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Military bases struggling with personnel shortages, internal review finds

quadrapiper

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A Tac Pause isn't going to catch up with numbers. The pers being "dumped" on Base aren't on TCats with a broken leg. They're on PCat and chronically undeployable. Now, the CAF doesn't want to medically release people any more because of the bad press, so operational units have no choice but to push them to Base. What's your Recruiting Slogan going to be as well? "Join the CAF and travel the world (once we hit PML, otherwise enjoy sweeping floors and 3 months in Wainwright every year)!" As soon as you call a Tac Pause all those healthy folks are going to pull pin and find civilian employment elsewhere, you'd compound the problem with a higher ratio of fit to unfit and gutter the morale that's left in the CAF.
Would a more vigorous, even less member-needs/wants focused, posting approach for PCat types be worth looking at, to balance the ways in which they're otherwise less useful to the CAF?
No real suggestions here, but my gut feeling is that the push for 'more teeth less tail' generally underestimates how much 'tail' is required to maintain the teeth we want across a geographically massive area, as well as a full suite of complex, modern equipment. Logistics are a lot easier if your entire military in a place the size of PEI, and procurement, maintenance and support is much simpler if you don't have a blue water navy or an air force.
Wonder how many people suggesting tail trimming are thinking of the oft-mentioned ever-growing HQ issue, versus non-"teeth" elements with actual, identifiable relevance to whatever the teeth are getting up to?
 

PuckChaser

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Would a more vigorous, even less member-needs/wants focused, posting approach for PCat types be worth looking at, to balance the ways in which they're otherwise less useful to the CAF?

Considering members on PCat with severe mental health issues are being refused postings closer to family, I doubt the CAF will ever do that. I had a good friend suffering so much that that he wasn't able to even go to work, but he wasn't allowed to be posted back to his home (he was on IR), so he had to sit in an empty apartment away from his wife in between medical appointments...
 

MilEME09

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Considering members on PCat with severe mental health issues are being refused postings closer to family, I doubt the CAF will ever do that. I had a good friend suffering so much that that he wasn't able to even go to work, but he wasn't allowed to be posted back to his home (he was on IR), so he had to sit in an empty apartment away from his wife in between medical appointments...
Sounds about right, I know a former Comms researcher who was bounced around like a hot potato between postings, tasks, courses and tours to the point he told his career manager that the only way he would do PLQ was if he got a stable posting afterwords that kept him home or he likely would loose his marriage. Fast forward a year and he was out, can easily piece together what happened. I understand some trades are short staffed but we also need to be realistic with what we can accomplish with what we have.
 

Quirky

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members on PCat with severe mental health issues are being refused postings closer to family,

Are they being refused or is it because there aren’t positions available? There needs to be a balance between postings for medical reasons and filling positions. Another thing to consider is the precedent that’s set when someone is given what they want because of “medical issues” (people do abuse the system).

In the end joining the military means moving around, some trades do it more than others, you’ll never get a posting location or unit that’s going to be 100% suitable. Cold lake, Shilo, Wainwright and even Comox have their issues, you’ll always find someone who hates it. It’s like me joining the Army, I hate any sort of field or camping environment, so why would it be the CAFs problem to cater to my needs? At some point a person needs to take responsibility for their career and life decisions and make it better for themselves. Posted to Cold Lake and have a spouse that can’t find work in their related profession? Those are hard personal choices to make and the CM won’t give you what you want.
 

PuckChaser

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Are they being refused or is it because there aren’t positions available? There needs to be a balance between postings for medical reasons and filling positions. Another thing to consider is the precedent that’s set when someone is given what they want because of “medical issues” (people do abuse the system).

Transition Center to Transition Center, absolutely 0 reason to not post the member back home, especially in the specific case I'm talking about where the member was on IR and it not only made medical sense, but financial sense for the CAF to do it.
 

MilEME09

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Transition Center to Transition Center, absolutely 0 reason to not post the member back home, especially in the specific case I'm talking about where the member was on IR and it not only made medical sense, but financial sense for the CAF to do it.
Agreed, if a medical professional has stated for the members well being they should be posted home for compassionate/medical reasons, it should be done.
 

Furniture

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Are they being refused or is it because there aren’t positions available? There needs to be a balance between postings for medical reasons and filling positions. Another thing to consider is the precedent that’s set when someone is given what they want because of “medical issues” (people do abuse the system).

