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

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Nova Scotia shootings underscore need for better veterans' services: ombudsman

Post by Guest on Wed 04 Jan 2017, 18:15



Nova Scotia shootings underscore need for better veterans' services: ombudsman

The Canadian Press
Published on January 4, 2017

OTTAWA — Canada's military watchdog urged the federal government Wednesday to do more for soldiers forced out of the Canadian Forces for medical reasons after an Afghan war veteran and three family members were found shot dead in Nova Scotia.

Ombudsman Gary Walbourne 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 — recommendations he made back in the fall.

"There should be no member of the Canadian Armed Forces released until all benefits and services are in place," Walbourne said in an interview.

"That means pension, back benefits, health care. If we had had that type of a stance, I wonder what the outcome would have been.

"Would it have been different? We're speculating; we don't know. But there is opportunity in the system. Somebody's got to make some decisions."

Retired corporal Lionel Desmond, 33, was found dead Tuesday in a home in Upper Big Tracadie, N.S., from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound, RCMP say. His wife Shanna Desmond, 31, their 10-year-old daughter Aaliyah and his mother Brenda Desmond, 52, also died of apparent gunshot wounds.

RCMP would not confirm outright that the deaths were a murder-suicide, saying the investigation is ongoing.

Desmond served in Afghanistan in 2007, and had received treatment from a joint personnel support unit for a year prior to his release from the military in July 2015. Such units provide support to ill and injured soldiers, including mental injuries.

A family member said Desmond was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after returning from Afghanistan, and had been seeking treatment without success after his release from the military. Veterans Affairs refused to comment on the case, citing privacy laws.

The tragedy has thrust the treatment of current and former soldiers suffering from mental injuries back into the spotlight, highlighting the ongoing challenges in helping the thousands suffering from hidden wounds.

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 and more military personnel have come forward seeking help for PTSD and other disorders.

A spokeswoman for Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said the minister's thoughts and prayers were with the Desmond family, and that he agreed more needs to be done to help ill and injured military personnel transition to civilian life.

But Jordan Owens said the government would guard against knee-jerk reactions or piecemeal decisions, referring instead to a forthcoming new Liberal defence policy that's due in the spring.

"There is work ongoing between the Department of National Defence and Veterans Affairs to ensure soldiers and veterans receive the care and support they need," Owens said.

"This was a major focus of our consultations during the defence policy review."

Veterans Affairs Canada released a statement on Wednesday highlighting the services available to veterans struggling with mental-health injuries and encouraging them to come forward for help.

"We are committed to getting this right for the men and women who have served this country," the statement read. "We encourage anyone struggling to reach out to Veterans Affairs and get the support they need."

But Walbourne said significant barriers and problems persist in terms of accessing services and benefits. It's unfair to serving members, veterans and their families to make them wait for the system to be fixed when there are clear measures that could be implemented now, he added.

"We've made recommendations that are easy to implement and will make a major impact on the lives of these transitioning members," he said.

"But to do nothing, well, we see the consequences of doing nothing."

Approximately 1,800 service members are released each year from the Canadian Armed Forces for medical reasons. Walbourne said 60 per cent of the complaints his office receives from current and retired military personnel each year relate to the process for leaving the Forces.

http://www.thetelegram.com/news/2017/1/4/nova-scotia-shootings-underscore-need-for-better-veterans-services-ombudsman.html

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Ottawa not moving fast enough to prevent suicides among Canada’s soldiers, veterans

Post by Guest on Wed 04 Jan 2017, 18:09



CANADA January 4, 2017 5:08 pm

Ottawa not moving fast enough to prevent suicides among Canada’s soldiers, veterans: advocates

By Andrew Russell and Amy Minsky Global News



Veterans advocates say the federal government isn’t moving quickly enough to keep current and former soldiers from taking their own lives, just as a former Canadian Forces member was identified as one of four people found dead in an apparent murder-suicide in a rural Nova Scotia home.

On Tuesday, four people were found dead in the home; the victims were identified as 33-year-old military veteran Lionel Desmond, his wife Shanna Desmond, 31, their 10-year-old daughter, Aliyah, and his mother, Brenda, 52.

A family member told Global News that Lionel Desmond was a veteran who had recently served in Afghanistan and had been seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

At least 54 Canadian military members have taken their own lives since 2014, including 15 members last year, according to one estimate, and advocates say Ottawa isn’t doing enough to address a life-or-death situation.

“Suicide has been an issue that has not been a priority [for the federal government],” said Michael Blais, president and founder of the Canadian Veterans Advocacy. “We have veterans coming forward and they are being put into a system where it takes months if not years to get the effective treatment that they need.”


Lionel Desmond (far right corner) was part of the 2nd battalion, of the Royal Canadian Regiment, based at CFB Gagetown.

The NDP’s former long-time Veterans Affairs critic, Peter Stoffer, called progress on addressing suicides in the military “excruciatingly slow.”

