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View Peter Stoffer Profile
NDP (NS)
Well, Dr. Westwood, I would just make a slight recommendation to you that you consider making an application to DVA just to see what their response would be in 2011. I can't answer for the government or the minister, but hopefully you might get a different response. one that would assist you in what you do.
Here in our papers it says that since 1997 approximately 200 soldiers and veterans have come looking to you for assistance. Yet we know there are thousands more out there who need help, there's no question about it, and for a variety of reasons they're not getting that help. So my other question for you is this: do you assist any RCMP veterans at all?
View Peter Stoffer Profile
NDP (NS)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Sir, thank you very much for coming today.
Do you also have allocations of research for members of the RCMP who have retired?
View Gary Schellenberger Profile
CPC (ON)
I call the meeting to order.
I welcome everyone here today. This is the 33rd meeting of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs. Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), we are studying combat stress and its consequences on the mental health of veterans and their families.
I welcome our witnesses. From the Royal Canadian Legion we have Brad White, dominion secretary, and Andrea Siew, service officer. From the Royal Canadian Mounted Police we have Murray Brown, staff relations representative, occupational health and safety.
Mr. White, you're first on the docket. I will ask you to make your presentation, followed by Mr. Brown. Then we can ask questions around the table.
View Lise Zarac Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Chair.
Mr. Brown, when you started you said we were changing colour. I think we did more than that. We went into a different world completely, from the Legion, which seems to know the problem and has statistics, to an organization that does not know exactly where it stands. You brought us to a completely different world.
Mr. White, you mentioned you had made a gender-based analysis because there are different problems. Do you have the statistics on that?
View Lise Zarac Profile
Lib. (QC)
I'm happy that you're talking about it. You also mentioned perception, and I think that if we can identify how the different genders react to stress, we can maybe pinpoint exactly the treatments that need to be given to people.
View Lise Zarac Profile
Lib. (QC)
If you had to make a budget, would you allocate more funds to research or to a data collection system?
View Lise Zarac Profile
Lib. (QC)
One of the big problems seems to be the disconnect between everybody. I like your recommendation, Mr. Brown, on having the RCMP in VAC. I would add the Legion and everybody concerned with veterans. They should all be put together with the government to find out what needs to be done. I think there's a disconnect, and that's what we're hearing. When a soldier leaves the forces, we lose him and he doesn't get the care. If he comes and asks for care, he's sent to a regular doctor, a family doctor.
View Lise Zarac Profile
Lib. (QC)
You mentioned isolation, and you mentioned how the Legion helped in the Second World War. It was like self-medication.
What can we do to bring these people back to the Legion? Did you consider what the Legion can do?
View Guy André Profile
BQ (QC)
Good afternoon, Mr. White and Mr. Brown.
People with PTSD are most definitely faced with a lack of resources and services. I feel that we first have to address the screening issue. We're talking about resources and time that the RCMP and the Canadian Forces should invest in screening people with post-traumatic stress or related problems and in actually providing services. If it turns out that those people don't have any problems, a follow-up should always be done on individuals who have experienced traumatic situations that could later lead to post-traumatic stress.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I get the impression that, if the Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes that a person has PTSD, it questions the whole thing and it raises doubts because there is a cost associated with it. When these people talk to mental health workers and officials, they must fight to prove that they actually have this particular problem. So not only do they have to break a taboo, but they also have to fight against the system within which the problem is not recognized because of the future costs.
I am going to tell you about a situation I'm familiar with and draw a parallel to our discussion. When someone with a mental health problem goes to see a psychologist or a worker at a CLSC, they are seen within 48 hours, in most cases, and they at least get an answer. It goes without saying that this is not the case with Veterans Affairs Canada or with the RCMP. But the difference is that it is not up to the organizations providing the services to establish whether these people are entitled to a disability benefit.
On a number of occasions in this committee, individuals told us how mental health problems and PTSD led them towards suicide. Some people say there is no link. I personally believe there is a link. These people never got any services. There are grey areas. Could you talk about those grey areas and could you comment on what I just said?
View Peter Stoffer Profile
NDP (NS)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thanks to all three of you for being with us today.
One thing that Murray didn't tell us is that he'll be retiring at the end of this year. Murray, on behalf of all of us, thank you for your great service to everyone you've helped throughout the country and also for my education with the RCMP. That was really informative. When this magazine first came up, you showed us the story of Paul Smith. It was really disturbing.
You're right, Brad. We missed more than one. We've missed a few out there.
I remember very well the Legion I used to go to, which was Branch 5 in Richmond, B.C. Every Friday and Saturday they had the meat draws. The World War I and the World War II guys would let it out right there, and they'd be good for a week until they came back and got their fill of camaraderie once again. The Legion played an incredible role in mitigating an awful lot of pain and suffering. Even though you may not have done it on an organizational basis, you gave them comfort by having facilities across the country where they could go and feel safe.
My colleague Ms. Duncan does this once in a while, so I'd like to try it as well. If you could do three things right now that would improve the lives of the people you represent, what would they be?
Murray, you mentioned transition care. I find it rather disturbing that it's not already there. I'm sure it's something this committee will seriously look at in that regard, but if each of you could have three things right now that this committee could recommend in our report, what would they be?
View Peter Stoffer Profile
NDP (NS)
In conclusion, I want to thank you for the fact that you've shared this with your other veterans organizations across the country. Brad, we've said this privately before, but the cooperation and the integration of discussion with other veterans groups--and maybe the RCMP as well--to better enhance the dialogue would only improve the situation for everyone. Thanks to the Legion for doing that.
View Greg Kerr Profile
CPC (NS)
View Greg Kerr Profile
2010-12-02 16:31
Thank you for being here. It's good to see you.
I'm going to concentrate more on Murray's stuff because I'd like to go in a couple of directions. I want to thank Brad and Andrea. I want to point out that dialogue is great and I think what we're saying as we face these problems is that we know progress is being made. We've heard that from so many sources. We have a long trip to go, but it's true in many cases.
One is that the awareness is out there now. There are more conversations and discussions about stigma. All those types of things are far more public than they were five or 10 years ago. I get the sense that the cooperation you're talking about is critical. I think we have to go down that path. I think we're recognizing some movement. I think you agree in general that at least that we're collectively making some progress.
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