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Working with horses offers a lifeline to vets

Post by Guest on Sat 15 Oct 2016, 06:03

Documentary show aims to help people with PTSD know they aren't alone.

October 14, 2016

When you have post-traumatic stress disorder, the feeling of being alone is one you know very well.

John and Sherry Johnston have experienced that but have come to learn there are others there to help.

John was sexually abused as a child, he later served seven tours of duty as a U.S. Marine including in Iraq and Afghanistan. For years, John ignored his feelings and stuffed them down. Three marriages came and went as he fought with his wives not knowing what was wrong with himself. In the end, John was diagnosed with PTSD and Dissociative Identity Disorder formerly known as multiple personality disorder.

As a child Sherry too was sexually abused and spent years trying to hide her feelings, but in 2013 it all erupted. At the time she was going through a lot. She was getting divorced, her best friend had undergone a double mastectomy and her stressful job as a nurse was taking its toll.

“I knew all my life something was wrong. Something wasn’t right with me. But I didn’t understand what it was,” she said.

In 2012 Sherry and John met at the Wounded Warriors Weekend in Nipawin. Sherry had volunteered as a medic and John had been asked to attend.

“When I met John, it was like ‘Wow somebody gets me.’ I had no idea there was somebody else out there,” Sherry said.

The friendship blossomed into a relationship and eventually they were married and now live in Tobin Lake. Their relationship has helped them to know they aren’t alone in suffering from PTSD which led them to get involved with Battle Scars.

Battle Scars is a Canadian documentary show which focuses on telling the stories of veterans and soldiers. Dixon Christie, a filmmaker from Alberta, came up with the idea for the series seven years ago.

“The veterans came and let me into their world and then eventually the soldiers let me in, you know one regiment at a time,” Christie said.

The first three seasons of the show focused on telling a variety of stories from human interest pieces on veterans to ones where Christie was embedded with soldiers on exercises. The fourth season of the show is focusing on PTSD and telling the stories of veterans, emergency responders and anyone else with PTSD.

Christie, John and Sherry are currently travelling across Saskatchewan stopping at Legions in cities to gather stories about people with PTSD.

“The most important thing you can have is the knowledge that you’re not alone in your suffering and that certain issue that you face, like anxiety, depression and so many more issues like that, other people are actually experiencing the same things,” Christie said.

The group is in Regina filming stories of PTSD until Saturday.


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Through the eyes of a soldier

Post by Guest on Sat 08 Oct 2016, 06:26

Through the eyes of a soldier.

October 07, 2016

Documentary project tells the stories of PTSD

Dixon Christie has seen through the eyes of soldiers across this country.

The Alberta-born filmmaker travels across Canada, interviewing soldiers and veterans about their experiences. He’s been producing the series ‘Battle Scars’ for nine years.

His new focus is on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Christie and his team will be in Moose Jaw Tuesday to film short documentaries, telling the story of PTSD from the perspective of local veterans.

“Our volunteer crew is travelling across Saskatchewan doing presentations,” Christie said.

“We do a little chat and we open the floor for people to ask questions about PTSD. We’re working with a lot of first responders and frontline workers this season to expand the scope, and to let people know they’re not alone in their PTSD.”

After a peer discussion, Christie has private interview sessions where people tell their stories on camera.
The stories get cut into little documentaries and posted online.

“We hope that through the storytelling process, and through sharing these experiences we’ll reach tens of thousands of people. We know stories heal people,” he said.


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Canadian veteran applying PTSD lessons to workplace stress

Post by Guest on Mon 03 Oct 2016, 17:48

Canadian veteran applying PTSD lessons to workplace stress.

Oct 03, 2016

A retired Canadian soldier is applying what he learned dealing with PTSD from the Rwandan genocide to the mental health problems of the Canadian workplace.
He’s not trying to say that working in Canada is anything like those dark 100 days of killing. But retired Lt.-Col. Stéphane Grenier is saying that stress injuries happen at regular workplaces all the time, and that’s where a more social solution needs to take place.
Grenier was in Ottawa for Mental Illness Awareness Week, which takes place between Oct. 2 and 8.
He spoke with Metro about his experience dealing with his own mental health and the changes he helped implement in the Canadian Forces. His interest began when he first started having mental health troubles.
Grenier had been in the military for about 10 years when he was deployed to Rwanda in 1994. He spent nine months there before finally going home. It was many months before he realized he’d come home with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. In hindsight, he says the illness was acting on him the moment he got home.
The first sign of it was when he saw his children.
“I came home and my two kids were in their pyjamas ... I sort of collapsed to my knees and took my kids and was crying,” said Grenier.
You might dismiss that as normal, he said, but he recalls two surges of emotion in that moment. One was happiness to see his kids, and the other was relief that they were alive.

