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Former Canadian Soldier Wants to be a Reservist despite PTSD

Strike

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My view - He has a pre-existing condition that has the potential to re-emerge given the right circumstances.  What if someone with Type 2 diabetes, who required no medication because they could control it through diet and exercise, wanted to apply?  We would say the same thing.  This pre-existing condition precludes you from serving.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/former-canadian-soldier-wants-to-be-a-reservist-despite-ptsd/article34661133/

Former Canadian soldier wants to be a reservist despite PTSD 

Gloria Galloway
OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Apr. 10, 2017 8:26PM EDT
Last updated Monday, Apr. 10, 2017 8:26PM EDT

Joshua Dorais developed post-traumatic stress disorder while serving as a Canadian soldier in Croatia in the early 1990s but he says that should not disqualify him from re-enlisting as a reservist.

Mr. Dorais, 43, has filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission alleging that the Canadian Armed Forces is discriminating against him on the basis of a disability by refusing to allow him to return to the reserves.

The military says his PTSD prevents him from being deployed anywhere at any time – the universality of service rule that sees many permanently disabled soldiers handed their discharge papers. But Mr. Dorais says that is not true, that he has the condition under control and that his PTSD would not impede his performance as a nursing officer.

It’s a contentious issue, not just for the military and for people who want to enlist, but also for active soldiers who are suffering from a mental-health condition but refuse to step forward for fear that it will mean the end of their careers.

“The record needs to be set straight for serving and former members who have gone through this process, because I think we’re all being punished for no supported reason,” Mr. Dorais said in a recent telephone interview. “I think my situation really demonstrated the blatant discrimination.”

Mr. Dorais joined the reserves in 1993 and, a year later, was sent to the former Yugoslavia as a medic with the United Nations Protection Force. The images of two fellow soldiers who were killed on that tour still play through his mind and he returned a changed man at the age of 21, behaving in ways that caused him to lose important relationships.

A few years later, when he was part of the regular Forces, a psychologist and a psychiatrist said they believed he had PTSD.

It was a diagnosis Mr. Dorais did not accept until after he had left the military and, in 2003, tried to take his own life with an overdose of drugs. That pushed him into treatment and, with the help of medication, he says he has learned how to control the symptoms of the disorder and lead a productive and stable life.

“I am a better person today, I think, than I’ve ever been. That came with reaching out,” said Mr. Dorais, who worked for nearly 10 years as a nurse in a correctional institution.

Now, he would like to return to the reserves and help guide the next generation of soldiers. But, although he sailed through his interview with the Canadian Forces, and passed both an aptitude test and a physical-fitness test, his medical condition proved to be a stumbling block.

“As soon as I got into that office, the sergeant who was doing the exam said, ‘I am just going to be honest with you. I can’t support your enrolment. The Forces are kicking members with PTSD out. Why would they let people with PTSD in?’” Mr. Dorais said.

A few weeks later, he received a form letter from a recruitment medical evaluator confirming that he was being rejected as a result of the rules around universality of service. Because of his medical history, Mr. Dorais was told that he remains “at increased risk for a recurrence of symptoms, especially if again subject to the stress of a military environment.”

So, last week, Mr. Dorais appealed to the Human Rights Commission, saying that the Forces can no more predict the behaviour risk associated with his mental-health history than it can predict that a soldier will be maimed or mortally wounded during military service.

A Canadian Armed Forces spokeswoman said in an e-mail Monday that the military is aware of the complaint filed by Mr. Dorais and that it is being “dealt with appropriately” but that she could offer no additional comment due to privacy and confidentiality issues.

It is unknown how long it will take the Human Rights Commission to respond to Mr. Dorais’s allegations. An intake officer will determine whether the complaint meets some basic requirements. If it does, it will be handed to an inspector and then possibly given to the commissioners for resolution.

“I can perform and I do perform in my activities of daily life and I have already proven to the military that I have actually performed in those roles,” Mr. Dorais said.

“The universality of service says you must be fit to fight at any time and any place. Well, I am saying to them, ‘Tell me where I can’t perform in that capacity.’”
 

PuckChaser

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Completely agree. I appreciate his service, and his wounds received because of it, but that ship has sailed in his life. We reject people every day because of per-existing conditions, and IMHO we should be doing a more thorough mental health screening at enrollment.
 

Altair

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Would this make people who have PTSD less likely to get it diagnosed for fear that they could never join/rejoin the forces?
 