In the end joining the military means moving around, some trades do it more than others, you’ll never get a posting location or unit that’s going to be 100% suitable. Cold lake, Shilo, Wainwright and even Comox have their issues, you’ll always find someone who hates it. It’s like me joining the Army, I hate any sort of field or camping environment, so why would it be the CAFs problem to cater to my needs? At some point a person needs to take responsibility for their career and life decisions and make it better for themselves. Posted to Cold Lake and have a spouse that can’t find work in their related profession? Those are hard personal choices to make and the CM won’t give you what you want.
Postings are a separate issue, though bad, frequent, or unexpected postings can cause problems that lead to bases being short staffed.

We aren't recruiting enough people to make up for those getting out, so some billets will be left unfilled because there are no pers to fill them. Those billets are generally the "base" billets in support roles. On top of that, at least on the RCN side, pers get posted to base billets because they are medically unfit to work on ship. Those pers are usually unfit for normal work routines, so the healthy pers posted to the base end up working more/harder to compensate for those medically unfit, and for the empty billets. This often leads to people getting burnt out, and becoming medically unfit themselves, or in extreme cases leaving the CAF.

The CA and RCAF have similar problems with "downtime" positions being filled by medically unfit pers, and the healthy making up for it. If we were at 100% staffing it would be less of an issue, but when some trades are in the 80-90% staffing level before MELs are accounted for, it is an issue.

The CAF is not in the position to be driving good members away with bad personnel management, yet due to policy and custom we are doing just that many times. The example of a member's spouse not finding work at their new location, likely means the member will be looking at getting out or going IR if their spouse's work is a career. The CAF is still working on the idea that members have careers, and spouses might have a part time job. That is often not the case anymore, and we need better solutions to deal with the needs of those members, while not screwing over single members(which is often the current solution).
 

Jarnhamar

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In the end joining the military means moving around, some trades do it more than others, you’ll never get a posting location or unit that’s going to be 100% suitable. Cold lake, Shilo, Wainwright and even Comox have their issues, you’ll always find someone who hates it. It’s like me joining the Army, I hate any sort of field or camping environment, so why would it be the CAFs problem to cater to my needs? At some point a person needs to take responsibility for their career and life decisions and make it better for themselves. Posted to Cold Lake and have a spouse that can’t find work in their related profession? Those are hard personal choices to make and the CM won’t give you what you want.

Great post.

The Canadian Forces area on reddit makes for some pretty interesting observations.

I've been lurking there for a while just reading posts and I'm continuously surprised at how many new members appear to:
-have joined the CAF with pre-existing mental health issues
-self diagnosis mental health issues; and
-think it's ****ing bullshit that the CAF would have the audacity to post them, especially if they don't want to which they feel is harassment/trying to murder them.

Not everyone is like that and their regular members often call them out for it, but it's still surprising (to me) at how many have joined the CAF with those issues/views.

The MH is another interesting one.
Stuff like
"I had severe anxiety and depression as a teen and I joined the CAF and have been in for a year now and they want me to goto the field but that will negatively impact my mental health, what do I do?"

Are our recruiters not managing people's expectations?

"Hurts my mental health" seems to have became a mantra.
 

MilEME09

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Great post.

The Canadian Forces area on reddit makes for some pretty interesting observations.

I've been lurking there for a while just reading posts and I'm continuously surprised at how many new members appear to:
-have joined the CAF with pre-existing mental health issues
-self diagnosis mental health issues; and
-think it's ****ing bullshit that the CAF would have the audacity to post them, especially if they don't want to which they feel is harassment/trying to murder them.

Not everyone is like that and their regular members often call them out for it, but it's still surprising (to me) at how many have joined the CAF with those issues/views.

The MH is another interesting one.
Stuff like
"I had severe anxiety and depression as a teen and I joined the CAF and have been in for a year now and they want me to goto the field but that will negatively impact my mental health, what do I do?"

Are our recruiters not managing people's expectations?

"Hurts my mental health" seems to have became a mantra.
My question to that is what kind of mental health screening is CFRG doing?
 

