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View Peter MacKay Profile
Mr. Wilfert, I would encourage any and all input from this honourable committee in any studies you undertake. I agree with you that the priority has to remain the men and women in uniform, and the services provided to them.
I was proud this weekend to announce another of the joint personnel support units, which I know you're familiar with. They are really designed to bring together all of the various support services and programs available to the men and women in uniform, veterans, and their families, and make them more accessible, more readily available, and more easily understood, and to also increase things such as mental health care professionals. We still have a goal to double the number of mental health care professionals. This is particularly challenging, as you can appreciate, in certain remote areas where we have smaller Canadian Forces stations and bases. We want to try to have a standard of care that is available to all.
We've made significant investments in the care and treatment of grievously injured veterans as well. This remains a focal point of the Department of Veterans Affairs, but we naturally work very closely with the department.
I'd like to take this opportunity to share with you another initiative that we hope to have in place very soon. It is to allow for, and in fact encourage, the continued service of those who have been injured in combat and in the line of duty. I've undertaken quite extensive discussions with the assistant deputy of personnel, as well as the Chief of the Defence Staff and others.
I would share with committee members the very poignant and quite humbling experience of having seen two of our injured soldiers who have returned to Afghanistan with the Van Doos regiment. Both of them suffered very serious injuries, yet they are serving actively in Afghanistan. The Chief of the Defence Staff and Chief Warrant Officer of the Canadian Forces promoted them while they are serving in Afghanistan, just this past week. It was certainly a very emotional and morale-boosting experience for the troops present to see this happen, and to see the absolute courage and conviction of these soldiers to return to Afghanistan after having suffered grievous injuries there on previous tours.
We hope to institutionalize that, by the way, to make sure that members are encouraged and embraced, should they choose to stay in uniform after having suffered those injuries.
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