“I had seen so many dead children … I was happy but at the same time it was very tormenting,” he said.

Once Grenier realized he had PTSD, he found that help was available to him. It was clinical help – pills and doctors. But the support of regular people was missing.
That’s the problem with terms like “PTSD”, he said. It makes people think they need to be doctors to help.
Grenier sought to change that. He coined the term “operational stress injury”, and pushed for and managed a national peer support program in the Canadian Forces.
Now he’s trying to apply the same thing to the workplace where he says mental health has been similarly pushed into the clinical realm.
It doesn’t matter that what caused the stress injury wasn’t a war zone. “Stress is stress,” he said, and peer support is an important way to deal with it.


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PTSD support group shares stories of anguish, fear, resilience

Post by Guest on Sun 02 Oct 2016, 06:30

PTSD support group shares stories of anguish, fear, resilience.

Oct 01, 2016

Veteran Don Hookey pauses for a moment, blinking rapidly and shifting his gaze from side to side. He takes a deep breath and fixes his stare on the man in front of him.

"I tried to OD on my pain meds," he says.

To his left, two more voices speak up.

"So did I."

"And so did I. Multiple times."

Hookey lives with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The condition affects about eight per cent of the population, with figures much higher in those who have survived war or sexual assault. The effects are life-altering and chronic, with an ability to strike at any moment.

To learn more about coping with trauma, Here and Now's Jonathan Crowe sat down with four people who deal with the disorder in their daily lives.

A 16-year veteran of the Canadian Forces, Hookey's struggles with PTSD began with a recovery mission in the waters off Nova Scotia in September 1998.

Aboard HMCS Preserver, he was dispatched to the recovery mission of Swiss Air Flight 111. The plane crashed into St. Margaret's Bay, killing all 229 passengers and crew. Many of the passengers were children, and only one was identifiable by sight.

"We were what they called the floating morgue," Hookey said. "All the debris from the plane came on board and we sorted through it. It was pretty gruesome."

Coupled with a 2006 tour of duty in Afghanistan, the experiences left Hookey riddled with trauma. He drank too much, angered too easily and struggled to control his emotions.

After conversations with his wife, he sought help.

"I still have the nightmares," Hookey said. "I still have the panic attacks. But not as regularly as I used to … I would love to have a full night's sleep."

PTSD drove Hookey to the point of an overdose, but the people around him have kept him alive.

"Hope is something you try to look for through this," he said before letting out a quivering sigh. "I got a real strong family with me. If it wasn't for my family I wouldn't be here now."

​Another veteran, MacWhirter was on the same tour as Hookey.

He said the defining moment of his Afghan experience came while speaking to his wife, Vanessa, on the phone one night.

It was 2 a.m., under the cloak of darkness, when Taliban fighters fired a rocket over the top of his head. He told Vanessa he was watching a movie and quickly hung up. Rockets continued to rush over his head. Unable to spot the enemy, MacWhirter couldn't defend himself.

"I thought I was going to die," he said. "So what do you do when you think you are going to die? I picked up the satellite phone and called my mother back in Newfoundland."

He told her he didn't want to talk. He just wanted to hear her voice.

He asked her to pass along one last message: "Tell everyone I did my best over here, and tell everyone I love them."

MacWhirter said he then hung up the phone and waited to die — waited for one final rocket that never came.

Once back in Newfoundland, sleep deprived and riddled with anxiety, MacWhirter said it was a visit to the dentist that convinced him it was time to finally seek help for his anxiety.

While under anesthesia for a wisdom tooth extraction, the flashbacks hit. He screamed and struggled. Eventually, he was strapped to the chair by the dentist.

Since then, his disorder has been a major part of his life. MacWhirter has written two books on his experiences and founded PTSD Buddies, a local support group.

He said the best way he can describe the disorder is the same way he explains it to his children.

"I said, 'Dad has PTSD. That means he can't control his emotions anymore. So he's going to get angry for no reason. He's going to get sad for no reason.' And I let them know it's not their fault."

Since age 12, Amanda Murphy displayed signs of mental trauma.

She was often sad, and always withdrawn. She pushed away her friends and family for their own good — or so she thought.

"I thought I was toxic," she said. "I thought anyone that cared about me only did so because it was something they felt like they had to do, and that I was actually really, really hurting them."

