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Results: 121 - 135 of 2664
Alain Beaudet
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Alain Beaudet
2011-03-02 17:23
Removing the stigma would already be a huge step. It would involve explaining that it is not a weakness or an inadequate behaviour coming through, but an actual biological phenomenon.
Alain Beaudet
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Alain Beaudet
2011-03-02 17:23
We already have medications. Sometimes they aren't as effective as we'd like them to be, but they exist already.
View Peter Stoffer Profile
NDP (NS)
I have a quick question, sir.
With regard to the cultural differences between the forties and fifties and now, you obviously see a lot more violence on television, in various games, and in the exposure people have to it. Is there any research you know of that is linking cultural differences between, say, what World War II and Korean veterans went through compared to what our modern-day veterans are going through in terms of just the atmosphere around us? The situations are completely different. It was more black and white. You saw the blue enemy over there, you were the red enemy, and you just fought. Now you don't know who the enemy is. It's quite different.
As Roméo Dallaire and others have testified before, it is a really difficult circumstance to ascertain what to do in a particular situation even though you've been given all the training. And the aspect of our cultural differences of what you witness.... The gentleman who wrote that book FOB DOC about his experiences as a medical officer at the front line--I believe he was from the Sudbury area--said that for relief the guys in the forward bases would play these very violent games on their Play Stations or whatever it is they have out there.
So here they are, patrolling in real life, shooting at people, and then, for relaxation, they shoot in simulation. Would you know of any research that shows a connection in that regard?
View Peter Stoffer Profile
NDP (NS)
I'm just throwing that out there, because I can't help but think.... I find it rather amusing in some ways--I don't know if that's the right word--that a guy who in the daytime goes out with a live C7 rifle, hunts down people, and maybe takes a shot at them, for relief goes back to his game station and does it in simulation. I just wonder if there's a connection in any way to what happens when they get out of the service.
Alain Beaudet
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Alain Beaudet
2011-03-02 17:25
It's a very interesting question. It's very possible that there's research funded in that area. I don't know. I could try to find out. But it's an intriguing thing.
I'm going out on a limb here. I think that all these video games may appear violent, but I think that's totally symbolic. I think the true violence has been removed from them. It's not truly violence you're dealing with, I think.
Mr. Peter Stoffer: Okay. Thank you.
View Gary Schellenberger Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you.
I have the last question. You said earlier that there's research that says that the depression rate for people leaving the military is twice what it is in the general population. Could you send us that research?
View Gary Schellenberger Profile
CPC (ON)
I call the meeting to order.
Welcome, everyone, to meeting number 40 of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs. Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), we are conducting a study of combat stress and its consequences on the mental health of veterans and their families.
Today from Canberra, Australia, on video conference, we have Lieutenant-Colonel Andrew Cohn, assistant director, mental health education and training. Am I correct?
Sir, I am Gary Schellenberger, and I'm the chair of the standing committee. Welcome.
If you'd like to make your presentation, we are joined with the rest of the committee. We'd like to hear your presentation, and if you can accept some questions after that, that'd be great.
Andrew Cohn
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Andrew Cohn
2011-02-28 15:39
Good morning, everyone.
I give apologies from our director, Colonel Hodson, who wasn't able to make it this morning. Lieutenant-Colonel Nicole Gray was going to be here this morning as well; she's become unwell, so she gives her apologies. Colonel Gray has passed on to me a few notes to pass on to you this morning.
I'll speak for a few minutes and then I'll be very happy to take any questions that you might have.
I'll start off by talking about the resilience training that we are undertaking for our ADF members--our Australian Defence Force members--and veterans. The BattleSMART program has been around for a few years now. The SMART in BattleSMART stands for “self-management and resilience training”. It's our preventive approach that we've developed for mental health problems. It's based on cognitive behavioural principles, and it aims to build individual and team psychological resilience by enhancing coping flexibility.
I'm not sure how much you know about the BattleSMART program, but I'll be very happy to take any questions that you might have. I've been involved in the development of BattleSMART since the very start, and it's evolved a long way since the very early stages. We deliver this BattleSMART program to all of our defence force recruits during their ab initio recruit training, so it's army, air force, and navy recruits who receive this psychological resilience training.
We've also developed a version for members before they deploy overseas on operations, and we're developing a version for them before they return to Australia at the end of deployment. That post-deployment version of BattleSMART is going to be integrated into a third-country decompression trial that we are going to be doing later this year. We have been asked by our government to do a trial of third-location decompression.
I'll answer questions that you might have about what we're going to be doing there. It's not in my field of expertise, but I can certainly flag any questions that you have that I don't know about and get back to you about more details on what we are doing with our third-location decompression trial.
