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The war doesn’t end when soldiers return home

the 48th regulator

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https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/the-war-doesnt-end-when-soldiers-return-home/article33533540/?ref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theglobeandmail.com&service=mobile

The war doesn’t end when soldiers return home


ROMÉO DALLAIRE
Contributed to The Globe and Mail
8 hours ago
January 8, 2017

When I learned the news last week about the Canadian veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder who unsuccessfully sought help and then, overcome by his operational injury, apparently killed his family and himself – I was beyond distraught. The catastrophic case of Lionel Desmond could not serve as a more powerful warning to the senior policy-makers in our country. But will it be enough?

I have spent decades fighting for injured veterans, including myself, as we continue to destroy ourselves and too many others in our wake. The wars that soldiers fight do not end when we return home; they stay alive within us, and without urgent treatment our injury – PTSD – will destroy us. Just like an injury to the body will become gangrenous, fester, and infect, so too does this injury to our brains and moral centre. But unlike most other injuries, PTSD deeply affects the entire family as well; in this case, fatally.

The scale of the damage and the depth of the destruction that deployment in today's complex conflicts can wreak is almost incomprehensible. Lionel Desmond's actions were reprehensible; but, so too was the lack of care he and his family received when he returned from his mission. This was a soldier lost in a system that is grievously inadequate to handle the load and complexity of these injuries or to provide the urgent support required for vets and their families. With a chain of command out of the picture, and an underfunded veterans department strangled by regulations, our system is wholly unprepared for this postwar demand. As a result, injured vets, both in and out of service, continue to be shunted aside, falling into the support cracks, flailing for help.

This is an urgent message that must be heeded: The casualties of past wars continue to mount even as we are preparing for the next conflict. Military-weapons upgrades, the introduction of new tactics, and preparations of troops to face the next threat are all getting a heavy dose of essential funding and priority. However, penny-pinching resource allocations and prohibitive restrictions around support to casualties of the last fight clearly have devastating effects. Care for our current injured members sets the start line for the total commitment of our soldiers and their families for the next round in the defence of peace and human rights.

Nova Scotia – where Lionel Desmond lived and where I am now based with the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative – is home to a disproportionate number of veterans. To utilize the strengths and skills of injured vets, while giving them a second chance to serve, the Dallaire Initiative has instituted a training program – through which Canadian military veterans assist in the dissemination of a new doctrine to reduce battle casualties and help eradicate the use of child soldiers globally.

The Canadian government would do well to follow suit: to seek out injured veterans and provide them whatever tools they require to rejoin society after their missions, for all our sakes.

As I wrote in my last book:

"I find myself empty now, at a loss for words. Over the past two years, I mustered what I had left to share the details of my own struggles with PTSD. I turn to those pages now.

It was not easy for me to share my vulnerabilities so candidly, but the dark side of living with PTSD has to come out. If it does not, the world will continue to hear of us only when we commit suicide. … Courageous soldiers serving in today's difficult and ethically ambiguous missions can and should be treated for PTSD at its first signs; the Forces should anticipate the need for treatment in order to head the damage off, not just wait until a soldier is desperate enough to seek help. And we – meaning all of us – need to shoulder our share of the burden and recognize the contribution made by our soldiers when they undertake such missions on behalf of humanity. We need to insist that they are supported when they come home.

The brain is as vital to life as any organ in the human body. To treat an injury to the brain as less urgent, less in need of care and compassion than other, more obvious types of injury is misguided and ignorant. Our efforts to treat our veterans with PTSD must be comparable to our efforts to repair damaged hearts, provide timely kidney transplants, avoid amputations or restore eyesight. … Only when we truly understand the injury and take action to mitigate its impact will we be able to say that we recognize the real costs of peacekeeping, peacemaking and war."

Lieutenant-General (ret) Roméo Dallaire is the founder of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative at Dalhousie University, and author of Waiting for First Light: My Ongoing Battle with PTSD.
© Copyright 2017 The Globe and Mail Inc. All rights reserved
 

the 48th regulator

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Pat Stogran

https://www.facebook.com/pat.stogran/posts/10154830230602246

There are, no doubt, many more "hurting units" out there, broken from our misadventure in Afghanistan and trying to piece their lives back together. Like Patton said, "A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week." I wish the government would stop telling us how hard they are working and take some substantial and highly visible steps to deal with this, yet another Canadian nightmare! P@
 

OldSolduer

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Zebedy Colt said:
Pat Stogran

https://www.facebook.com/pat.stogran/posts/10154830230602246

There are, no doubt, many more "hurting units" out there, broken from our misadventure in Afghanistan and trying to piece their lives back together. Like Patton said, "A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week." I wish the government would stop telling us how hard they are working and take some substantial and highly visible steps to deal with this, yet another Canadian nightmare! P@

Agreed. It seems the Young Dauphin is more intrersted in handing out our money to other nations.
 