Fourteen years later, Murphy was diagnosed with PTSD related to childhood sexual abuse.

She became addicted to painkillers. She lost her job. A relationship fell to ruins. She lost all independence.

She said the nightmares came on heavy, whether she was asleep or awake.

"I'm not here anymore," she said of the flashbacks. "I'm right back to there. I can see, I can hear, I can smell … You get trapped in the past and sometimes you can't bring yourself back out of it."

But despite suicide attempts and painful flashbacks, she is still here.

"What keeps me going every single day is that if someone can see where I've been and see how far I've come, then maybe they'll find the strength to hold on too."

Vanessa MacWhirter knows all about the difficulties of living with PTSD, despite not having the disorder herself — that's because she's married to Jamie MacWhirter.

"It's a roller-coaster," she said. "Some days are better than others … You're flexible, you're compassionate and you try to deal with it the best you can when it comes around."

At his darkest times, Jamie said he's thought that his wife and children would be better off without him.

To combat the darkness, Vanessa has developed techniques. She tries to use humour as much as possible to diffuse situations. When an episode is coming, the family has a safe word: turnip.

"We all know [then] to back off. We all know they need some space, and then we can come back and address it," she said. "You have to be forgiving when it comes to these situations."


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Soldiers with PTSD denied tax break for service dogs

Post by Guest on Wed 21 Sep 2016, 06:32

Antiquated' rules mean soldiers with PTSD denied tax break for service dogs.

September 20, 2016

A Canadian military veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder says soldiers like him have been treated unfairly by government tax rules that force people with PTSD to pay more for service dogs than some other owners.
Sergeant Stuart Rodgers, a former Special Forces soldier who was diagnosed with PTSD after serving in Afghanistan and the former Yugoslavia, says his service dog, Zeeban, has had a “profound impact” on his life.
"I had a lot of anger issues. I closed myself off to everybody," Rodgers told CTV News. “It's like he unlocked the front door for me. He's allowed me to go out and participate with my family, go out and participate in my life.”

But unlike service dog owners with chronic conditions such as epilepsy or autism, Rodgers is ineligible for medical tax write-offs for expenses such as veterinary bills and dog food. The reason: PTSD isn’t on the government’s list of qualified conditions for the tax break.
“The current tax code is antiquated and it doesn't reflect the reality of the times,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers spends about $2,500 each year caring for Zeeban, and he paid $2,000 just to transport the specially-trained canine to his home. At least 100 other veterans with PTSD rely on similar day-to-day help from service dogs.
Frustrated by the tax rules, Rodgers petitioned the government to amend its position on PTSD. In response, he received a letter from Finance Minister Bill Morneau.
"The list of eligible expenses is regularly reviewed and expanded... your suggestion... will be taken into consideration," Morneau said in the letter.
Rodgers said he wasn’t satisfied by the response.
“I did find that it was kind of maybe a bit of a brush-off,” he said.
Philip Ralph, national program director for veterans’ charity Wounded Warriors Canada, says the double-standard needs to be rectified.

“The dog is every bit as much a part of that veteran re-engaging with society as a wheelchair would be for somebody who is disabled,” Ralph said.
Ralph said that inaction from the government “seems to me to be discriminatory.”
Estimates suggest that up to 10 per cent of veterans who serve in war zones (including those in peacekeeping forces) later experience PTSD, according to statistics from Veterans Affairs Canada. Other veterans can experience symptoms of the condition, including distressing memories, nightmares, flashbacks, gaps in memory and feeling detached from loved ones.


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Fake guns, real cause

Post by Guest on Sat 17 Sep 2016, 07:03

Fake guns, real cause.

Hundreds wage (pretend) war to help fight PTSD.

Sep 17, 2016

As bullets ping like hail off the hull, Andre Drouin brings his tank-like military transport to a halt.
He’s dead again.
“We got hit by a grenade,” he explains. “God-damned Taliban!”
Drouin, owner of Four Tracks All-Terrain Ltd., is a volunteer in Operation Valour – what’s likely Western Canada’s biggest airsoft tournament. He’s one of some 223 people here at the Grunts Paintball field north of Morinville this Sept. 10 to shoot pretend guns in support of victims of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Drouin is driving one of the two tank-like Hagglunds BV206s at the event. Whichever team shoots him can capture his vehicle and get its gunner, Claude Villeneuve, to rain some 3,500 rounds per minute down on their enemies using the roof-mounted replica minigun.
“They’re throwing a lot of grenades and all sorts of mines and RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) at us, so it’s very hard to stay alive for long because I’m a big target,” he says.
“Can we move?” asks Villeneuve, in his thick French accent, his upper half sticking out of the roof in the turret.
“Let’s go! I want to go on a rampage! We’ve got Taliban to kill!”
Soon, Villeneuve gets his wish. The air-powered automatic buzzes like a chainsaw as it spews pelletized death. Outside, players in full camouflage gear return fire with replica assault rifles and machine guns, weapons whirring like homicidal ATMs that dispense bullets instead of bills.
Projectiles zip through the trees as men and women battle, almost invisible to each other in the foliage. Firework grenades and rockets whistle and crack. The air is full of the chatter of machine guns, the fog of smoke grenades, and cries of “Hit!” and “Medic!”
Healing war wounds
Overseeing the chaos is Scott Collacutt, founder of Operation Valour and 21-year veteran of the Canadian Forces.

