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 Dameon on Sat 22 Jul 2017, 07:33

The irony for me is that this news story was the one that finally pushed my wife into pleading with me to get some help. If not for Lionel, I may not even be alive today. I realize that it is no consolidation for the family and friends, but their loss has at least saved one other person. Some stories never go away. RIP.

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

Post by johnny211 on Sat 22 Jul 2017, 08:03

Ha Good on you for reaching out brother. You have come upon an awesome forum. A lot on here have ptsd and all the issues with it.
Feel free to pm me or anyone on here when you require a brother or sister to talk things out.. VVV...
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Vets’ advocates urge inquiry into Desmond case

Post by Guest on Wed 16 Aug 2017, 06:01

Vets’ advocates urge inquiry into Desmond case

Published August 15, 2017 - 8:01pm
Last Updated August 15, 2017 - 8:41pm

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

Surviving relatives of Lionel Desmond and veterans’ advocates are demanding an inquiry into a triple murder-suicide that left four people dead in Upper Big Tracadie last January.

Desmond family supporters are hosting a rally for an inquiry Sept. 16 at the St. Andrews District Community Centre, organizing through the Facebook group Desmondfamilytragedy A Rally For Change.

The call for action will come roughly eight months after Desmond, an Afghanistan veteran, shot dead his mother, wife and 10-year-old daughter before turning the gun on himself, with post-traumatic stress disorder a likely factor in the killings.

“This screams for an inquiry,” said veterans’ advocate Peter Stoffer.

Veterans Affairs Canada says it has already increased access to mental health services and increased frontline staffing, including the hiring of extra caseworkers, to help former service members in crisis.

But that didn’t stop the 33-year-old Desmond from murdering his loved ones about 18 months after leaving the armed forces in July 2015, having suffered PTSD-type symptoms such as nightmares and angry outbursts after a 2007 combat tour in Afghanistan.

Stoffer said the federal government had already promised to investigate individual deaths of this nature, but he added that homicides are highly unusual, even though veterans’ suicides are not.

“It is extremely rare for someone to take the lives of other people with them,” said Stoffer.

Veteran David MacLeod, who will emcee next month’s rally, called for a wholesale medical and bureaucratic review of veterans’ care to prevent such tragedies in the future.

He said wide-ranging reforms to VAC care procedures is especially urgent in a province where the ratio of veterans to population is 4,559.92 per 100,000 — the highest such ratio in Canada.

But he warned the real number could be even higher as his figures count only those former military members signed up for care services with the VAC.

In addition, Desmond was one of many veterans with a family, meaning that the ripple effect of any homicide, suicide or conditions like PTSD affects whole communities.

“When Veterans Affairs fails vets they fail the family, fail the community and actually fail the province as well,” said MacLeod.

Desmond had received some help including medication and counselling before he was released from the military, and then again from VAC in 2016 after his discharge.

But his life unravelled in late 2016 in the last months before he murdered his loved ones and killed himself.

At the time of the killings, the Department of National Defence said there would be no board of inquiry as Desmond was not a serving soldier when he died.

“There are still really good questions as to how Lionel Desmond was treated by the Department of National Defence,” said MacLeod.

“He seems to have fallen through the cracks because information provided by the Nova Scotia Health Authority indicates that physicians were trying everything they could to get help (for him) from VAC.”

VAC spokesman Marc Lescoutre said in an email Tuesday that his department has a national network of about 4,000 community mental health professionals assisting former military and RCMP members with PTSD and other operational stress-related issues.

Other services include a VAC-funded network of 11 operational stress injury clinics across Canada, peer support clinics and face-to-face mental health counselling, and referral services for veterans and their families. Additionally, the VAC Assistance Service provides 24-7 comprehensive counselling services on a variety of issues including bereavement.

VAC and the DND are also working on a joint suicide prevention strategy to be released this fall. The strategy will outline ways to improve assistance to vulnerable veterans by ensuring better continuity of care and a more seamless transition from military to civilian life.

“One suicide is one too many,” said Lescoutre. “We have to do better when it comes to suicide prevention.”


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Family of Lionel Desmond to hold rally in support of Canadian veterans

Post by Guest on Wed 16 Aug 2017, 16:11

Family of Lionel Desmond to hold rally in support of Canadian veterans

By Alexander Quon
August 16, 2017

Cassandra Desmond, left, and her sister Chantel Desmond are seen in Antigonish, N.S. on Wednesday, June 14, 2017.

Relatives of Lionel Desmond are set to hold a rally next month in support of Canadian veterans who have yet to receive support or resources that they need.

