterans Affairs and the RCMP have been less than forthcoming about the circumstances that led retired corporal Lionel Desmond, 33, to kill his 31-year-old wife, Shanna, his 52-year-old mother, Brenda, and his 10-year-old daughter, Aaliyah.

'It is a tragedy that forces us to look at the overall mental health strategy.'
- Guy Parent, veterans ombudsman


His family has said he "succumbed to the tortures" of post traumatic stress disorder following his service in Afghanistan in 2007.

They have also said that Desmond was turned away when he tried to check himself into St. Martha's Regional Hospital in Antigonish, N.S., located a short drive from his home in Upper Big Tracadie.

But Dr. Minoli Amit, a senior official at the hospital, has denied the claim, saying staff routinely work through bed shortages to provide care to anyone seeking help.


Lionel Desmond's sister says he went to hospital for help the day before apparent murder-suicide

Discrepancies probed

Nonetheless, Parent said he is aware of discrepancies and uneven levels of service across the country.

Soldiers are able to access medical care within the military while still in uniform, but they are at the mercy of provincial health care systems once they are out, and service levels vary.

"It is a tragedy that forces us to look at the overall mental health strategy," Parent told CBC News. He said he intends to refocus an ongoing review of long-term care for veterans towards mental health, an assessment that could see him tap into existing relationships with provincial ombudsmen.

Parent said tough questions need to be asked about how much local and regional hospitals know about the complex federal support system that's been set up to serve both existing military members and veterans.


Shanna and Lionel Desmond hold their daughter Aaliyah in a photo from the Facebook page of Shanna Desmond.

Veterans Affairs, in co-operation with several provincial health departments, has established 11 Operational Stress Injury Clinics across the country, most of which offer outpatient services, and has poured tens of millions of dollars into treatment programs.

In 2009, the former Conservative government opened a 10-bed inpatient facility for veterans at Ste. Anne's Hospital in Montreal.

In conjunction with the veterans department, National Defence has a network of 30 mental health clinics and seven Operational Trauma and Stress Support Centres, which vary in size.

Whether the federal government should be funding more inpatient mental health centres for veterans is an issue that has been repeatedly raised before parliamentary committees.

Secret reviews

Both Veterans Affairs and the military have conducted separate reviews of how they handled Lionel Desmond's case, according to a number of federal sources.

But, citing privacy, they refuse to discuss the findings, or answer questions about what services were offered to the former soldier, who was released from the military on medical grounds 18 months before the tragedy.

Gary Walbourne, the country's military ombudsman, who deals with matters related to serving members of the military, said in the immediate aftermath of the shooting the case could represent a failure of the transition system, which is meant to guide soldiers and their families safely and securely out of uniform.


The flag-draped coffin of Lionel Desmond is carried into St. Peter's Church in Tracadie, N.S. on Wednesday. RCMP say Desmond killed his mother, wife and young daughter before taking his own life earlier in the month.

There have been a number of cases recently where ex-soldiers have waited months for benefits and services, including mental health treatment and financial support.

Parent wasn't prepared to fully endorse his colleague's statement, but said there is merit to the idea that bad transitions increase stress on soldiers.

Funerals for Desmond and his family were held this week.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/vets-ombudsman-desmond-1.3933270

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Canada needs to do more for veterans, says War Pensioner rep

Post by Guest on Fri 13 Jan 2017, 05:59

Canada needs to do more for veterans, says War Pensioner rep

By Tom Sasvari - Jan 13, 2017



MANITOULIN—The Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Canada need to do a better job of ensuring veterans receive the physical and mental health assistance they need, after risking their lives for their country, says a representative of the War Pensioners of Canada (WPC). This comes after the recent murder-suicide of a Canadian Afghanistan veteran (who was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder) and three members of his family.

“For the authorities to say there were no beds for him, I don’t know, there must have been other resources available or intervention. Someone missed something,” stated Colin Pick, president of the Espanola-Manitoulin-North Shore branch of the WPC in response to the apparent murder-suicide of a military veteran, Lionel Desmond, his newly-graduated nurse wife, their 10-year-old daughter and her grandmother in Nova Scotia earlier this month.