He also has PTSD.
A long-time paintball and airsoft enthusiast, Collacutt says he created this fundraiser in 2013 because he knew friends who lost their lives to PTSD and was tired of hearing about that happening. Since he wanted military vets involved, he went with a combat-focused airsoft event instead of a run or telethon.
Operation Valour raises money for non-profit groups that support those with PTSD, he says. This year’s group is the War Horse Awareness Foundation, which uses horses to help front-line service providers with occupational stress injuries.
PTSD is a mental condition that can develop after someone witnesses or experiences a traumatic event, reports the PTSD Association of Canada. Symptoms include fear, anger, flashbacks, anxiety, depression and aversion to social contact.
About 11 per cent of Canadian soldiers will have symptoms of PTSD in their lifetime, Statistics Canada reports.
Collacutt, who lives just outside of St. Albert, developed PTSD after serving with UN forces in Bosnia in the early 1990s. One of his first jobs was to help clear out Zetra Olympic Hall, which had been used as a makeshift morgue and filled with thousands of corpses, many of which were booby-trapped.
“We used 45-gallon drums of bleach,” Collacutt recalls.
Mortars would rain down for days on end, sometimes two or three per hour, making sleep impossible. Troops would have to listen to enemy forces rape and torture women less than a block away as, due to the UN’s rules of engagement, they were forbidden to try and stop it.
“It was not something we were ever taught to deal with,” he says, and it messed up a lot of good soldiers.
“It was probably one of the worst times of my life.”
There was no place to decompress when he got back, and just one psychologist available for the whole Edmonton Garrison, Collacutt says. When he was diagnosed with PTSD in 1998 and medically discharged, it felt like the military slammed a door in his face.

“I was runner-up for soldier of the year in ’93 and I had a 35-year military career in front of me. It all just evaporated with the title of PTSD.”
The smells of bleach or burning rubble would instantly trigger memories of Bosnia. He became irritable and quick to anger. He felt useless.
“It was agonizing just to get off the couch.”
With the help of his family and cognitive psychotherapy, Collacutt found life after PTSD. He started Force On Force Tactical in St. Albert (which folded due to a flood) and Grunts Paintball, and now works for Four Tracks.
The gear
Airsoft is a military simulation sport where players shoot each other with plastic or biodegradable BBs fired from model guns. The sport emphasizes realistic firearms and tactics.
You can get an airsoft replica of virtually any gun, Collacutt says. Unlike real guns, airsoft models use compressed gas or an electric piston instead of gunpowder to shoot their ammunition.
BBs typically move at under 500 feet per second, and sting like a big rubber band to the face. They don’t burst like paintballs, so it’s up to players to declare a hit – a fact many will not notice due to all the gear they’re wearing, Collacutt notes.
Airsoft guns run for anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, Collacutt says. BBs are cheap, with a bottle of 5,000 going for $25.
While most competitors at Operation Valour have assault rifles, many also pack pistols, grenades, and, in the case of one volunteer dressed as a Taliban elder, a rocket launcher that shoots tiny, whistling fireworks.
Collacutt says he’s seen other airsoft events that use bazookas and Claymore mines that shoot scores of BBs at once. One team last year had a howitzer that could lob a football-sized “shell” some 600 feet.

