To the Editor:
At the same time that DND has admitted that the numbers of suicide incidents in the Canadian Forces have risen, how is it possible that the department is eliminating the jobs of medical professionals involved in suicide prevention and monitoring of post-traumatic stress disorders? They are actually reducing the number of epidemiologists and researchers who analyze mental health issues.
This government has previously asserted that dealing with such health issues is a priority. How can the government announce on the one hand that it appreciates the sacrifices made by our veterans and then turn around and cut the services and research efforts needed to treat those same men and women, at a time when they need it most?
The Legion is extremely concerned with this move, especially with the increase of suicide incidents in the Canadian Forces. The full extent of the cases of mental illness, arising from the heavy operational tempo in the Balkans and Afghanistan, has not likely been felt yet.
The government and Canadians have sent these men and women to deploy and serve in these missions abroad and therefore have a moral obligation to ensure they are properly cared for once they return. The announced cuts give the government a failing grade. Without operational research in this area, Canada will be forced to resort to reactive treatment while abandoning the proactive education and prevention of mental illness to our troops.
It is unacceptable that these cuts are made on the backs of our most vulnerable. There is no better way to demonstrate their commitment to support those who serve their country than by not making these cuts.
Patricia (Pat) Varga, Dominion President of The Royal Canadian Legion.