Month: January 2018

Even one is too many
Editorial

Even one is too many

The Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Canada announced their joint suicide-prevention strategy in October. It is “an approach we have not seen before,” said Minister of Veterans Affairs Seamus O’Regan. The strategy is an effort to co-ordinate some 160 programs and services in both departments that are targeted at reducing suicide among serving members and veterans. “One suicide is too many; zero is the target,” said Chief of the Defence Staff General Jonathan Vance. “There can be no other number.” The aim is to prevent suicide by building mental-health resilience, strengthening family and community support, providing mental-health care when and where it’s needed, and supporting research so we know we’re doing all we can, and the best we can. Many of those programs and polic...
Partnership develops peer-support program [49th Saskatchewan Convention]
News

Partnership develops peer-support program [49th Saskatchewan Convention]

Saskatchewan Command announced a new partnership it has formed to offer a peer-support program for veterans and first responders suffering from operational stress injuries (OSIs) during its 49th convention held Oct. 14-16 in Estevan. OSI-Can is a partnership between Saskatchewan Command and the Canadian Mental Health Association, Saskatchewan Division. Provincial Co-ordinator Julius Brown told delegates that those suffering from an OSI need only open one door to have access to a number of programs. “No referral is needed. Participants just need to find the courage to attend one of our courses,” said Brown. “Everything is strictly confidential and participants can maintain their anonymity.” OSI-Can provides a secure and confidential forum where participants can discuss their issues...
Sorting out the moral injuries
Health

Sorting out the moral injuries

The realization is growing that the reason some military members and veterans do not benefit from post-traumatic stress disorder treatments is that their symptoms are not caused by, or not solely caused by, PTSD. There is an overlap of symptoms of PTSD, concussion and traumatic brain injury, mefloquine toxicity and major depressive disorder. Now research has added moral injury to the list. Moral injury is a deep violation of one’s own moral or ethical standards that affects mental health. It has a range of associated feelings, such as guilt, shame, betrayal, disgust, contempt, helplessness and regret. It can occur from being victimized or taking part in something immoral or unethical. Examples include feeling at fault for the death of a comrade or guilty over the execution of helpf...
Always serving
Invictus Games

Always serving

You didn’t see any national flag raisings at the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto. There were no national anthems played at medal ceremonies, either. And while competition among the Games’ wounded, sick and injured warriors was fierce and the fans—a disproportionate number of them families and friends—were fervent, camaraderie and universal support were the order of the day. The triumph was in getting there. Or as the Games’ founder, Prince Harry, told the ragtag collection of athletes, some young, some not so young: “These Games are not about gold, silver or bronze medals. They never have been. They are about the journey that you and your families have made to the start line.” In Toronto, you saw it at the track as competitors waited at the finish line for stragglers, some e...
Forum hears of benefits of Invictus Games
News

Forum hears of benefits of Invictus Games

The Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR) forum had a royal guest—Prince Harry, patron of the Invictus Games, the international adaptive sports competition for military and veterans living with serious wounds, injuries and illness. The Invictus Games, he said, help “reignite qualities worn down by months and often years of fighting” to find a purpose, reconnect with family, get fit again, and in some cases, stay alive. “The Games not only change lives,” said Harry, “but save lives. And now that’s backed by high-quality research.” Some of that research was among the nearly 200 presentations made at the 2017 CIMVHR forum, held in tandem with the third Invictus Games in Toronto in September. The Games can be a transformative experience for competitors, sa...
Suicide prevention strategy a step forward
News

Suicide prevention strategy a step forward

Progress is finally being made in gathering accurate data on rates of suicide among Canada’s total veteran population, thanks to the Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Canada’s Joint Suicide Prevention Strategy. Statisticians currently have data on suicide for serving armed forces members, but such data has not been available for all veterans because once they leave the Forces, fewer than 20 per cent enter VAC programs. The vast majority of Canada’s estimated 670,000 veterans fall under the jurisdiction of provincial health-care programs, which may not record their military service. One objective of the joint strategy is to better determine the suicide rate among veterans. Records on 329,000 CAF personnel enrolled between 1976 and 2015 will be cross-linked by Statistics Canada...

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