Airsoft guns are not toys, Collacutt says. They are projectile weapons, and can cause serious injury in some circumstances.
BBs can draw blood, break teeth and injure eyes, says Cst. David Ferguson of the St. Albert RCMP, who took part in Operation Valour. The realism of airsoft guns can also cause tense standoffs with the police.
“Treat it like a real gun,” he says of airsoft weapons.
Ferguson says to always wear goggles when playing airsoft and to never point your weapon at someone who’s not playing. Post warning signs if you’re holding a match in public view, and if the cops show up, drop your gun immediately and follow their orders.
Serious fun
The troops gather around head referee Jeff Medynski, who reads out the rules.
Today’s scenario pits the Canadian red team against the Opposing Force in blue, he explains. The reds attacked the blues, realized there were a lot more blues than they thought, and now have to resupply or be overrun. The reds have radios and maps, while the blues have numbers. Both have to deal with the Taliban-esque silver team, which starts with control of the big vehicles. Whoever seizes the most supply drops and blows up their opponent’s command post wins.
Stony Plain firefighter Brock Adams spent most of the event picking people off from a sniper’s nest using a scoped L96 bolt-action airsoft rifle.
“Loving the culture (of the sport) so far,” he says.
“Guys seem to get along really well. The last paintball scenario I was at, we had a fistfight!”
Like most players here, he cites the adrenaline rush as a big part of airsoft’s appeal.
“It’s exciting. You get your heart rate up, as you don’t want to get shot.”
Airsoft teaches you teamwork and gives you a chance to talk to military veterans, Adams says. It’s more realistic than paintball, and much less messy.
Ferguson says airsoft is a great workout, and also a good way for police to practice skills they don’t use every day.
“Thankfully, it’s not every day that people are shooting at us.”
Many other players at the event cite airsoft as a great way to let off steam.
For non-veterans, airsoft is a chance to play soldier for a day, Collacutt says.
“I don’t know how many (people) I’ve heard say, ‘Oh, this is so cool! I wish I had gone into the military when I was younger.’”
For veterans with PTSD, airsoft is like comfort food, Collacutt says: a chance to get out of the home, use familiar tools and skills and hang out with fellow soldiers.
“You know that you’re going home at the end of the day.”
By the end of the day, Team Canada has taken the win in a hail of faux bombs and bullets. But the real winner is War Horse, which will get a cheque for about $10,000 due to everyone’s efforts.
Although he loves doing it, Collacutt says his ultimate goal is to make Operation Valour unnecessary.
“I don’t want to continue to do this (fundraiser). I want the government to feel ashamed.”
Collacutt says he wants to shame the government into giving groups like War Horse the funding they need to support veterans with PTSD.
“If the government’s willing to send us over into those areas, they should be willing to fix us when we come back.”


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Scholarships serve as recognition for Canadian veterans with PTSD

Post by Guest on Mon 12 Sep 2016, 12:24

Scholarships serve as recognition for Canadian veterans with PTSD.

Sep. 11, 2016

For long stretches during her childhood, Kayla Wiens would go without seeing her dad. He was a cook in the military, deploying on sea tours and to war-battered Bosnia, Croatia and the Persian Gulf.

Over time, the father of three started having trouble with his mental health. He’d get worked up over silly things, lose his temper and then shut down. After retiring from the Canadian Forces in 2015 – a year after he was on a warship when its engine room erupted in fire – Dwight Wiens was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. But he had to battle to get the help he needed.

Watching her father struggle for medical assistance made Ms. Wiens feel like her whole family was being cast aside. But a new scholarship program for children of military parents coping with PTSD shows them that they matter, she said.

“Growing up in a military family is not the easiest thing in the world,” said the 17-year-old college student from Sooke, B.C. “You don’t see your dad for months on end. You never know if he’s going to come home.”

The Wounded Warriors Canada scholarship fund, created this year, is the first in the country to focus solely on helping the children of military members affected by PTSD or other mental illnesses linked to their service. Ms. Wiens is one of eight students chosen to receive $5,000 for the school year. The award has greatly eased her financial stress as she begins paying for a four-year athletic and exercise therapy program at Camosun College in Victoria.

For her father, the scholarship represents recognition. Most other forms of military education aid are for children of the deceased.

“They honour the people who have died, but have forgotten about the people at home,” he said, choking back tears. “There are lots of people out there that are hurt, that need the help, that aren’t being recognized.”

The Wounded Warriors scholarship is also available to children who lost a military parent to suicide. When The Globe and Mail surveyed 22 private and government education-assistance programs available to children of deceased veterans in the spring, it found that only two – Canada Company and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology’s Fallen Heroes Scholarship – did not extend to deaths by suicide.

Since then, both Canada Company and NAIT have changed their rules. Canada Company, a charity created during the country’s involvement in the Afghanistan war, expanded its scholarship program to include suicide in June. NAIT revealed to The Globe last weekSept. 8 that it will start in January accepting scholarship applications from students whose parent died by suicide and whose death was linked to service in the military, police, firefighting or paramedic work.