Humphrey Bogart

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Transition Center to Transition Center, absolutely 0 reason to not post the member back home, especially in the specific case I'm talking about where the member was on IR and it not only made medical sense, but financial sense for the CAF to do it.
This is a great post and I don't know why the CAF doesn't exercise this option. I have never seen it exercised and I think it comes down to not wanting to pay.

IMO one of the big issues is our lack of recourse should members no longer be able to serve. They will go through a long and drawn our Administrative Review process and then release the member.

Any services the member requires then becomes the purview of VAC. It's a messy system and doesn't really set the member up for success.

The big issue is that we promise everyone a lifelong career in the CAF when the reality is many shouldn't serve a full career for various reasons. We do an absolutely terrible job transitioning these members to civilian life though. We've also made it more difficult financially for these individuals to leave, e.g. getting rid of severance pay, increasing time required to collect an immediate annuity, etc.

We've also made decisions like deliberately choosing not to certify members with trades training by providing them with red seals, etc in a flawed attempt to increase retention by preventing them from seeking outside employment.

This last point is particularly stupid and provides poor value for money to our tax payer. Especially when you consider that we have a chronic shortage of qualified tradesmen in this Country and many of our soldiers, sailors and aviators who may not be able to serve anymore would be valued employees elsewhere.

I think they should bring back severance pay. This would provide another cushion for members that need to be released from the service. It would certainly be cheaper than holding them in a position they can't be employed in for years on end.

My question to that is what kind of mental health screening is CFRG doing?
The CAF is no longer allowed to deliberately screen for mental health issues as it's a violation of the applicant's human rights.

They are not members of the CAF yet; therefore, the CAF has no right to know their medical issues.

Any information they do provide is on a voluntary basis. We give a basic medical but that doesn't tell a whole lot. We don't even screen people for fitness anymore.

What kind of fighting force doesn't screen applicants for actual fitness?
 

FJAG

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What kind of fighting force doesn't screen applicants for actual fitness?

The same one that has hardly any tanks, artillery or air defence etc. I.e one that doesn't take "fighting" as one of its primary missions.

Seriously though on the terms of service issue, I've always been opposed to the concept of indefinite service and voluntary releases on six months notice (or immediate for reservists). I much prefer a system of short terms of service that must be served out in full combined with re-enlistment bonuses/incentives and education and severance benefits for those who complete their terms satisfactorily. It provides more certainty of force strength from year to year, aids in deciding on annual recruitment requirements, allows the individual better second career planning and provides an easier mechanism for releasing unsatisfactory personnel who no longer meet bona fide occupational requirements. I'm all in favour of that for reservists as well with specified annual mandatory training requirements (of a duration and at times which balance family and civilian employer obligations/responsibilities)

🍻
 
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Humphrey Bogart

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The same one that has hardly any tanks, artillery or air defence etc. I.e one that doesn't take fighting as one of its primary tasks..

Seriously though on the terms of service issue, I've always been opposed to the concept of indefinite service and voluntary releases on six months notice (or immediate for reservists). I much prefer a system of short terms of service that must be served out in full combined with re-enlistment bonuses/incentives and education and severance benefits for those who complete their terms satisfactorily. It provides more certainty of force strength from year to year, aids in deciding on annual recruitment requirements, allows the individual better second career planning and provides an easier mechanism for releasing unsatisfactory personnel who no longer meet bona fide occupational requirements. I'm all in favour of that for reservists as well with specified annual mandatory training requirements (of a duration and at times which balance family and civilian employer obligations/responsibilities)

🍻
I completely agree. I think IE 25 is possibly the stupidest thing the Military could issue for a contract.

Who in there right mind knows how able bodied or capable someone will be in 25 years?

I won't sign an IE 25, I'm on an 8 year CE atm with 5 1/2 years left. It provides better options for me and gives me a clear exit path should I opt to leave.

I can't imagine in a decade I'll be very able bodied relative to now so I don't know why the CAF would want to keep me for another 25 years?
 

PuckChaser

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This is a great post and I don't know why the CAF doesn't exercise this option. I have never seen it exercised and I think it comes down to not wanting to pay.

IMO one of the big issues is our lack of recourse should members no longer be able to serve. They will go through a long and drawn our Administrative Review process and then release the member.

Any services the member requires then becomes the purview of VAC. It's a messy system and doesn't really set the member up for success.