Nova Scotia RCMP said Mr. Desmond appeared to have shot himself and the three other victims died of apparent gunshot wounds. He served with the Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan and suffered from PTSD. He retired as a corporal. He had been posted at CFB Gagetown in New Brunswick and was seeking help and treatment for his condition since he left the military.

A Department of National Defense spokesperson told CBC News in a statement that Mr. Desmond was an infantryman with 2nd Battalion, the Royal Canadian Regiment. He enrolled in 2004 and deployed to Afghanistan from January to August of 2007.

Rev. Elaine Walcott, who lives just outside of Halifax and is related to the victims, told CBC News that Lionel Desmond had recently spent time in a Montreal clinic for post-traumatic stress disorder. She said that he had been crying out for help from the mental health system and had tried to get treatment very recently, but was told there were no beds available.

“All he was asking for was help,” said Mr. Pick. He pointed out, “this month is national Bell Let’s Talk about Mental Illness month and there are all kinds of stuff, on the radio, TV and in newspapers, to educate people on mental illness and the need for people to be able to talk about their issues.”

“It’s the ones that fall through the cracks that we hear about,” said Mr. Pick. “It’s sad, people can be showing signs and symptoms, but in a lot of cases others don’t read them right.”

“More needs to be done for our veterans,” said Mr. Pick. “When a person calls out for help, that help has to be there. To not have support available to (Mr. Desmond) is not right. Someone should have made sure he had the help and support he needed. Counselling and support services are needed even when they are making progress.”

http://www.manitoulin.ca/2017/01/13/canada-needs-veterans-says-war-pensioner-rep/

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Ottawa ignored calls to probe veteran suicides despite troubling 2014 audit

Post by Guest on Thu 12 Jan 2017, 06:19



Ottawa ignored calls to probe veteran suicides despite troubling 2014 audit

RENATA D’ALIESIO
The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017 5:00AM EST
Last updated Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017 5:00AM EST

Veterans Affairs is not yet routinely reviewing suicides of former soldiers to identify lessons that might protect other vulnerable vets, despite an internal audit of cases that found troubling gaps at the department responsible for Canada’s most chronically ill and injured veterans.

Government documents obtained by The Globe and Mail through access-to-information legislation show that a 2014 probe of 49 suicidal vets and 31 suicides uncovered instances where Veterans Affairs was not properly monitoring the distraught vets. Some weren’t even screened for suicide risk in the first place.

Despite these findings – and internal calls for case-by-case reviews stretching back to at least 2010 – the federal department hasn’t analyzed a single vet suicide since the 2014 audit, revealed Michel Doiron, assistant deputy minister of service delivery at Veterans Affairs. He pledged on Wednesday that a process for regularly scrutinizing suicides and attempted suicides will be introduced this year.

“We’ve been looking into it since the fall,” Mr. Doiron said in an interview. “We want to make sure that if there is something for us to learn from a [suicide] event, that we do learn it and we rectify accordingly.”

Part of the problem, the 2014 probe found, was Veterans Affairs’ own administrative database, which was primarily designed for processing disability and benefit claims and not for tracking health changes and suicide risk among former military members, states an internal Veterans Affairs’ report that summarized findings from 10 medical and veterans experts involved in the audit.

“One barrier to care noted by several reviewers was missed opportunities to recognize prior suicidality in clients and arrange follow-up monitoring,” the report notes. “This barrier was thought in part to be due to the business rather than clinical focus” of Veterans Affairs’ database.

While the Canadian Forces are responsible for delivering health services to their military members, veterans fall under provincial medicare. Of the country’s nearly 700,000 vets, about 120,000 receive services or payments from Veterans Affairs, often for serious physical injuries or mental illnesses, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

One of those ill vets was Lionel Desmond, who deployed to Afghanistan in 2007. Mr. Desmond’s family said he was struggling with PTSD when he was released from the Forces in July, 2015. Last week, in a rural Nova Scotia home, police believe he gunned down his wife, Shanna Desmond, their 10-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, and his mother, Brenda Desmond, before killing himself.

The Nova Scotia government has launched an investigation of how the health system dealt with Mr. Desmond, a former infantryman with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment, based in Gagetown, N.B. Just two days before the shootings, the veteran sought help at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in the nearby town of Antigonish, family members said. They believe he didn’t get adequate help at the hospital.