“We review programs on a regular basis, and recognize scholarship criteria can evolve,” Mike Meldrum, associate vice-president of advancement at the Edmonton-based school, said in a statement. “We’re pleased to acknowledge the needs of all immediate family members of fallen heroes, including those lives lost to suicide.”

Wounded Warriors executive director Scott Maxwell said the organization wants to keep growing its scholarship fund, valued at $40,000, to help as many children and their families as possible. He said the applicants’ stories were heart-wrenching. Many are “walking on eggshells, not sure what mom or dad [they’re] going to wake up to the next day.”

Scholarship recipient Calissa Daly’s father joined the military when he was 17 – the same age she is now, in her first year at Acadia University in Nova Scotia. Her father deployed to Cyprus, three times to Bosnia and twice to Afghanistan, where he was part of the Canadian military’s intelligence team. He was medically released from the Forces in 2014 and has been diagnosed with PTSD.

He and his wife, a nurse, have tried to shield their three children from his recurring nightmares and temper flare-ups.

“He is my favourite person in the world,” Ms. Daly said, her voice cracking with emotion. “I think I appreciate him more because of this. I just realized how strong he was, dealing with [PTSD] and still coming to all my curling games, all my rugby games. Still being present and being a family guy.”


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Three-week program aids PTSD sufferers

Post by Bruce72 on Sat 10 Sep 2016, 10:01

Close to one in six members of the Canadian military returning from deployment suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For police, the numbers are even higher.

Now, a 20-day residential program in Vernon is helping military veterans and retired RCMP members to heal from their invisible injuries.

“Because of their unique role in our society, many military and police members are exposed to highly traumatic events. They are exposed to dangerous situations on a repeated basis, and they have to deal with multiple trauma involving others,” said psychologist Dr. Gordon Davidson, director of the Operational Stress Recovery Program.

“This can result in chronic anxiety and depression, and PTSD symptoms including flashbacks, nightmares, emotional numbing, insomnia, hyper-vigilance, irritability, agitation and social isolation. These difficulties often take a heavy toll on relationships.”

This first-of-its-kind Canadian program sees specially-trained counsellors help the military and police to recover from trauma using both individual and group counseling.

The program enjoys the endorsement of several veterans groups and accepts Veterans Affairs Canada health identification cards.

A specialized program for women assists participants recover from traumatic experiences in the line of duty, which may include sexual harassment and bullying from colleagues.

Most participants find considerable relief in being able to relate to others having similar experiences, especially as many have become socially isolated after they retire. The group format provides important support and understanding from other participants.

Evidence based methods include biofeedback, neurofeedback, mindfulness and relaxation strategies for emotional self regulation, eye movement and desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and cognitive behavioral therapy are used to reduce and manage traumatic memories.

In group educational sessions participants learn resilience strategies, conflict resolution, communication and group membership skills.

For the comfort of attendees, pets or service pets are welcome during the course of the program.

For participants with spouses, partners may attend a couples’ educational program  during the last three days.

For more information, visit www.OperationalStress

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Re: Working with horses offers a lifeline to vets

Post by Panserbjørn on Mon 05 Sep 2016, 14:50

I could only find a report from 2014 but it looks pretty solid for veterans who receive PIA also receiving the PIAS.

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Re: Working with horses offers a lifeline to vets

Post by johnny211 on Mon 05 Sep 2016, 14:17

6608 - I am curious about the actual numbers for the statement -
"The standard to qualify requires the veteran to be deemed totally and permanently disabled with a physical or mental health issue that prevents him or her from performing “any occupation.” This is a fairly high threshold to meet. Research has shown that an extremely small number of Canadian Forces members have received this ongoing benefit following the retraining period."
Going back 5 years and too today I wonder what these TPI stats look like? I don't think its something that is public, but I could be wrong. VVV...
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Veterans deserve PTSD disability presumption

Post by 6608 on Mon 05 Sep 2016, 09:11

Here is an article from The Lawyers Weekly.....................

Veterans deserve PTSD disability presumption

By Brad Moscato
September 09 2016 issue

The Ontario government recently passed legislation that creates a presumption where post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosed in first responders (police officers, firefighters, paramedics, etc.) is work-related, thus allowing for faster access to benefits.

Bill 163, Supporting Ontario’s First Responders Act, was enacted earlier this year in order to amend the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act and the Ministry of Labour Act. This presumption in favour of granting benefits (first responders no longer have to prove their PTSD is the result of their job) has been welcomed by advocacy groups, such as the Canadian Mental Health Association.

