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Serving You: Researching mental illness and addictions

The Royal Canadian Legion has been advocating for and supporting veterans and their families since 1926. High on the list of challenges facing veterans are mental illness and addiction­—which are closely linked.

Much of the Legion’s work is focused on improving the system when it comes to mental health-related services. While the Legion doesn’t directly run programs to help with mental health issues, the Service Bureau Network does everything it can to help veterans and their families access related programs, services and benefits.

A prime example is the Legion’s Operational Stress Injury (OSI) Special Section launched in 2017. It is a member-driven, peer-support network that offers help to veterans living with OSIs. The network also helps organize mental-health first aid courses across the country.

Veterans often face stigma around mental illness, something that continues to persist. It is time to dissolve this stigma and ensure Canada’s veterans can seek help, without shame or fear of reprisal, and get the help they need when they need it, for as long as they need it.

To help make this happen, the Legion has been advocating for immediate and substantial improvement in government research, programs and policy around mental health for veterans. 

To begin, research is needed to understand the increase in medical marijuana prescriptions, the efficacy of cannabinoid-based therapy and any potential side effects of using medical marijuana.

The Legion has raised a red flag over the lack of research on the controversial anti-malarial drug mefloquine and its continued impact on the health, diagnosis and treatment of veterans. Our government must undertake research into mefloquine and its side effects and ensure those affected receive the proper diagnosis and treatment.

Veterans served and sacrificed for our country, and it is our—and our government’s—duty to now stand for them and ensure they have access to the mental-health care and support they need.

Serving You is written by Legion command service officers. To reach a service officer, call toll-free 1-877-534-4666, or consult a command website. 


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