Rev. Elaine Walcott, a relative of the Desmond family, is calling on the military and Veterans Affairs to also investigate how they handled the chronically ill soldier. Neither Veterans Affairs nor the Forces has publicly committed to probing the Desmond case.

“There is a responsibility, systemically, for this to be examined,” she said Tuesday, on the eve of funerals for the Desmond family. “This is an opportunity to put a lens on” mental-health care.

Mr. Desmond, 33, is among at least 72 soldiers and veterans who have killed themselves after serving on the Afghanistan mission, an ongoing Globe and Mail investigation has found. Most have only taken their own lives, but just before Christmas in 2015, Robert Giblin, a veteran of two Afghanistan tours, stabbed his wife, Precious Charbonneau, before they fell from a high-rise apartment in Toronto. Mr. Giblin’s family said he suffered with PTSD.

Former veterans watchdog Pat Stogran, a retired army colonel, said it is “reprehensible” that formal suicide reviews are not yet commonplace at Veterans Affairs. He noted that he raised the issue during his ombudsman tenure, from 2007 to 2010.

“There has to be a feedback loop to say where we are going wrong,” Mr. Stogran said. “They should be taking substantial and very visible steps to fight this problem. It’s life and death.”

An expert group that reviewed, in 2010, a dozen vet suicides had also urged the department to routinely examine such deaths to better understand how to prevent other suicides. Yet no further investigation was done until 2014.

According to the access-to-information documents obtained by The Globe, the 2014 audit was conducted to identify suicide triggers, determine whether interventions were tried and to pinpoint measures to improve suicide prevention at Veterans Affairs.

The study’s experts noted that valuable information was gained by examining the 80 cases of vets who had either died by suicide, attempted to, or thought about ending their life.

Most of the veterans had a chronic physical-health problem coupled with a mental-health illness. Many were also coping with other stress, such as difficulty finding a job or financial, relationship and legal troubles.

Seventy-nine per cent were males and most had been released from the military in recent decades. A dozen, though, had served in the Second World War or Korea.

Of the 31 vets lost to suicide, the majority ended their lives at home, the probe showed. Their deaths occurred from 1961 to 2013.

Some “best practice” examples were found where front-line Veterans Affairs staff prevented suicides. Improvements in documenting suicide risk, compared with the 2010 review, were also noted.

The audit showed that the suicide profile of elderly vets differed from younger ones. These older former soldiers were less likely to have documented mental-health problems, but suffered with multiple chronic physical-health issues and social isolation.

Despite the audit’s numerous insights, a presentation included in the documents indicates staff with the Veterans Affairs’ service-delivery branch recommended against formal reviews of individual suicide cases. The presentation, prepared in June, 2015, acknowledges that data from the 2010 and 2014 studies have provided “significant information,” but cautions that there are “professional, ethical and legal considerations for employees whose actions will be reviewed.”

The recommendation then was for Veterans Affairs to periodically perform general examinations of suicide cases. That position has since changed.

Mr. Doiron said Veterans Affairs’ newly hired chief psychiatrist, Alexandra Heber, was asked to look into the issue in September. He said he hopes that an official suicide-review process will be in place by the end of March. Currently, only administrative reviews are done to determine whether benefits are owed to families. Any lessons identified are shared within the department, Mr. Doiron said.

Veterans Affairs and the Canadian Forces are working on a suicide-prevention strategy, which is expected later this year. Veterans Affairs recently added a tool to electronically record and track suicides and, in November, updated guidelines for dealing with suicidal veterans.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/ottawa-ignored-calls-to-probe-veteran-suicides/article33593650/




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Canadian Afghan war veteran commits suicide after killing family

Post by Guest on Wed 11 Jan 2017, 06:08




Canadian Afghan war veteran commits suicide after killing family

By Laurent Lafrance
11 January 2017

A tragedy that took place at the beginning of January in Upper Big Tracadie, a small and isolated town in northeastern Nova Scotia, has shed light on the consequences of the increasingly aggressive domestic and foreign policies of the Canadian ruling elite.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) confirmed last Friday that 33-year-old Afghan war veteran Lionel Desmond shot himself after killing his mother, Brenda, 52; his wife, Shanna Desmond, 31; and their 10-year-old daughter, Aliyah. The murder-suicide has left the community, located some 200 miles from Halifax, in shock.
Relatives confirmed that Desmond suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after he came back from Afghanistan, where he was deployed from January to August of 2007 as an infantry soldier in the Royal Canadian Regiment. He joined the armed forces in 2004 and was released 18 months ago.