According to the CMHA, military personnel are also more likely than the general working age population to experience PTSD. The Department of National Defence and Veteran Affairs Canada provide some rehabilitation and financial compensation for disabled members; however, some of these benefits end after a few years of active service; require applications submitted within a specific time period; require proof a disability relates directly to a member’s work; and/or require very high thresholds of disability for continuing compensation.

In theory, workers’ compensation programs insure a worker’s actual lifetime earnings. This program is not available to Canadian Forces members or veterans. Instead, the earnings loss (long term disability) benefit available to Canadian Forces members does not provide a presumption for those suffering from PTSD and does not provide lifetime benefits. This is distinct, for example, from the Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-establishment and Compensation Act (CFMVRCA), where members may qualify for a one-time lump sum payment for severe disability.

Without access to a presumption-related disability benefit, Canada’s veterans may not be able to obtain adequate benefits and treatment for PTSD and related disorders, on a long-term basis.

A 2013 Canadian Forces Mental Health Survey revealed 5.3 per cent of full-time regular force members had experienced symptoms consistent with PTSD in the preceding 12 months. The survey defined PTSD as occurring if, after witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event, a person had symptoms including “repeated reliving of the event, disturbance of day-to-day activity, avoidance of stimuli associated with the event, and irritability, outbursts of anger, or sleeping difficulty,” for at least a month. But as the CMHA cautions, “some trauma, particularly repeated acts like abuse or trauma during wartime, can impact a person’s life far beyond the symptoms of PTSD.” Moreover, the statistics likely do not reveal the true number of Canadian Forces members suffering from PTSD and related symptoms.

If a disabled member is not discharged from the Canadian Armed Forces, she or he generally transitions from full-time work that may require serving in conflict zones to part-time work at a local unit. A member in this situation receives one-half day’s pay per week. To obtain more income, the individual either needs other military work or must venture into the civilian workforce.

When a disabled veteran is released from the Canadian Forces to civilian life, she or he may be eligible for a disability award (based on entitlement of service and assessment of injury) that provides immediate financial support following a severe injury. If support is required, it would come in the form of the LTD benefit. The benefit is taxable. It is available when a member participates in rehabilitation/retraining programs, which usually last two to four years (“retraining period”). It is primarily paid through a private insurance plan to which members contribute.

Once the retraining period ends, some severely disabled veterans may qualify for the Permanent Impairment Allowance (PIA) and Permanent Impairment Supplement (PIS) programs. The standard to qualify requires the veteran to be deemed totally and permanently disabled with a physical or mental health issue that prevents him or her from performing “any occupation.” This is a fairly high threshold to meet. Research has shown that an extremely small number of Canadian Forces members have received this ongoing benefit following the retraining period.

Meanwhile, some disabled veterans who are suffering from PTSD and who have been denied their LTD benefit, attempt to re-enter the workforce, often prematurely, to see if they can continue to work and in order to receive some form of income to survive. However, many struggle and are not even able to make it through the first year of work. Under the circumstances, they are typically ineligible for long-term disability benefits under insurance plans through their new employer since these LTD plans often state an individual is denied coverage for benefits if they become ill within the first year of employment due to a “pre-existing” clause.

Canadian Armed Forces members disabled in active duty and suffering from PTSD should be afforded a disability benefits compensation program where a presumption of disability exists. Nothing less is acceptable.

Brad Moscato is a partner with Howie, Sacks and Henry LLP.

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Re: Working with horses offers a lifeline to vets

Post by pinger on Wed 17 Aug 2016, 20:29

Tx for that Danny. It is a good article with straight shyte.
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Re: Working with horses offers a lifeline to vets

Post by Dannypaj on Wed 17 Aug 2016, 05:03

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First responder PTSD similar to combat vets

Post by Guest on Tue 16 Aug 2016, 11:08

First responder PTSD similar to combat vets.

AUGUST 16, 2016

TORONTO - Toronto’s first responders are experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder at rates comparable to combat veterans, new research shows.

Pulling a child from a car wreck or responding to a house fire with multiple victims is the same as seeing action on a battle ground, a report released Tuesday at the International Association of Fire Fighters conference says.

The report — PTSD and Cancer: Growing Number of Fire Fighters at Risk — says understanding the effects of the hazards is critical to keep first responders safe and on the job.

“Neither of these hidden hazards (PTSD and cancer from exposure to burning toxins) is adequately addressed in current protocols for treatment and remediation,” the study says.

PTSD danger aside, the report states cancer rates run significantly higher for firefighters than most Canadians.