Desmond, a 33-year-old Afghanistan war veteran, fatally shot his 52-year-old mother Brenda, his 31-year-old wife Shanna and their 10-year-old daughter Aalyiah in January, before turning the gun on himself.

Desmond’s family has said he was suffering from PTSD before the triple murder-suicide.

Cassandra Desmond, the sister of Lionel Desmond and an organizer of the event, wrote in the Facebook page of the event that they are hoping to educate not retaliate.

“For years we have been trying to prevent tragedies such as my family now suffers, but have yet to get the proper action and resources in place to get it right and continue to keep it right,” wrote Cassandra Desmond.

WATCH: Lionel Desmond murder-suicide a ‘horrific tragedy’ priest says during funeral

“When Veterans Affairs Canada fails a veteran they fail a family, a community and the province. Everyone pays a financial and emotional price.” said David MacLeod, a disabled war veteran.

“The government of Canada has studied veteran suicide since the 1990s and the government has done very little to address the situation.”

The rally is set for September 16 at the Community Centre in St. Andrews, N.S.

The event is scheduled for 12:00 to 3:00 p.m.


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Family of Lionel Desmond to hold rally Saturday, calling for change

Post by Guest on Sat 16 Sep 2017, 16:46

September 16, 2017

Family of Lionel Desmond to hold rally Saturday, calling for change

By Natasha Pace

A rally is planned for Saturday afternoon by the family of Lionel Desmond


Family and friends of Lionel Desmond are expected to gather Saturday afternoon for a rally – calling on the federal government to make changes

Desmond, 33, was an Afghanistan war veteran. He fatally shot his 10-year-old daughter Aalyiah, wife Shanna, 31, and mother Brenda, 52, in January at the family home in Upper Big Tracadie, N.S. before turning the gun on himself.

Desmond’s family says he suffered from PTSD before the triple-murder suicide.

They previously said Desmond was a kind and funny person, who changed after a tour in Afghanistan in 2007.

A Rally for Change will take place from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the St Andrews District Community Centre, about 20 minutes from where the tragedy unfolded earlier this year.

The goal of the event is to help educate the public and call on the government to do more for Canadian veterans from one end of the country to the other.

The rally is open to members of the public.

Several speakers, including Cassandra Desmond, Lionel’s sister and Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard are among the speakers scheduled to take part in the event.

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. For a list of available mental health programs and services around Canada, please refer to the list here:


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Lionel Desmond, other veterans with PTSD ‘spit out’ by JPSU

Post by Guest on Sun 17 Sep 2017, 16:08

Lionel Desmond, other veterans with PTSD ‘spit out’ by JPSU

Published September 17, 2017

Virginia Shaw, who asked not to have her picture taken, wore her Canadian Forces Memorial Cross to a rally in St. Andrews on Saturday held by the family of Lionel Desmond to raise awareness about post traumatic stress disorder. Shaw’s husband committed suicide in 2014 after a long struggle with the illness. (Aaron Beswick/The Chronicle Herald)

Ten-year-old Aaliyah Desmond was killed by her father.

When Lionel Desmond entered his mobile home in Upper Big Tracadie with a rifle in January, he also killed his wife, Shanna Desmond, and mother, Brenda Desmond.

In the wake of the horror of that Guysborough County night, the media descended on Upper Big Tracadie and a debate began in columns and televised interviews: Does blaming his post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) cloud absolve Desmond from responsibility for an act of domestic violence?

“You have three females involved with a male, which just so happens to be the son, husband and father of the other victims found in that home deceased,” said Cassandra Desmond on Saturday, intentionally including her brother as one of the victims that night.

“But this was most definitely not a case of domestic violence.”

On Saturday, Cassandra held a rally at the St. Andrew’s and District Community Centre to raise awareness of PTSD and the failure of our institutions to rehabilitate veterans into civilian society.

There were more empty chairs than occupied ones at the event that drew 36 people, mostly members of the Desmond family and a handful of veterans, to discuss an issue this country began grappling with long before tormented soldiers like Lionel Desmond began returning home from the war in Afghanistan.

A month after Aaliyah’s birth in 2007, Desmond was deployed to Kandahar with the No. 9 Platoon of the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment.

The rifleman, then 24, was in direct combat with the Taliban.

His other duties included carrying wounded on stretchers and collecting body parts of the dead.

Upon his return, Desmond was diagnosed with PTSD and eventually ended up in the Canadian Forces Joint Support Unit —- created in 2008 to help transition wounded soldiers back into civilian life.

“JPSU was more window dressing than something that could help people,” Barry Westholm told the small gathering on Saturday.