SupersonicMax

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On the other side, there are many positions within the CAF that will never deploy.  Perhaps it would be wise to post medically unfit personnel in those positions and let medically fit people work the line units.
 

RedcapCrusader

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Altair said:
Would this make people who have PTSD less likely to get it diagnosed for fear that they could never join/rejoin the forces?

Eventually someone is going to catch on and a lot worse will happen because it has gone undiagnosed/untreated.
 

dapaterson

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SupersonicMax said:
On the other side, there are many positions within the CAF that will never deploy.  Perhaps it would be wise to post medically unfit personnel in those positions and let medically fit people work the line units.

Except then you're burning out the deployable people.
 

PuckChaser

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SupersonicMax said:
On the other side, there are many positions within the CAF that will never deploy.  Perhaps it would be wise to post medically unfit personnel in those positions and let medically fit people work the line units.
If you've got a list then we can use it to start making those people civilians and putting the PYs into line units. If you cannot/will not deploy, you shouldn't be in uniform, unless we're leveraging that individuals previous CAF experience to help train others for a time until a comfortable transition to civilian life.

You also have to be careful with tying an individual as not deployable simply because they're in a non-line unit but fully capable and willing to go.

Sent from my SM-G935W8 using Tapatalk

 

George Wallace

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Altair said:
Would this make people who have PTSD less likely to get it diagnosed for fear that they could never join/rejoin the forces?

It is already is a concern.  It is not only affecting pers in the CF, but when they leave the CF as well.  I know of at least one case where a former CF member is fighting for their job as a Commissionaire, as it has been affected by his diagnosis of PTSD.  People are already covering up the fact that they may be suffering due to cases like these.
 

George Wallace

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SupersonicMax said:
On the other side, there are many positions within the CAF that will never deploy.  Perhaps it would be wise to post medically unfit personnel in those positions and let medically fit people work the line units.

So?  Should we bring back a "Home Guard" organization, as was found in Great Britain and Canada in the Second World War; made up of former soldiers ineligible for military service and secondary to the Regular Force?
 

Cloud Cover

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I don't know about a Home Guard, what with soldiers, with guns, on the street traumatizing our recent arrivals and the meek yet politically powerful....

How about a deployable Peace Corps funded by GA?  With a strong emphasis on construction, engineering, telecoms, infrastructure, health care.... A way to contribute and serve wearing the flag without the higher military standards for enrolment.
 

Edward Campbell

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Cloud Cover said:
I don't know about a Home Guard, what with soldiers, with guns, on the street traumatizing our recent arrivals and the meek yet politically powerful....

How about a deployable Peace Corps funded by GA?  With a strong emphasis on construction, engineering, telecoms, infrastructure, health care.... A way to contribute and serve wearing the flag without the higher military standards for enrolment.


That is a good idea that I know, for a fact, was raised, by some pretty well connected Canadian business execs, in the 1990s ... and ignored by successive governments.

The notion was the "peacemakers" should be followed by baby-blue beret type "peacekeepers" and para-military "nation builders/ peace builders," followed, later, by (Canadian) government and corporate interests who would invest and build institutions and infrastructure in the host nation.
 
 

Eland2

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George Wallace said:
So?  Should we bring back a "Home Guard" organization, as was found in Great Britain and Canada in the Second World War; made up of former soldiers ineligible for military service and secondary to the Regular Force?

Interesting idea. But it raises a whole bunch of questions: how and where will we employ Home Guard/Territorial Army members? How will we stand up and fund such an organization, given that the Liberals have decided to defer $8.5 billion in badly needed military spending for the next 20 years, and cuts are likely on the way for some of the more peripheral parts of the military? Is there a need for such an organization? Even with the Russian bear seemingly grunting and groaning, not even Sweden maintain much of a Home Guard these days.

In wartime, with full-scale mobilization and every fit person the military can get their hands on (including those in the Primary Reserve and on the supplemental list)  being deployed overseas or elsewhere, a home guard might be useful as a backstop to manage support and other in-garrison taskings that can't be managed by regular units because they're deployed.

My maternal grandfather and a great uncle on my father's side were involved in the 'home guard' organization that existed during the Second World War. Neither relative was deployed to the front lines. My grandfather was deployed to a searchlight station on Cape Breton Island and his job was to detect enemy ships and submarines attempting to enter Canadian waters.

What my great uncle did, I've no idea, but relatives have told me that he frequently went to Camp Ipperwash for training-related duties.

