Legion Response to the Canadian Forces Mental Health Survey

Aug 21, 2014

Dear Editor

Legion Response to the Canadian Forces Mental Health Survey

Recent articles in the media have highlighted challenges Canada’s Veterans and serving military face in accessing help and support for PTSD and other mental health challenges. The Royal Canadian Legion raised concerns about the provision of mental health services to the Minister of National Defence in May 2012.

We were pleased with the announcement that additional funding was allocated for the provision of mental health services and with the progress to date in the hiring of additional mental health care professionals. However, there is more work to be done.

Mental health challenges are a growing issue within our military and Veteran community and the increase in PTSD rates is not that surprising considering the operational tempo during the past two decades of peace support missions and combat operations. The challenges facing Veterans, both while serving and after release, are widespread and have uniquely developed through the roles and responsibilities they take on while in service. Some Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) members may have suffered grave wounds, loss of colleagues and friends, operational stress injuries, mental health challenges including PTSD, and difficulties transitioning to civilian life.

While it is obvious Canada’s Veterans need support, recent media articles highlight that there are soldiers who have expressed fears that they will be medically discharged from the military if they seek help for their problems. This ‘stigma’ of coming forward for help has to stop; we encourage members to seek the professional medical help they need without fear of retribution or being medically discharged from service. This is a leadership issue and the goal of Mental Health care is recovery and the return to active duty.

The Legion is here to support Veterans and their families, just as we have always been. Though we cannot assist directly in the specialized area of mental health, our Service Officers can direct you to numerous programs and services available for Veterans and their families to get the help you or a Veteran you know in need. To learn more about mental health supports and resources, visit: www.legion.ca/mental-health6

The Legion also can help Veterans negotiating the challenging process of accessing benefits. If you are a Veteran, retired or a serving member needing help such as understanding your benefit entitlements, the completion of an application for disability benefits to Veterans Affairs Canada or navigating the appeals process with the Veterans Review and Appeal Board Canada, we are here to assist and guide you.

The Royal Canadian Legion will continue to advocate for changes that will enhance the life-long care for all Veterans and their families.

Lest We Forget

Tom Eagles
Dominion President