Westholm, a sergeant major in the unit, resigned after 31 years in the military in 2013 in a public protest against what he called the chronic underfunding and understaffing of the unit.

“JPSU was ill equipped to handle a person with Lionel Desmond’s needs and transition him out properly and then provide oversight,” said Westholm.

“I think very highly that that wasn’t done for Lionel Desmond because I know it wasn’t done for a series of great veterans who got tripped on their way through JPSU, spit out without transitional training and left to their own devices.”

Desmond’s immediate and extended family knew the war had changed him from the happy-go-lucky guy he once was.

“The impacts that affects me the most are the smells of dead bodies in front of me,” stated Lionel Desmond in a handwritten letter for a Veterans Appeal and Review Board review.

“. . . I seen dead/wounded people and now it plays back in my head; their memories are there. I love my country but how do I find the answer to all what’s haunting me. My wife and myself can’t even talk right to each other. I snap if anger is lashed out. I have been disturbed from sleeping and I have problems sleeping in the same bed as my wife. We have separate beds and I have trouble expressing myself.”

Despite his torment, Cassandra said that he did not submit his wife and daughter to domestic abuse.

“There is no record of my brother being violent toward Shanna,” said Cassandra.

“Anytime he would trigger an episode, he would be asked to leave. He would go willingly. He would not have to be taken out by police.”

To Cassandra, Lionel Desmond isn’t a murderer.

To her, he was a sick man who didn’t know what he was doing when he launched a raid on his family, as he had done on the Taliban in Afghanistan — approaching from the forest, slashing the tires to his wife’s truck in the driveway to prevent escape, stealing a key to the front door from his father’s truck and then going room to room.

Then he turned the gun on himself.

Shanna, who had recently become a nurse at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish, will never be able to give her opinion.

Neither will Aaliyah or Brenda, who was in the home for support.

At Saturday’s rally there was a woman who sat all alone, a woman who nearly met the same fate as Shanna.

In May 2014, Virginia Shaw was in trouble.

Her husband, Corporal Shane Porter, was beating her up and threatening to kill her in their Westville home.

“That was not the man I married,” said Shaw outside the rally.

“I had to let go when he

assaulted me. I called the police. He was removed and charged. I had to put my own safety and my children’s safety first.”

Porter, who had been diagnosed with PTSD for 16 years from his experiences serving in Afghanistan with the First Battalion, Nova Scotia Highlanders, and collecting bodies from the Swiss Air disaster, committed suicide three months later.

His hanging body was found by their 16 year-old daughter.

“This is my first outing,” said Shaw.

She also considers her husband a victim.

A man she forgives for involving her family in his own personal hell.

“The military tears you down and builds you up to a military way of living when you join,” said Shaw.

“When you get out, they should do the same. Tear you down and build you up to a civilian way of living. They never did that for my husband.”

For her part, Cassandra said the rally was not about laying blame for what happened to her family.

“Nothing good comes if we sit and continue to point blame,” she said.

“We are going to be the change we want to see.”


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We owe veterans more

Post by Guest on Tue 19 Sep 2017, 07:49

We owe veterans more

September 19, 2017

More can be done to help veterans suffering from PTSD, such as Lionel Desmond.

For 12 long years, Canada sent men and women serving in this country’s armed forces on various military missions to Afghanistan.

Three-and-a-half years after the Canadian flag was formally lowered in Kabul in March, 2014, ending this country’s official involvement in what’s still a war zone, the aftershocks — in the thousands of veterans collecting disability benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — continue to be heard across the nation.

There’s no question Ottawa has stepped up efforts in recent years to improve mental health supports for both those now serving and veterans, although it has still not been nearly enough.

More help was promised in the federal budget last spring, including investing — beginning in 2018-19 — $17.5 million over four years to create a centre of excellence on PTSD and related mental health disorders.

This summer, the Canadian Forces accepted all 11 recomendations of an expert panel reviewing the military’s mental health programs, including hiring a suicide-prevention co-ordinator.

The military is reportedly working with Veterans Affairs on a joint suicide-prevention strategy to be rolled out this fall.

Canada’s shame is that it’s taken this long to attempt to do right by the men and women this country put into harm’s way.

And despite what’s been announced, more can be done.

We’d start by echoing what we and many others have long called for — a fatality inquiry into the case of Lionel Desmond, the 33-year-old Afghan war veteran suffering from PTSD who last January killed his mother, Brenda, 52, wife, Shanna, 31, and daughter Aaliyah, 10, at their home in Upper Tracadie before committing suicide.