This latest tragedy is an indictment of the entire ruling class and military apparatus that have used young men as cannon fodder to advance Canada’s imperialist interests around the globe. When these men come back home, usually traumatized by the cruelty of war and the atrocities inflicted on the civilian population—often with their own participation—they are left with inadequate health care and other vital services due to decades of budget cutting by all of the establishment political parties.

Desmond wrote on his Facebook page last month that he had hit his head on a light armoured vehicle and suffered back spasms after falling off a wall while in the military. He said he had been told he had post-concussion disorder as well as PTSD. Desmond’s sister-in-law explained that he recently decided to stay at his grandparents’ house because he was “getting so out of control,” and that he was verbally aggressive with his wife.

Rev. Elaine Walcott, another relative, said, “Lionel loved his mother, his family, and he was a victim of post-traumatic stress disorder and the memories he didn’t want to have.” Lionel’s sister, Cassandra Desmond, told CBC News: “My brother suffered in silence for 10 years fighting demons that we don’t even know, seeing things, replaying events in his head...”

According to Shanna Desmond’s aunt, Catherine Hartline, when Lionel Desmond returned from Afghanistan he sought treatment in Montreal but did not get the adequate assistance. “The poor guy needed help and they sent him up to Montreal and put a little Band-Aid on him and sent him back.”

It was also revealed that Desmond tried to check himself into a mental health facility at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish the day before the tragedy, but he was apparently told there were no beds and that the hospital did not have his files.

This revelation prompted Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil to claim that his government, in conjunction with health authorities, would find out “what may or may not have happened” at St. Martha’s. In another token gesture, the Canadian government announced that it would pay the costs of the funeral of Desmond and his family members.

The government is clearly seeking to wash its hands of the situation and cover up the fact that the lack of services at St. Martha is the result of years of austerity measures imposed on public services by successive Liberal, Conservative and NDP provincial governments.

An emergency room doctor who works at the hospital, Dr. Maureen Allen, told CBC how budget cuts had impacted the services provided. Allen said emergency rooms “are inundated” with people struggling with mental health and addiction issues, and that the facility no longer has a dedicated budget for mental health services.

Under both the previous Harper Conservative government and the current Liberal Trudeau government, Veteran Affairs Canada has slashed millions of dollars, translating into hundreds of job cuts, closed offices that previously provided assistance to veterans and cut back on medical marijuana. In power, the Conservatives eliminated lifetime pensions for Afghanistan veterans and clawed back benefits. The number of VA employees shrank 21 percent between 2008 and 2014, resulting in the department’s smallest workforce since 1998.

Many ill and injured ex-soldiers must wait for months to find out if they qualify for benefits. Documents obtained by The Canadian Press show that just over half of the 6,000 veterans who applied for disability benefits between April and July last year received a decision within 16 weeks.

Veteran services have also been targeted for privatization. The most recent job cuts imposed by the Liberals will now force veterans to deal with Medavie Blue Cross, a for-profit private insurance company, for their benefit claims.

According to reports, Desmond received treatment from a joint personnel support unit for a year prior to his release from the military in July 2015. The JPSU, which is meant to provide support to physically and mentally ill soldiers, is severely under-funded.

The horrific event in Upper Big Tracadie is the latest in a string of similar tragedies involving war veterans. According to a Globe and Mail investigation, at least 72 soldiers and veterans have killed themselves after serving on the dangerous Afghanistan mission. The most recent reported case took place in 2015, when Robert Giblin, a veteran of two Afghanistan tours, repeatedly stabbed his wife before they fell from a high-rise apartment in Toronto.

Nearly one in 10 Canadian military personnel who took part in the mission in Afghanistan (about 3,600 out of 39,000) are now collecting disability benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder. However, experts say the prevalence of the illness is likely much higher among Canada’s combat troops. There are probably many ex-soldiers who have not reached out for benefits, and others who have never been diagnosed.