Flavus101

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Does the low Legion membership rate (after getting out) with Afghanistan vets have a negative effect?

Previous generations had a place they could go that had a mess atmosphere and was filled with all kinds of people who have similar experiences to each other and can relate to each other. There you could have face to face conversations and connect with people again.

If you lose connection to the society you belong to and fought for the risks of committing suicide greatly increase.

 

mariomike

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Flavus101 said:
Previous generations had a place they could go that had a mess atmosphere and was filled with all kinds of people who have similar experiences to each other and can relate to each other.

Because back in the 1960's almost every Canadian male over the age of 35 that I encountered had been in a World War.
It was a different time. If eligible men did not volunteer, they would be drafted.

Also, at least in my neighbourhood, the Legion was the only place that served alcohol.  And, getting away from the wives for a couple of hours may have had something to do with it.  :)

Flavus101 said:
If you lose connection to the society you belong to and fought for the risks of committing suicide greatly increase.

Perhaps one of the reasons that the emergency services, at least in my city, have active pensioner associations with luncheons etc. including updates from the chiefs. They actually attend our luncheons. Tell us what's new, like we are still a part of it. Even the Chaplain is there with a prayer.
You are considered to be a member of the department until the day you die. Funny how they treat you nicer after you retire than when you worked there. That's the truth!
As the service is local, no part-timers, relatively small and with a very low rate of attrition, I believe that also helps. Members, after 25 years of full-time service, are invited to join. I joined while still on the job, so it made the transition into retirement that much easier.
Also, if the Supervisor ( been the same guy for many years ) in charge phones you with a request to help a member in your area you don't have to. But, you do feel a sense of obligation to the Association, because you might be calling upon them for help one day.

We don't have anything like this, but I have heard that police officers and firefighters can travel anywhere in North America, and if they have an emergency of some sort, that they can call the local union hall and they will help them.

 

George Wallace

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Flavus101 said:
Previous generations had a place they could go that had a mess atmosphere and was filled with all kinds of people who have similar experiences to each other and can relate to each other.

Not to mention, the CAF, itself, has been "Killing off" the Messes since the mid 1980's. 
 

Flavus101

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Mariomike, I'm really not sure why you have such a hard on for "part timers". XD

I'm glad that we agree. I think that the Legion has ostracized itself from it's intended goal. Your point about having the local Chief come in and talk to the guys at the association lunches is awesome.

I know that this is sort of getting off topic and probably better belongs in the Legion thread, however I think it also pertains to the topic.

Has the Legion went too far over the edge that it cannot be saved and a new entity needs to be created? Or can the same original goals of the legion be accomplished in some better way? Perhaps having a local bar of an area designated as the pseudo  Legion (just tossing ideas around).
 

daftandbarmy

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Flavus101 said:
Mariomike, I'm really not sure why you have such a hard on for "part timers". XD

I'm glad that we agree. I think that the Legion has ostracized itself from it's intended goal. Your point about having the local Chief come in and talk to the guys at the association lunches is awesome.

I know that this is sort of getting off topic and probably better belongs in the Legion thread, however I think it also pertains to the topic.

Has the Legion went too far over the edge that it cannot be saved and a new entity needs to be created? Or can the same original goals of the legion be accomplished in some better way? Perhaps having a local bar of an area designated as the pseudo  Legion (just tossing ideas around).

Given the wide dispersion of vets these days, a more suitable model might involve online community building, with 'in place services' of some kind in direct support. Online folks can help each other, as well as those not inclined to go online. In place services can be directed where and when required to do the F2F check ins everyone needs at some point in time.

You know, kind of like an Army.ca network with outreach teams.
 

mariomike

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Flavus101 said:
Mariomike, I'm really not sure why you have such a hard on for "part timers".

mariomike said:
As the service is local, no part-timers, relatively small and with a very low rate of attrition, I believe that also helps.

Not sure how that implies a "hard on"? If it does, or caused offence, my apologies.

Toronto does not employ part-time police officers, firefighters or paramedics. But, I don't believe that means the services have hard ons for them. That's just the way it is.

 

Flavus101

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Mariomike, it was just an observation. I do respect all the years you put in for your community.