The big issue is that we promise everyone a lifelong career in the CAF when the reality is many shouldn't serve a full career for various reasons. We do an absolutely terrible job transitioning these members to civilian life though. We've also made it more difficult financially for these individuals to leave, e.g. getting rid of severance pay, increasing time required to collect an immediate annuity, etc.

This last point is particularly stupid and provides poor value for money to our tax payer. Especially when you consider that we have a chronic shortage of qualified tradesmen in this Country and many of our soldiers, sailors and aviators who may not be able to serve anymore would be valued employees elsewhere.

I think you hit the nail on the head here and I'll circle back to the original topic. The reason Base units are stuck with chronically undeployable/PCat/TCat pers, is because the CAF will not release someone who is obviously medically unfit and will not return to medical fitness. The reason the CAF is forced to do that, is because of the absolute dog's breakfast in getting VAC to support a releasing member and members have been released medically before without any benefits starting on Day 1 of their first civilian day. It's criminal how poorly VAC does its job.

So we're stuck in a Catch 22. CAF member injured and no longer able to work in a military environment, but we can't release them to open up a PY for a fighting fit soldier/sailor/airperson because we rightfully owe it to the member to keep them financially/medically/emotionally stable until they can transition out.

I completely agree. I think IE 25 is possibly the stupidest thing the Military could issue for a contract.

Who in there right mind knows how able bodied or capable someone will be in 25 years?

I can't imagine in a decade I'll be very able bodied relative to now so I don't know why the CAF would want to keep me for another 25 years?
This is a great point. We hear all the time (especially true in the broken pilot training stream) about how we need to retain everyone. Our whole training system is designed to fill an entire 3 year BE just to get someone to OFP because we incorrectly assume everyone wants/is able/is capable of serving 25+ years. This would require a complete rework to our contracts system, and seeing how change adverse the CAF is, I don't think it'll ever happen.
 

MilEME09

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This is a great post and I don't know why the CAF doesn't exercise this option. I have never seen it exercised and I think it comes down to not wanting to pay.

IMO one of the big issues is our lack of recourse should members no longer be able to serve. They will go through a long and drawn our Administrative Review process and then release the member.

Any services the member requires then becomes the purview of VAC. It's a messy system and doesn't really set the member up for success.

The big issue is that we promise everyone a lifelong career in the CAF when the reality is many shouldn't serve a full career for various reasons. We do an absolutely terrible job transitioning these members to civilian life though. We've also made it more difficult financially for these individuals to leave, e.g. getting rid of severance pay, increasing time required to collect an immediate annuity, etc.

We've also made decisions like deliberately choosing not to certify members with trades training by providing them with red seals, etc in a flawed attempt to increase retention by preventing them from seeking outside employment.

This last point is particularly stupid and provides poor value for money to our tax payer. Especially when you consider that we have a chronic shortage of qualified tradesmen in this Country and many of our soldiers, sailors and aviators who may not be able to serve anymore would be valued employees elsewhere.

I think they should bring back severance pay. This would provide another cushion for members that need to be released from the service. It would certainly be cheaper than holding them in a position they can't be employed in for years on end.


The CAF is no longer allowed to deliberately screen for mental health issues as it's a violation of the applicant's human rights.

They are not members of the CAF yet; therefore, the CAF has no right to know their medical issues.

Any information they do provide is on a voluntary basis. We give a basic medical but that doesn't tell a whole lot. We don't even screen people for fitness anymore.

What kind of fighting force doesn't screen applicants for actual fitness?
So we can do a medical screening including vision, hearing, etc... to make sure you are physically fit to serve but doing a mental health evaluation on a candidate is a human rights violation? That makes zero sense to me and puts people in danger. I saw it first hand on a BMQ Land, I was supporting, candidate was clearly having mental health issues but staff had nothing they could do. When staff are wearing full plates on a C9 range because they are worried about a candidate but can't remove the person from the course, we have a problem.
 

medicineman

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We've also made decisions like deliberately choosing not to certify members with trades training by providing them with red seals, etc in a flawed attempt to increase retention by preventing them from seeking outside employment.

