Retired Canadian peacekeeper calls feds suicide prevention strategy 'smoke and mirrors'

By Vanessa Ybarra
October 7, 2017 - 3:32pm Updated: October 8, 2017 - 8:37am

LOGAN LAKE, B.C. — It's hoped to reduce the number of suicides among those who have served in uniform.

Earlier this week the feds released a joint-suicide prevention strategy between National Defence and Veterans Affairs Canada that focuses on strategies to ease the transition to civilian life from a military career.

Logan Lake resident Scott Casey who was a peacekeeper in the Balkans in the early 90s and president of the organization Military Minds that helps veterans with PTSD called the strategy 'disingenuous'.

"What they've done is basically re-rolled out something that's already been in place for years," said Casey. "The Joint Personel Support Unit (JPSU) actually had a suicide strategy within its ranks and it was never employed properly and has pretty much been a failure in every regard."

Part of the feds joint-strategy includes talking to soldiers earlier in their careers about post-military life and staying in contact after they have retired.

It also promises to increase the amount of support for the families of veterans and ensure military personnel have support services lined up before they retire.

"It's pretty empty," said Casey. "There's no stats or information to show the bones of what they're going to do. They're just paying lip service to the idea of what's supposed to happen."

Casey says soldiers need to receive mental health training before going into combat if there's any hope of cutting down on military suicides and PTSD.

"We learn in the military how to tie our shoes and polish our boots and all the tactical stuff, but nowhere in there do they deal with mental health. There might be a small piece now but it should be expanded on considerably so guy's have an idea of what they could be seeing in the future."

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