My point with that statement was why create a divide when we are talking about a way for folks who get out of a service to stay in touch with each other. (If that wasn't your intention, I apologize, took it right out of context.)

daftandbarmy, while I agree that online communities are a step in the right direction. You can only spend so much time online before it becomes unhealthy and I would question how "real and tangible" online only relationships are. As far as the face to face services, what I am trying to get at is a place for the current generation of Vets to gather in much the same way that past generations of Vets did at the Legion? Or is that not what this generation of Veterans wants? And if that is the case, what do they want as their method of reconnecting with past friends at a place of leisure?
 

daftandbarmy

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Flavus101 said:
Mariomike, it was just an observation. I do respect all the years you put in for your community.

My point with that statement was why create a divide when we are talking about a way for folks who get out of a service to stay in touch with each other. (If that wasn't your intention, I apologize, took it right out of context.)

daftandbarmy, while I agree that online communities are a step in the right direction. You can only spend so much time online before it becomes unhealthy and I would question how "real and tangible" online only relationships are. As far as the face to face services, what I am trying to get at is a place for the current generation of Vets to gather in much the same way that past generations of Vets did at the Legion? Or is that not what this generation of Veterans wants? And if that is the case, what do they want as their method of reconnecting with past friends at a place of leisure?

Reddit?

Seriously, all the service organizations like the Legion are struggling because no one socializes that way anymore. If we miss that, then we miss the new vets too.
 

dimsum

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daftandbarmy said:
Reddit?

Seriously, all the service organizations like the Legion are struggling because no one socializes that way anymore. If we miss that, then we miss the new vets too.

I'm surprised that the CAF doesn't just put out an online survey (on social media, not one of our "click as fast as possible" ones) targeted to members say 35 and younger, that simply asks that question, almost like a "how did you hear from us?" survey that companies use to figure out how their advertising is working.
 

daftandbarmy

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Dimsum said:
I'm surprised that the CAF doesn't just put out an online survey (on social media, not one of our "click as fast as possible" ones) targeted to members say 35 and younger, that simply asks that question, almost like a "how did you hear from us?" survey that companies use to figure out how their advertising is working.

There is a huge amount of good research already available about how to market effectively to various generations. Most of our 'newer vets' likely fall into the Gen X category: born 1965 - 80.

Here's an example. It's obviously 'sales' focused stuff, but you get the idea. Time is short for these people and they won't be sitting around at Legions, much:

Generation X: Time is a precious commodity for these busy young families, so reduce deadline pressure by offering meal planning and deals, school supplies and little indulgences like lattes to make shopping less onerous. Child care activity centers or computer kiosks keep kids engaged while parents shop. In-store cooking or craft classes offer family fun and a reason to increase the trip count. More than 80% of X-ers are online checking out Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, shopping and price-checking online and texting or emailing friends. Deliver quick hit info and offers using new media for fast results.

http://www.marketingcharts.com/television/marketing-across-the-generations-12158/
 

mariomike

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Flavus101 said:
My point with that statement was why create a divide when we are talking about a way for folks who get out of a service to stay in touch with each other. (If that wasn't your intention, I apologize, took it right out of context.)

I didn't want to get in to it, but feel I may owe you an explanation.

We can work at "Secondary Employment" ( as they call it ). Any part-time job we want on our days off. Roofing, landscaping, in a jail, armoured truck or the PRes etc...

Anything, except emergency services for another GTA municipality. By the same token, members of other municipalities were never allowed to work part-time in ours.

Because they employ full-time only, Toronto's police, fire and paramedics services are known as "career" departments.

That works in a big city. Maybe not so well in other areas.

On the other hand, whatever Component, Element or Unit, every member of the CAF belongs to the same institution. Wherever they are stationed. So, they can all belong to the same Legion.


 

Furniture

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mariomike said:
Because back in the 1960's almost every Canadian male over the age of 35 that I encountered had been in a World War.
It was a different time. If eligible men did not volunteer, they would be drafted.

I think that's a huge part of why the troops from previous wars seemed less prone to OSI's. I also read a little while back that people were more supportive of the war, and because the motives, objectives, and morality of the war were questioned less the troops didn't feel the same level of anxiety over fighting/killing/wounding the enemy. I can't right now recall where I read the explanation or who wrote it...   
 

mariomike

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WeatherdoG said:
I think that's a huge part of why the troops from previous wars seemed less prone to OSI's.

Maybe there weren't as many psychiatrists available in Canada after the World Wars?

For example, I read that, after 9/11, "9,000 mental health workers massed in New York City."

 
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Here's a link to a recent article for RUSI(NS) on Romeo Dallaire's Child Soldiers Initiative and the work being done through their VTECS program:

https://rusi-ns.ca/vtecs/
 
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