This morning I read about potentially the fourth suicide in less than ten days by another member of the Canadian military. There are suspicion that all four were dealing with PTSD. Yesterday Liberal Senator Roméo Dallaire, a true Canadian hero in my opinion, had a minor fender bender on his way to the Senate. With the twentieth anniversary of Rwanda and his ongoing issue with PTSD he admits he hasn’t been sleeping well and feeling quite exhausted. The comments on these stories ranged from the absurd (the usual 20% who pass off their ideology as thought) to compassion (the 60% who believe that there are “easily” accessible support programs) to the outrage from the overly informed who work with this kind of thing everyday.
The Conservative speaking notes from the current spokesperson, Laurie Hawn, basically stated these people need to speak out and seek help. Almost end of discussion. The reality is that this government is closing down nine Veterans Affairs office across Canada and substituting those services with an “app” that will allow them to interact with “someone”. Now I don’t know about you but as a 63 year old considered well versed not only to technology but to PTSD as well this solution just doesn’t cut it.
Two quick comments on that. This government needs to develop a much better understanding of what PTSD is about so they can realize how much frustration compounds this problem. Anybody with any understanding or experience with various apps knows how frustrating they can be at times, particularly when you have never used one before.
And secondly they need to realize that many vets don’t know the difference between a cell phone and a smart phone let alone how to figure out an “app”. This comment is not meant as any disrespect to our dedicated military members however it is a reality many of our over 60 year old vets are facing. Our forces should be more than a photo op for our elected officials. It’s despicable to think these individuals should return home in one piece but broken and in need of help just to be given an app then pushed out the door.
The dismantling of support services along with the current culture of “stiff upper lip” makes it very difficult to, as Mr. Hawn put it, step forward. There has been to many incidences where a veterans private file has been passed around government offices while information out of those files has been used to denigrate the veterans in question. Pat Stogran, the former Veterans Ombudsman, can attest to that. By the time he was removed from his position he had already identified any substantive change when it came to helping vets as a losing battle.
The actions of the current Conservative government have been nothing but hypocritical when it comes to our Armed Services. They have invaded veterans private files, eroded support programs, delayed the supply of adequate equipment and now vets return home to nothing. When they do receive attention it’s either for a promotional photo op by a member of government or because of a suicide and that’s not good enough.
The comment from Mr. Hawn, step up and ask for help shows just how out of touch this government is. When I listen to the current group of government sock puppets all I hear is that it is the responsibility of the veteran to seek help. Anybody who understands PTSD, or any other mental health issue for that matter, knows that denial is a big part of the disorder. Combined with a culture where mental illness is frowned upon, a system where an individuals chances for advancement could be impeded if they come forward with mental health issues and the erosion of support services where is the REAL encouragement to come forward. An “app” doesn’t cut it!
Even the Veterans Charter, which had been forced down the veterans throat to the disgust of the then Veterans Ombudsman, is now under review and seen as a dismal failure. None of the actions described above create a situation where a veteran can truly feel safe coming forward for help.
The vets I know, and that is quite a few, tell me they felt safer overseas than they do when they return home. This smoke and mirrors government is costing some of the most vulnerable of our society their lives and that type of hypocrisy is something no one in a true democracy should tolerate.
The only face of PTSD I want to see is that of a morally corrupt and egotistical government as they march out of Parliament following the next election. I just hope that our veterans don’t have to wait that long to have their needs met in an honourable and professional manner, not with an app!
Just one man’s opinion!