“There is absolutely no reason at all why the government can’t be moving much, much quicker,” Stoffer said. “We still aren’t there yet. We simply do not have enough human or financial resources in place, in order to assist our men and woman who suffer from (PTSD).”

Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr was tasked in his mandate letter from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with developing a suicide-prevention strategy, in conjunction with the Defence Department, for veterans and current CF members that is “current, efficient and implements best practices.”

Veterans Affairs said it is working closely with Defence to update the suicide-prevention policy and to ensure all eligible veterans and their families “have the mental health support they need, when they need it.”

“This is a terrible tragedy and our thoughts are with the family and friends of the deceased,” a spokesperson for Veterans Affairs said in a statement Wednesday. “We are committed to getting this right for the men and women who have served this country. I encourage anyone struggling to reach out to Veterans Affairs and get the support they need.”

Veterans Affairs said a draft of the “Departmental Suicide Strategy will be ready by the Fall of 2017.”

In federal accounting books, three programs are listed under the heading, “financial, physical and mental well-being of eligible veterans.”

Actual spending on those programs at Veterans Affairs increased only two per cent to $3.54 billion in 2015-16 from $3.45 billion in 2014-15, according to the Public Accounts of Canada. Planned spending for this year is pegged lower than last year, at $3.51 billion, according to estimates published at the beginning of the fiscal year.

Richard Wright, vice-president of Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping, says the government has taken steps to increase access to mental health for veterans, but “it’s still nowhere near enough.”

“A lot of them are very proud veterans and they figure they can work through this from themselves,” Wright said. “We know that is not the case, they cannot work through it by themselves and they have to get professional help.”

The Canadian military has struggled in the past to recruit new psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers to deal with the suicide crisis in the military. A report in 2015 found government salaries weren’t high enough in some parts of the country to attract the necessary mental health professionals.

“Do I think it’s the best [Veterans Affairs] can do? Certainly not. But I think they are going in the right direction, which is not going in any direction at all,” Wright said.

Glynne Hines, head of the Royal Canadian Legion’s Operational Stress Injury Special Section, said whenever there are suicides amongst veterans and CF members, it means Canada isn’t moving fast enough.

“We’ll never get the number down to zero, but we will have to do better,” said Hines. “The way we are going to do better is by having an effective suicide prevention framework that can be implemented for Canadian forces members and veterans and the fact that we don’t have one contributes to the suicides that we are seeing.”

The Liberals have already re-opened several of the nine veterans offices closed under the previous government. Those that haven’t will be within the year, Hehr recently said.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911. 911 can send immediate help. The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts and Kids Help Phone all offer ways for getting help if you, or someone you know, is suffering from mental health issues.

http://globalnews.ca/news/3160539/ottawa-not-moving-fast-enough-to-prevent-suicides-among-canadas-soldiers-veterans-advocates/

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

Post by Vet1234 on Wed 04 Jan 2017, 15:20

Tragic. I saw him around, never talked though.
Prayers to all those touched by this loss.
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Re: Vet with PTSD from Afgan, kills 3 family members and himself

Post by Newf on Wed 04 Jan 2017, 15:01

Rest in peace. My thoughts are for the families, friends and first responders who know have to live with this tragedy. As others have stated please talk to someone if you are in need of support.
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Re: Vet with PTSD from Afgan, kills 3 family members and himself

Post by pinger on Wed 04 Jan 2017, 13:16

Beyond words.
Best support to those who knew and served with him...

Well said Slaket . . . " please ask for help if you require it.
It is not shameful or weak. "
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Re: Vet with PTSD from Afgan, kills 3 family members and himself

Post by czerv on Wed 04 Jan 2017, 12:26

So sorry to hear that. RIP
Another axample of 'support' that is 'available' to those who ask, both while in military and in dealing with VAC.
So sad.
No word from Sanji nor Herr?

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

Post by Slaket on Wed 04 Jan 2017, 10:57

And this scares me. As one who sat in his basement self medicating for almost 3 years...finally with the help of medical professionals and MM kicked almost all my other prescriptions...
moved up out of the ground and back into the real world .. And now the Minister had chosen a dollar value (3grams) as opposed to what I currently use.
Yep I'm afraid that soon enough I will be back underground with evil demons controlling my thoughts as they did with this poor brave soldier.
Minister wake up and let us try to be normal no mater what it takes.
That's all that we ask.

Brothers...Sisters please ask for help if you require it.
It is not shameful or weak.


Last edited by Slaket on Wed 04 Jan 2017, 14:41; edited 1 time in total

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

Post by johnny211 on Wed 04 Jan 2017, 09:00

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/four-found-dead-upper-big-tracadie-home-1.3920457

I am sorry to see this news. As one with ptsd, I can only encourage all who suffer from it to reach out.

Johnny, Out.VVV
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Re: Vet with PTSD from Afgan, kills 3 family members and himself

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