If the province won’t call such an inquest, the federal government — to underline its seriousness in tackling the issue of PTSD among veterans — should strike its own public inquiry into the Desmond case and other suicides linked to the mission in Afghanistan.

No stone should be left unturned in learning more about the mental scars left by that conflict. Such an inquiry could suggest new answers in terms of what still needs to be done.

Canada owes its serving men and women, and its veterans, that much.


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Veterans Affairs Minister won't comment on possible probe into veteran’s triple murder-suicide

Post by Guest on Sat 23 Sep 2017, 07:29

Veterans Affairs Minister won't comment on possible probe into veteran’s triple murder-suicide

Wilfred Desmond holds a framed photo of his grandson Lionel Desmond in his home in Lincolnville, N.S. in January.

Sept 22, 2017

The new Minister of Veterans Affairs says the government has taken the triple murder-suicide by an Afghanistan war veteran "very seriously," but he would not say whether he believes a fatality inquiry should be called to learn from the tragedy.

Minister Seamus O'Regan, appointed to the veterans' role nearly a month ago, spoke on Friday about the federal government's efforts to improve the support offered to seriously ill and wounded soldiers who are slated for release. About 10,000 military members are discharged every year and one-third of them struggle to adjust to life outside the Canadian Armed Forces, government research shows. Some vets also grapple with suicidal thoughts.

"Tragically, the taking of one's own life has become all too frequent," Mr. O'Regan told a group of senior military health officials from Canada and several other countries gathered in Toronto for a conference ahead of the Invictus Games. "We've done a remarkably good job at professionalizing recruitment and training while they're in service. We have to do as good of a job now preparing them for civilian life coming out."

Afghanistan war veteran Lionel Desmond was out of the army for just 18 months when he gunned down his daughter, wife and mother before killing himself in their home in the rural Nova Scotia community of Upper Big Tracadie in early January. An infantryman with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment in Gagetown, N.B., Mr. Desmond, 33, was struggling to overcome severe post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

Relatives and veterans' advocates held a rally near Antigonish, N.S., last weekend to call for better support for mentally ill vets and to press for a public probe to examine the care that Mr. Desmond received while in the military and after his release.

The Nova Scotia chief medical examiner is still weighing whether to recommend a fatality inquiry, a spokesman with the province's Justice Department said. The National Defence Act also gives Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan the authority to order a military board of inquiry into such a tragedy, but no commitment has been made.

Asked whether he believes a fatality inquiry is needed, Mr. O'Regan told The Globe and Mail that he didn't want to comment on the Desmond case.

"This is obviously a very serious case and one that we have taken very seriously, but I have no further comment right now," said Mr. O'Regan, who is also the associate minister of National Defence.

Forensic pathologist John Butt, who formerly served as chief medical examiner in Nova Scotia and Alberta, said a fatality inquiry should be held in the suicide of Mr. Desmond and the murders of his wife, Shanna Desmond, their 10-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, and his mother, Brenda Desmond.

"I do think there are issues here for the public to understand," Dr. Butt told The Globe. "What type of support was available here?"

An inquiry could shed light on changes that are needed in both the provincial and military health systems and in the services offered by Veterans Affairs. A fatality inquiry was held in Alberta last year to examine the suicide of Corporal Shaun Collins, who had completed two Afghanistan tours. A provincial court judge found that the military had several opportunities to prevent or reduce the suicide risk for the Edmonton soldier. Mr. Collins, 27, who suffered from severe PTSD, hanged himself in a military cell on March 11, 2011.

A continuing Globe investigation has found that more than 70 Canadian soldiers and veterans who served on the Afghanistan mission have killed themselves after returning home. Suicide is a complex phenomenon and, often, many factors are involved, such as alcohol abuse, financial troubles and relationship breakdowns.

Veterans Affairs and National Defence have been working on a joint suicide-prevention strategy, which Mr. O'Regan said is expected to be released in the next few weeks. He told the conference that the strategy's goals are to build resilience in military members and veterans, reduce suicide risk and increase support to those who are in crisis and thinking about ending their lives.

He said the two departments are also focused on making sure soldiers have all their disability and financial benefits in place before their military discharge.

"We want the Canadian Armed Forces members to begin the new chapter of their lives with the support and services they need to maintain wellness, feel respected and know that they are being properly supported," Mr. O'Regan said on the eve of the Invictus Games, which begin Saturday.

Created three years ago by Prince Harry, the Games bring together wounded, ill and injured military personnel and veterans from around the world for a week of sports competition. More than 500 athletes are competing, including 90 from Canada.


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