“This sheds light on the dramatic need for communities and their legislators to understand and act to address the hidden toll being inflicted on the men and women of the fire service,” said Frank Ramagnano, president of the Toronto Professional Fire Fighters’ Association.

“(We are) calling on elected officials at all levels of government to enact laws and develop enhanced protocols to help protect firefighters from these hidden health hazards, including more research, additional training, enhanced safety equipment and protocols to identify and treat the early signs so firefighters can get help before it’s too late.”

A study of a group of Canadian firefighters showed rates of PTSD of more than 17%.

A separate study of 402 professional firefighters from Germany found that the PTSD rate was at 18%.

While no such study has been done in Toronto, the TPFFA believes the rates of PTSD would be similar.

“New advanced protocols are needed to help prevent PTSD and cancer from taking hold and more elected officials need to step up and support laws that help firefighters afflicted with these hidden hazards.” said IAFF president Harold Schaitberger.

Earlier this year in Ontario, the government passed legislation which creates the presumption that diagnosed PTSD in first responders is work related.

By 2017, the province plans to increase the number of fire-fighting work-related cancers, such as prostate and skin cancer, for compensation.


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Fort McMurray wildfire subject of case study on PTSD

Post by Guest on Tue 16 Aug 2016, 05:53

‘It takes a toll on a person’: Fort McMurray wildfire subject of case study on PTSD.

August 15, 2016

A pair of Quebec researchers is hoping the mass evacuation of about 80,000 people during May’s Fort McMurray wildfire will provide them with a unique opportunity to learn more about the symptoms and effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“It’s a catastrophe…we don’t have often in Canada, such a large-scale catastrophe,” Camille Pepin, one of the researchers involved, said. “A lot of people went through a trauma because they were afraid to die…many people actually drove through the flames.”

Pepin and Laura Savage, both psychology graduate students and research assistants at Laval University, have already spent three weeks interviewing Fort McMurray residents about their experiences during the disaster. Now, the team is in Edmonton to interview more survivors and is looking for 300 evacuees to complete an online survey.

While nobody died directly as a result of the wildfires and injuries as a result of the disaster were kept to a minimum, Pepin says in the chaos of the situation, many people didn’t know at the time whether loved ones had been injured or killed.

“Some families were separated, the children were going north with the school buses for example, and the parents were driving south,” she said. “There was a lot of fear so that’s what makes this a special combination of events, which sadly leads to a lot of post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.”

Pepin and Save say they want to learn about how the state of emergency affected how people think and sleep and what impact the fires had on mental disorders like depression and anxiety. They also hope to evaluate what kinds of symptoms of PTSD evacuees are still experiencing and what coping strategies people have been employing to get through the ordeal.

“I think the literature on this disorder has focused more on (military) veterans and people who experienced the war,” Pepin said. “It’s easy to forget that escaping a fire…can also lead to post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Sandra Legacy is a 50-year-old wife, mother and grandmother of four. Her family was able to escape the blaze but lost their home and in the chaos of fleeing the fire, she was separated from her husband and daughter for three days. While taking refuge at Northlands in Edmonton, Legacy says her phone was broken and she wasn’t even sure where her family was or if everyone was OK.

“When you go through a traumatic event, it follows you,” Legacy, who already filled out the online survey, said. “I’m thankful to these researchers who have taken it upon themselves to want to study this and I think it’s very important.”

Legacy says she already struggled with anxiety and depression before the wildfire broke out and that she already had difficulty dealing with high-stress situations.

“Escaping from a fire would definitely fall into all of those categories,” she added. “I still have lingering flashbacks of the actual escape from the fire. I have nightmares…just closing my eyes, I see flames that are so vivid.”

“In Fort McMurray, we saw it a lot – people who feel like they need to be strong, they don’t have time to feel bad, they don’t have time to express their feelings but it is a trauma,” Pepin added. “Escaping a fire is a trauma – definitely – and it’s OK to feel bad.”

She says some people are experiencing mental health issues connected to “survivor’s guilt” because they didn’t lose their homes or endure any financial hardships.

The project is the brainchild of Dr. Geneviève Belleville, a psychologist with Laval University.

Pepin and Savage hope evacuees who participate in their research project use it as an opportunity to reflect on their wildfire experiences while acknowledging for many, revisiting the disaster can bring up painful memories.

“I hope people are more open to understanding that, ‘OK, it’s over, get on with your life’ is not realistic,” Legacy said. “Yes, we have survived the fire, we are alive, however, we are not living our lives normally and it takes a toll on a person.”


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Re: Working with horses offers a lifeline to vets

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