The BattleSMART program is developing very well. As I said, we introduced it last year for the first time for members deploying to Afghanistan as part of the Mentoring Task Force 1. We're going to be delivering it to the soldiers who are deploying this year. As well, we're going to be taking over from the mentoring task force in Afghanistan.
We're also developing a version of BattleSMART for members who transition out of defence to the civilian community, and we're developing a version for family members as well. The version for those who are transitioning out of defence is called LifeSMART. It's self-management and resilience training for people leaving defence and dealing with the uniquely stressful events that they're going to have to deal with once they leave the defence force.
Does anyone have any questions about the resilience training we're doing?
Andrew Cohn
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Andrew Cohn
2011-02-28 15:43
Okay.
I've talked about resilience training. I was also asked to pass on some information about tracking veterans. I've got Colonel Gray's notes here. We acknowledge that tracking veterans is a significant problem for our defence force as well.
Just last weekend, there was an article in a few of our national newspapers about veterans returning with mental health problems. We've had a number of suicides in our defence force since the start of this year. We're up to three suicides this year; normally, our suicide rate in the ADF is around six to seven a year. This year, as I said, we're up to three, and they're all in the army, from different parts of Australia. There's no pattern of where they're from in Australia. They are geographically dispersed.
Tracking veterans is an issue for us. Our Department of Veterans' Affairs only tracks those veterans with compensation claims. Tracking those who have recognized injuries and have put in a compensation claim to veterans' affairs is the only way we can really track what's happening with our veteran community. The others are much more difficult. If they don't put in a claim for a mental health condition or a health condition, then they are much more difficult to track.
Our Department of Veterans' Affairs is currently trialing a use of social networking technology. They have a website that our veterans can log on to in order to keep track with the ADF veteran community. I'll give you the website: it's www.touchbase.gov.au. That's a social networking site for veterans to keep in touch with the ADF community. That website includes some self-care information for veterans and also has some self-screening options so that veterans can go on and do some self-screening to see how they might be tracking with their mental health.
I think that's all I really needed to talk about formally in my presentation. I'm happy to take any questions now that you might have.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
Thank you.
Thank you very much for taking the time to make a presentation from Australia. It's the first time for me to do a video conference, as opposed to looking at the person face to face.
You've indicated there are four avenues through which someone would receive different modifications of the BattleSMART program. Every member of the Australian force, upon entry in a boot camp scenario, would receive it. Then if you have a mission, you would have both a pre-mission and post-mission BattleSMART program, and then someone getting out of the forces would receive another form of the BattleSMART program. Is that a fair assessment? Are there four?
Andrew Cohn
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Andrew Cohn
2011-02-28 15:47
Absolutely, yes. We started off with army recruits receiving the BattleSMART program back in July of 2006. Back then it wasn't actually called BattleSMART; that name was only coined in July of 2009. That was when the program became known as BattleSMART.
In July of 2006, it was introduced as a psychological resilience or coping skills program for army recruits. We kept statistics from the time it was introduced in July 2009, and in the 12 months after it was introduced we noticed a 50% reduction in the number of recruits who were referred for psychological problems and a 50% reduction in the number of recruits who were discharged for psychological problems. Also, the recruits who received the coping skills program were anecdotally much happier. They seemed, to the psychology staff and the training staff, to be a bit more savvy about psychological adjustment and coping and that sort of thing.
The program continued in the army for the army recruits, and then the air force and the navy picked up on it in about 2008, and it's been going there ever since. It has been modified as we go and as we learn things, and we have meetings with our scientific advisory committee twice a year. We have a number of Australian experts in the field of stress and coping who meet with us twice a year. We talk about modifications that we might need to make to the BattleSMART program, but as I say, it is being introduced pre-deployment and a version is being developed for post-deployment, and of course, as you say, we've got a version for those who are transitioning out of defence.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
I love what you're doing with respect to the prevention of potential symptoms by developing these programs.
In terms of the vets who are already back into civilian life, to what degree do they have access? To what degree have you developed the program to be able to assist those who have already left the forces?
Andrew Cohn
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Andrew Cohn
2011-02-28 15:50
To date, we haven't actually started making forays into the veteran community. At the moment the program is only being delivered for those members who are currently in the ADF, so the only version of the program that is given to our members who are in the process of leaving is the LifeSMART program that I told you about. So far, we haven't actually engaged with our veterans' affairs department to get a version developed for ex-serving members. That's probably our next step.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
That was going to be my next question. Do you anticipate having that put into place, and if so, do you have some timeframe for something of that nature?
Andrew Cohn
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Andrew Cohn
2011-02-28 15:51
No, there's no timeframe at this stage, because our priority has been developing the programs for our serving members. We recognize that it's something we need to do. That is the next step, because we need to be working much more closely with our veterans' affairs department, making sure that what they are delivering to veterans is consistent with what we are teaching our currently serving members. We do acknowledge that it's a priority for us.
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