Calls by the media and politicians for better help for veterans are highly hypocritical. Above all, they seek to obscure the real cause of the Upper Big Tracadie tragedy: Canada’s participation in imperialist carnage in Central Asia and around the globe. In fact, after wiping their crocodile tears, the Canadian ruling class and the media will continue to push for a more aggressive foreign policy.

The Afghan war played a critical role in the reassertion of aggressive Canadian militarism. It marked the definitive end of a period in which, for their own geopolitical interests, the Canadian ruling class presented itself on the global stage as a “peacekeeping” nation.

Military strategists and government advisers celebrated the Afghan intervention, which saw the Canadian Armed Forces assume the leadership role in counter-insurgency operations in Kandahar. In the words of one official, this was a “revolution” in Canadian foreign policy. The ruling class is not about to allow what it views as collateral damage to the lives of veterans and their families to get in the way of the ruthless assertion of its interests.

Desmond’s fate—and the high number of soldiers suffering from PTSD—points to the real character of the Afghan war. Launched in 2001 shortly after September 11 as part of the US-led so-called “war on terror”, the Afghan war has revealed itself as a neocolonial war in which the major powers sought to destabilize and dominate the entire energy resource-rich region.

The Conservatives and the liberals both supported Canada’s participation in the war. For its part, the union-backed New Democratic Party, which made the withdrawal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan one of its main “progressive” policy planks, made an about-face in the 2008 election campaign when it sought a coalition with the Liberals and pledged to back Canada playing a leading role in the conflict through 2011.

Since then, the Canadian government has joined every military adventure led by the United States. Far from backing down from this war drive, the Trudeau government will soon announce a new deployment of Canadian troops in Africa to join US and French-led counter-insurgency missions and has already sent Canadian forces to Eastern Europe to menace Russia.

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/01/11/cana-j11.html



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P.E.I. veteran says he’s not receiving adequate mental health care in province

Post by Guest on Mon 09 Jan 2017, 06:08



P.E.I. veteran says he’s not receiving adequate mental health care in province
Mitch MacDonald
Published on January 8, 2017

P.E.I. veteran Tim Lockert plays with his dog Shadow at his home near Pleasant Grove. Lockert, who struggles with severe depression and a number of physical ailments, said he was on the brink of committing suicide when he visited the QEH Emergency Room in December. Lockert said he’s not receiving the psychological treatment he needs.

P.E.I. veteran Tim Lockert says he was proud to serve his country as a member of the Canadian Forces for about 15 years.

However, a lack of psychological care provided since has left him feeling embarrassed and brushed aside.

Lockert, 50, says he felt he was turned away from the QEH when he went to the Emergency Room about a month ago for physical pain and severe depression.

Following the death of his mother in October, Lockert said he was on the brink of suicide when he visited the ER in December.

Although he received treatment for his back pain, an ailment that’s become gradually worse over the past 25 years, Lockert said he felt he was basically told to “go home” for his depression.

“I was telling them ‘I’m suicidal, I’m not well in the brain,’ and basically the nurse that was in charge said ‘shh, don’t say that or they’ll lock you up,” said Lockert. “I said ‘no, I need help or I’m going to be dead.”

Having previously been in acute psychiatric care (Unit 9), Lockert said the ER doctor had relayed a similar message.

“He said ‘there’s not much we can do for you. You don’t think Unit 9 is good for you and you’re waiting for counselling’,” said Lockert. “I was in a deep, dark place the initial night when I was turned down and sent home. When you live on your own, there’s not much support.”

Prior to the ER visit, Lockert said he had been in Unit 9 for about a week and was released.

He said the unit provided him a safe space but no counselling.

“I basically said ‘no this isn’t the place for me,” said Lockert, who has attempted suicide in the past. “I need counselling, I need to see a psychiatrist and psychologist. It’s great being safe but I should be counselled while I’m here. It seemed more like a babysitting area.”

Lockert returned to the ER with suicidal thoughts again less than a week after the initial incident.

He said he was kept overnight and treated with medication, although he hasn’t spoken with anyone from the QEH or Health P.E.I. since the event.

“It was the initial night when I said I needed help and I wanted to die. I was unsafe, I really was,” said Lockert, who noted he’s a frequent ER patient due to his back. “I’m not happy with them.”

