Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

May 09, 2013 14:48 ET

The Canadian Armed Forces Recognize National Nursing Week

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - May 9, 2013) - The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, and General Tom Lawson, the Chief of the Defence Staff, today recognized Canadian National Nursing Week and reiterated the Government of Canada and the defence team's commitment to the health of military personnel and the services that men and women nursing officers provide.

"The government recognizes our duty to medically support our men and women in uniform and the historic role that nursing officers have played throughout more than a century of service," said Minister MacKay. "The first women in uniform served during the South African War under the leadership of Canadian Nursing Sister Georgina Pope, and they were the first women to vote in federal elections in recognition of their service and sacrifices during World War I."

As the pioneer of Canadian military nursing, Matron Pope was the first woman to be provided the rank, pay, and benefits of an officer in the Canadian Army. Since those early beginnings, nurses have served in every major conflict in which the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have engaged.

"We are very proud of our nursing officers and thankful for the yeoman service they and their predecessors have provided throughout the last 114 years. Often serving in or near the front lines of our military operations, they have always been stalwart providers of care to combatant and non-combatant alike," said General Lawson. "They have met every challenge head-on, regardless of the level personal risk, to help save lives. On behalf of all the members of the Canadian Armed Forces, I commend our nurses for their professionalism, and I thank them for their proud tradition of selfless service."

This year's Canadian Nurses Association theme is, "Nursing: A Leading Force for Change," a theme that embodies the history, heritage and strengths of military nurses. Almost 500 Registered Nurses, military and civilian, support the CAF.

"Nurses have long been a backbone of the military medical service, not only in clinical care, but in elements of health system leadership and management, training, education, and research," said Brigadier-General Bernier, the Surgeon General. "Georgina Pope would be thrilled at how far her successors have expanded the scope and benefits of military nursing, and how their valour and competence make them so worthy of the memory of their heroic predecessors."

The Royal Canadian Mint unveiled a silver coin in 2012 featuring Matron Pope in the foreground and three military women in the background: a First World War nurse, a Second World War member of the Women's Royal Canadian Naval Service, and a CAF female member wearing modern combat attire. The coin, which pays tribute to nursing officers, can be viewed by visiting and searching for Georgina Pope.

This week, Minister MacKay and General Tom Lawson also recognized Mental Health Week and reiterated the defence team's commitment to the mental health of defence personnel and their families. The Canadian Armed Forces benefit from a robust system to provide mental health care for our military men and women. In addition to the dedicated mental health and primary care teams in our clinics, Canadian Armed Forces have access to a network of over 2,000 mental health professionals across the country available to support in the care of our personnel.

The Government of Canada is committed to providing CAF members a very high standard of health care, wherever and whenever they serve. For mental health services in particular, Minister MacKay has increased the mental health budget to an annual investment of $50 million.

Notes to editor / news director:

For more information, please see the backgrounder on Mental Health Services in the Canadian Armed Forces:

To obtain a picture of nursing officers at work, please visit the following link:

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