I have also heard from other relatives that my grandfather was supposedly a member of the Canadian Corps of Infantry (my reading of which is that it was a generic, catch-all organization that formed the support structure for the home guard system.)
I've never heard of such a unit and haven't been able to get any real information on it.
 

medicineman

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I seem to recall this dude from my tour in '94.  He was a Reserve Medic with us and IIRC, was tasked as the Padres' driver.  We had a messed up tour with a lot of tooling around in minefields, with the resultant casualties that comes from those activities, as well as unwanted baggage (I'm no better off).

My take on things - at risk of getting flamed - is that they've got a chronic condition that can be, and often is, exacerbated by conditions of service, especially on deployment.  From an occupational medicine standpoint, why would/should we risk the possibility of losing someone to a pre-existing condition that can be exacerbated by what they're supposed to  to do for a living AND exposing the organization to potential further liability in forms of sick leave, time lost, having to replace, pensions, outside medical costs, etc, when someone else can be hired that has a lower potential risk?

This is an unfortunate thing I used to see a lot in the Recruiting realm - folks thinking that we owed them a job, physically/mentally fit or not.  There are limited number of positions and the people that are going to get hired should be the ones that are (hopefully) healthy and the right fit for the job.  There always has to be a line drawn in the sand as to what is and isn't permissible, and the Supreme Court has upheld many challenges in this regard.  These lines get revised often, sometimes as the moon phases shift, in keeping with current therapy guidelines and research into disease progression.  Things don't always seem fair when you're on the receiving end, but at the end of the day, it's not personal, it's business.

As much as I thought Josh was a good guy and hope he continues to succeed, fact is, just because someone goes to the press, doesn't always mean they should get a pass...there are always three sides to a story - his side, her side, and the what really happened side.  We're not really hearing the whole thing I think. 

:2c:

MM
 

mariomike

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George Wallace said:
It is not only affecting pers in the CF, but when they leave the CF as well. 

Performance in a high-stress setting is a regular part of certain workplaces former members may have an interest in applying to join.




 

McG

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George Wallace said:
So?  Should we bring back a "Home Guard" organization, as was found in Great Britain and Canada in the Second World War; made up of former soldiers ineligible for military service and secondary to the Regular Force?
Why would we do that?  For the sake of the people who want to join?  So that it can become an answer looking for its question?

If you create such an organization, the resources (money) will have to come from somewhere.  Would anyone here be ready to cut the defence budget so we can field an armed forces for the disabled?

SupersonicMax said:
On the other side, there are many positions within the CAF that will never deploy.  Perhaps it would be wise to post medically unfit personnel in those positions and let medically fit people work the line units.
dapaterson said:
Except then you're burning out the deployable people.
... and ensuring, where such sheltered pers are uniformed decision makers, that they become out of touch with the operational forces they represent but can never serve in.
 

daftandbarmy

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If the guy wants to contribute to a reserve unit I would welcome him with open arms into mine.. as an active member of the association or one of the messes, or even the museum or band.

There is a cr#pton of work that needs to be done to keep these important institutions going in units, and not always enough people to do them.
 

MilEME09

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daftandbarmy said:
If the guy wants to contribute to a reserve unit I would welcome him with open arms into mine.. as an active member of the association or one of the messes, or even the museum or band.

There is a cr#pton of work that needs to be done to keep these important institutions going in units, and not always enough people to do them.

Give him a civilian contract to manage the RQ? plenty of things could be done at the armoury level that don't require the gentlemen to be in uniform, go out to the field and such.
 

Lightguns

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daftandbarmy said:
If the guy wants to contribute to a reserve unit I would welcome him with open arms into mine.. as an active member of the association or one of the messes, or even the museum or band.

There is a cr#pton of work that needs to be done to keep these important institutions going in units, and not always enough people to do them.

What part of unit training do you give up to fund your museum and messes improvement because that would be the decision?
 

Lightguns

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MilEME09 said:
Give him a civilian contract to manage the RQ? plenty of things could be done at the armoury level that don't require the gentlemen to be in uniform, go out to the field and such.

Leaving aside employment suitability, whose budget does that come under?  During my armouries day, some units would shut down in January until April because the money was not there to train.  I doubt it has changed much and I doubt the reserve units and garrisons are flush with cash. 
 

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Lightguns said:
What part of unit training do you give up to fund your museum and messes improvement because that would be the decision?

Museums and messes are NPF not public funds, the $ donated and raised are handled through Regimental Associations.  So no Reserve pay or unit training funds are used.

Example: https://www.theregiment.ca/museum/
 
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