The Royal Canadian Legion

The Royal Canadian Legion

December 04, 2013 17:15 ET

Recommendations have Been Made That May Have Helped Suicide Victims

CAF Ombudsman's reports highlight shortcomings of mental health care systems

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Dec. 4, 2013) - The Royal Canadian Legion is very concerned about the tragic news of the fourth suicide of a Canadian Armed Forces member in a week. On behalf of The Royal Canadian Legion and our 320,000 members we offer our sincere condolences to families of these brave men.

The Legion strongly believes that all Canadians trust the Government will honour its obligation to the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and the RCMP who willingly risk injury, illness or death to serve our country, protecting the values and way of life we all enjoy. There is also a responsibility to the families of these men and women. These recent tragic events highlight that there is a perception by our serving members that there is no hope. How can a culture built on camaraderie and team work leave a soldier so isolated and so alone?

In 2012 the CAF Ombudsman stated in his report: Fortitude Under Fatigue: Assessing the Delivery of Care for Operational Stress Injuries that Canadian Forces Members Need and Deserve, that while the CAF has made significant progress to deliver integrated, holistic care for CAF members suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other operational stress injuries, the mental health care system suffers from significant shortcomings affecting the care and support provided to those suffering an operational mental health injury.

Mr. Daigle reports a persistent shortage of qualified mental health care personnel is the largest barrier to delivering high-quality care and treatment to CAF members. He found that the shortfall in the caregiver community at several military bases where operational stress injuries are most acute was the greatest. He described the mental health care system as "severely overburdened."

He also found that despite his own recommendations in 2002 and 2008 to create a national data base that would accurately reflect the number of CAF personnel affected by OSIs, these have been ignored. This database is important to ensure that there are sufficient resources available to meet the need and that they are available where needed most, for both Regular and Reserve force members. The report was also critical of a lack of qualitative performance measurement to evaluate the appropriateness of the funding allocated to mental health care or whether the current mental health system is sufficiently robust to meet the needs of those men and women who require care.

The Ombudsman's 2012 study raised concerns of an overburdened mental health system without sufficient resources and no means to monitor or measure its effectiveness to meet the needs of the men and women who willingly served their country. It is time for the Government to take immediate and proactive steps to implement the recommendations of this Report.

With the 100th anniversary of World War I just around the corner, the money and travel related to commemorating Canada's military history does not have meaning in light of the tragic events over the last week. How can we possibly justify spending money to mark the commemorations for our achievements as nation when the mental health care system supporting the men and women of the CAF, both Regular and Reserve, as well as RCMP members and all their families, who serve our country is overburden and lacking resources?

About the Legion

Established in 1926, the Legion is the largest Veterans service organization in Canada with more than 320,000 members. Its mission is to serve all Veterans including serving Canadian Forces and Royal Canadian Mounted Police members and their families, to promote Remembrance and to serve our communities and our country.

The Legion's Service Bureau Network provides assistance and representation to all Veterans including serving CF and RCMP members, and their families regarding their disability claims, benefits and services from Veterans Affairs Canada and the Veterans Review and Appeal Board. In communities across Canada it is the Legion that perpetuates Remembrance through the Poppy Campaign and Remembrance Day ceremonies. With more than 1, 450 branches, the Legion supports programs for seniors, Veterans housing, Long Term Care, youth leadership, education, sports, Cadets, Guides and Scouts.

We Will Remember Them.

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