Friday, November 4, 2016

Canada: Suicide Toll Reveals How System Failed Soldiers and Veterans

Suicide toll reveals how system failed Canada's soldiers and veterans
Published Friday, Nov. 04, 2016
Since then, The Globe’s continuing investigation uncovered the suicide count has climbed to at least 70. There is no word yet of any government or military plans to remember these fallen.
Canadian army soldiers board a CH-47 Chinook helicopter as they leave forward fire base Zangabad in Panjwai district in Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan, June 18, 2011. (Baz Ratner/Reuters)
This article is part of The Unremembered, a Globe and Mail investigation into soldiers and veterans who died by suicide after deployment during the Afghanistan mission.

They were sons of bankers, miners and infanteers. They were strongmen and endurance runners. They were husbands and fathers who took their children camping and taught them how to play shinny on backyard rinks.

All 31 were dedicated Canadian soldiers and airmen who served on the perilous Afghanistan mission. They all came home. All ended their lives.

Most were haunted by the things they saw and did in Afghanistan, their families told The Globe and Mail. Many asked the military for help, but in several cases, their medical assessments and treatment were delayed, even as their post-traumatic stress, depression and sleeplessness worsened.

The families of the 31 fallen spoke to The Globe as part of a collaborative effort to commemorate military members and veterans lost to suicide after serving on the Afghanistan mission, Canada’s longest military operation. Many are speaking publicly about their loss for the first time. And for many of the military members, this is the first public recognition of their sacrifice.

Together, their stories paint a disturbing picture of delayed care, ineffective medical treatment and insufficient mental-health support. The 31 accounts are the most comprehensive public record of Canada’s Afghanistan war veterans lost to suicide – unwitting monuments to a system that is failing too many vulnerable soldiers and veterans.
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