A spokesperson for Health P.E.I. said it would be early this week before they would be able to respond to a request for more information regarding the event.

The issue of access to mental health services made national headlines last week when Nova Scotia veteran Lionel Desmond shot his wife, daughter and mother before killing himself. Desmond had reportedly sought mental health treatment in Antigonish’s St. Martha’s Regional Hospital a day before the triple-murder suicide and was turned away.

Lockert was in the Canadian Forces from 1985 to 2000, of which the majority was spent as a Class B reservist working at CFB Gagetown.

He was medically released from the army once he became an insulin dependent diabetic. Following his time with the Canadian Forces, he worked in the health care system as a pharmacy technician and Licensed Practical Nurse.

He said he stopped working about three years ago once his back pain became too excruciating.

He said that injury was originally caused by a workplace incident about 25 years ago while in the Canadian Forces. However, his claim has been rejected by Veterans Affairs Canada and is currently up for appeal.

Along with his back pain and depression, Lockert suffers from a number of other physical ailments.

He said he’s also being assessed for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“I’ve got problems thinking, my mental capacity has gone downhill just in the past six months,” he said.

He said the level of support provided to veterans has made him feel embarrassed.

“I served my country. I may not have been the best soldier but I was the first to volunteer and the last to leave,” said Lockert. “I was never embarrassed to serve my country until I had to deal with DVA (Veterans Affairs Canada) then I was embarrassed to be a veteran.”

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/news/local/2017/1/8/p-e-i--veteran-says-hes-not-receiving-adequate-mental-health-car.html

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Not helping veterans could turn into national security problem: Military Ombudsman

Post by Guest on Sun 08 Jan 2017, 16:12



CANADA January 8, 2017 12:20 pm                         Updated: January 8, 2017 1:27 pm

By Rebecca Joseph and Amy Minsky Global News


WATCH: Military Ombudsman Gary Walbourne tells Vassy Kapelos the government does not need to wait for its defence policy review to take action for military members and veterans who are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

Canada’s approach to transitioning Canadian Forces members out of service is fundamentally flawed — and, if it’s not addressed, could lead to national security problems, said Canadian Armed Forces ombudsman Gary Walbourne.

The root of the problem is the fact many Forces members are released before adequate support is set up, he said in an interview on The West Block.

“I think … the service delivery model we’re using for the transitioning member, I think it’s fundamentally flawed,” Walbourne said. “And I think the major flaw is that we release people before they’re ready or before the systems are in place to help them.”

He says he’s already recommended that no member of the armed forces be released until all benefits, including pension and their contact with Veteran’s Affairs, are put in place.

“If we don’t change the position and the approach we have, I think the conversation is going to change away from transitioning members to national security,” he said.

“I do believe that if we could get back to that one recommendation of holding the member until everything was in place, I think we could have a different conversation next year.”

The apparent murder-suicide of a Nova Scotia veteran and his family last week left the country reeling.

Lionel Desmond shot and killed his wife Shanna, 10-year-old daughter Aaliyah and mother Brenda, before turning the gun on himself, RCMP say.



His family said he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and sought help.

Asked why the recommendation hasn’t yet been considered, Walbourne said it’s up to the Forces to step up.

“I’m as beguiled and bewildered as you,” he said. “Why is that there’s a tragedy before we start having the conversation? Why aren’t we doing something different?”

He also said these changes could be implemented before the Defence Policy Review, which is expected to come out in the spring.

He says the changes he wants are “well within the purview of the authority of the Minister of the National Defence and the Chief of Defence Staff.

“So I don’t know why we need to wait for an overarching strategic document or I think we know what needs to be done. I’d just like to see some action.”

Recent reports say that at least 54 Canadian military members have committed suicide in the past three years.

Catherine Hartline, Desmond’s wife’s aunt told Global News Desmond had asked for help for his PTSD.