This last point is particularly stupid and provides poor value for money to our tax payer. Especially when you consider that we have a chronic shortage of qualified tradesmen in this Country and many of our soldiers, sailors and aviators who may not be able to serve anymore would be valued employees elsewhere.
There is a certain irony to this - having those qualifications allows the member to moonlight and add to their professional development by seeing things they wouldn't otherwise see. Much like the Maintenance of Clinical Competency Programs for MO's, PA's, Med Techs, RN's, etc in the Medical Branch - you get to see and deal with things beyond youngish, healthyish folks. When you get sent to Ungabungaluktutuk and have to deal with a different population that may not be healthy, you are prepared and not constantly on your rear foot trying to play catch-up.
The CAF is no longer allowed to deliberately screen for mental health issues as it's a violation of the applicant's human rights.

They are not members of the CAF yet; therefore, the CAF has no right to know their medical issues.

When did that change? The SCC long ago upheld the right of the CAF to screen people out based on medical reasons as a bona fide job requirement. One of the issues I will say though about screening out mental health issues is training to obtain a proper medical/psych history is different at a 6A Medical Sgt's level than a PA or MO would have. You learn on psych rotations to ask questions in a certain way, observe and listen to behaviours and speech patterns and to "push buttons" as it were to see if certain responses are elicited. I managed to catch several people with personality disorders that either self-selected out or were screened out, caught some early sczhizophrenics, etc. Enrollment medicals are no different from any other occupational health medical for someone being hired to work in a remote location or with any safety sensitive job (pilot, law enforcement, truck driver, etc) - if you want the job, you voluntarily submit to examination. Incidentally, I've also refused to screen out people based on a preconceived bias by a Recruiter - they wanted me to fail them medically when there wasn't a reason to, and placed things squarely back on their laps to do their jobs based on the applicant's CFAT scores and interview.

MM
 

FJAG

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So we can do a medical screening including vision, hearing, etc... to make sure you are physically fit to serve but doing a mental health evaluation on a candidate is a human rights violation? That makes zero sense to me and puts people in danger. I saw it first hand on a BMQ Land, I was supporting, candidate was clearly having mental health issues but staff had nothing they could do. When staff are wearing full plates on a C9 range because they are worried about a candidate but can't remove the person from the course, we have a problem.
I tend to agree with you. I don't know what legal opinions there might be circulating within DND on this issue, but the Canadian Human Rights Code provides the following:
3 (1) For all purposes of this Act, the prohibited grounds of discrimination are race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, family status, genetic characteristics, disability and conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered.
7 It is a discriminatory practice, directly or indirectly,
  • (a) to refuse to employ or continue to employ any individual, or
  • (b) in the course of employment, to differentiate adversely in relation to an employee,
on a prohibited ground of discrimination.
15 (1) It is not a discriminatory practice if
  • (a) any refusal, exclusion, expulsion, suspension, limitation, specification or preference in relation to any employment is established by an employer to be based on a bona fide occupational requirement;
I see fundamentally no difference between screening a person for a physical characteristic or a mental characteristic as long as the characteristic creates a conflict with a bona fide occupational requirement. Obviously we need to determine which characteristic in either category is a limiting one but that's really no different from what we've been doing before.

🍻
 

Blackadder1916

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The CAF is no longer allowed to deliberately screen for mental health issues as it's a violation of the applicant's human rights.

Medicineman said it better (and responded quicker) and from a more recent clinician POV. This paper from a CFC student (a GDMO) may be of interest about the process, pros/cons, and some suggestions for improvement.

UNDECLARED MENTAL HEALTH DISORDERS AMONG CAF APPLICANTS: CAN APPLICANT MENTAL HEALTH SCREENING BE IMPROVED?
https://www.cfc.forces.gc.ca/259/290/318/305/brockway.pdf
 

Humphrey Bogart

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I think you hit the nail on the head here and I'll circle back to the original topic. The reason Base units are stuck with chronically undeployable/PCat/TCat pers, is because the CAF will not release someone who is obviously medically unfit and will not return to medical fitness. The reason the CAF is forced to do that, is because of the absolute dog's breakfast in getting VAC to support a releasing member and members have been released medically before without any benefits starting on Day 1 of their first civilian day. It's criminal how poorly VAC does its job.

So we're stuck in a Catch 22. CAF member injured and no longer able to work in a military environment, but we can't release them to open up a PY for a fighting fit soldier/sailor/airperson because we rightfully owe it to the member to keep them financially/medically/emotionally stable until they can transition out.


This is a great point. We hear all the time (especially true in the broken pilot training stream) about how we need to retain everyone. Our whole training system is designed to fill an entire 3 year BE just to get someone to OFP because we incorrectly assume everyone wants/is able/is capable of serving 25+ years. This would require a complete rework to our contracts system, and seeing how change adverse the CAF is, I don't think it'll ever happen.
VAC isn't structured to serve the Modern Veteran. It was setup and it's programs were conceptualized to serve a type of Veteran that no longer exists. The entire organization needs to be torn down and restarted from scratch. The amount of horror stories I read everyday on social media and elsewhere about VAC is damning but no longer surprising.

My big takeaway from all of this is that nobody is going to help anyone of us when the chips are down. It's up to us to help ourselves out or help other Veterans out. I don't think any of these existing organizations do really anything particularly worthwhile for us either.

We basically need an entirely new organization with it's own mandate. A club so to speak, like the RCL, but one that actually serves the modern Veteran and doesn't just suck our money away.

I am envisioning a club that operates as a professionally managed investment fund of sorts. The purpose of this fund would be to make money but then use that money to better the lives of its membership. Members would receive dividends, a portion of profits would be reinvested and a portion would be set aside to pay for veterans programs and initiatives. I would much rather pay in to something like this than the mess dues we presently pay.
 

Humphrey Bogart

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There is a certain irony to this - having those qualifications allows the member to moonlight and add to their professional development by seeing things they wouldn't otherwise see. Much like the Maintenance of Clinical Competency Programs for MO's, PA's, Med Techs, RN's, etc in the Medical Branch - you get to see and deal with things beyond youngish, healthyish folks. When you get sent to Ungabungaluktutuk and have to deal with a different population that may not be healthy, you are prepared and not constantly on your rear foot trying to play catch-up.


When did that change? The SCC long ago upheld the right of the CAF to screen people out based on medical reasons as a bona fide job requirement. One of the issues I will say though about screening out mental health issues is training to obtain a proper medical/psych history is different at a 6A Medical Sgt's level than a PA or MO would have. You learn on psych rotations to ask questions in a certain way, observe and listen to behaviours and speech patterns and to "push buttons" as it were to see if certain responses are elicited. I managed to catch several people with personality disorders that either self-selected out or were screened out, caught some early sczhizophrenics, etc. Enrollment medicals are no different from any other occupational health medical for someone being hired to work in a remote location or with any safety sensitive job (pilot, law enforcement, truck driver, etc) - if you want the job, you voluntarily submit to examination. Incidentally, I've also refused to screen out people based on a preconceived bias by a Recruiter - they wanted me to fail them medically when there wasn't a reason to, and placed things squarely back on their laps to do their jobs based on the applicant's CFAT scores and interview.

MM
Maybe I'm totally off base with this as I'm drawing my information from when I worked at a certain training institution as well as friends who worked for CFRG.

I was told we weren't really allowed to screen for mental health issues any longer. At least not in a way that would actually reveal underlying issues. We don't screen for fitness so I don't find it particularly difficult to envision us not really doing a vigorous mental health assessment. Perhaps I am totally off base though? Given that you and BA are actual med pers, I probably am. Maybe we are allowed and are just bending the rules? Who knows.

They do make you take the TSD-PI, which apparently is supposed to assess your personality suitability for military service.

Medicineman said it better (and responded quicker) and from a more recent clinician POV. This paper from a CFC student (a GDMO) may be of interest about the process, pros/cons, and some suggestions for improvement.

UNDECLARED MENTAL HEALTH DISORDERS AMONG CAF APPLICANTS: CAN APPLICANT MENTAL HEALTH SCREENING BE IMPROVED?
https://www.cfc.forces.gc.ca/259/290/318/305/brockway.pdf
Let me read it and get back to you. Thanks for the share.
 

Jarnhamar

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Transition Center to Transition Center, absolutely 0 reason to not post the member back home, especially in the specific case I'm talking about where the member was on IR and it not only made medical sense, but financial sense for the CAF to do it.
From my understanding one of the issues is one transition center may let a member run rampant, get away with anything and not hold them accountable. The other transition center doesn't want to take them on and deal with their unchecked behavior, or put their staff in a position to bear the brunt of it.
 
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