“He didn’t get the help. He should have had the professional help he needed and it was not done right away. When the man showed the signs he should have been put somewhere to have a full recovery,” Hartline said.

http://globalnews.ca/news/3167592/not-helping-veterans-could-turn-into-national-security-problem-military-ombudsman/

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The war doesn’t end when soldiers return home

Post by Guest on Sun 08 Jan 2017, 16:00



The war doesn’t end when soldiers return home

ROMÉO DALLAIRE
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Sunday, Jan. 08, 2017 8:00AM EST
Last updated Sunday, Jan. 08, 2017 3:21PM EST

When I learned the news last week about the Canadian veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder who unsuccessfully sought help and then, overcome by his operational injury, apparently killed his family and himself – I was beyond distraught. The catastrophic case of Lionel Desmond could not serve as a more powerful warning to the senior policy-makers in our country. But will it be enough?

I have spent decades fighting for injured veterans, including myself, as we continue to destroy ourselves and too many others in our wake. The wars that soldiers fight do not end when we return home; they stay alive within us, and without urgent treatment our injury – PTSD – will destroy us. Just like an injury to the body will become gangrenous, fester, and infect, so too does this injury to our brains and moral centre. But unlike most other injuries, PTSD deeply affects the entire family as well; in this case, fatally.

The scale of the damage and the depth of the destruction that deployment in today’s complex conflicts can wreak is almost incomprehensible. Lionel Desmond’s actions were reprehensible; but, so too was the lack of care he and his family received when he returned from his mission. This was a soldier lost in a system that is grievously inadequate to handle the load and complexity of these injuries or to provide the urgent support required for vets and their families. With a chain of command out of the picture, and an underfunded veterans department strangled by regulations, our system is wholly unprepared for this postwar demand. As a result, injured vets, both in and out of service, continue to be shunted aside, falling into the support cracks, flailing for help.


This is an urgent message that must be heeded: The casualties of past wars continue to mount even as we are preparing for the next conflict. Military-weapons upgrades, the introduction of new tactics, and preparations of troops to face the next threat are all getting a heavy dose of essential funding and priority. However, penny-pinching resource allocations and prohibitive restrictions around support to casualties of the last fight clearly have devastating effects. Care for our current injured members sets the start line for the total commitment of our soldiers and their families for the next round in the defence of peace and human rights.

Nova Scotia – where Lionel Desmond lived and where I am now based with the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative – is home to a disproportionate number of veterans. To utilize the strengths and skills of injured vets, while giving them a second chance to serve, the Dallaire Initiative has instituted a training program – through which Canadian military veterans assist in the dissemination of a new doctrine to reduce battle casualties and help eradicate the use of child soldiers globally.

The Canadian government would do well to follow suit: to seek out injured veterans and provide them whatever tools they require to rejoin society after their missions, for all our sakes.

As I wrote in my last book, "I find myself empty now, at a loss for words. Over the past two years, I mustered what I had left to share the details of my own struggles with PTSD. I turn to those pages now."

"It was not easy for me to share my vulnerabilities so candidly, but the dark side of living with PTSD has to come out. If it does not, the world will continue to hear of us only when we commit suicide."

Courageous soldiers serving in today’s difficult and ethically ambiguous missions can and should be treated for PTSD at its first signs; the Forces should anticipate the need for treatment in order to head the damage off, not just wait until a soldier is desperate enough to seek help. And we – meaning all of us – need to shoulder our share of the burden and recognize the contribution made by our soldiers when they undertake such missions on behalf of humanity. We need to insist that they are supported when they come home.

The brain is as vital to life as any organ in the human body. To treat an injury to the brain as less urgent, less in need of care and compassion than other, more obvious types of injury is misguided and ignorant. Our efforts to treat our veterans with PTSD must be comparable to our efforts to repair damaged hearts, provide timely kidney transplants, avoid amputations or restore eyesight.

Only when we truly understand the injury and take action to mitigate its impact will we be able to say that we recognize the real costs of peacekeeping, peacemaking and war.

Lieutenant-General (ret) Roméo Dallaire is the founder of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative at Dalhousie University, and author of Waiting for First Light: My Ongoing Battle with PTSD.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/the-war-doesnt-end-when-soldiers-return-home/article33533540/

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Veterans Affairs to cover funeral costs of murder-suicide victims

Post by Guest on Sat 07 Jan 2017, 18:42

Veterans Affairs to cover funeral costs of murder-suicide victims

Jan 07, 2017

Click on the link below to view video:

http://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1030627&binId=1.1145463&playlistPageNum=1

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Re: Vet with PTSD from Afgan, kills 3 family members and himself

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