Last week there was a very sad story in the media about suicides of two young soldiers with connections to our nearby base at Shilo. We ask these people to go out and protect our freedom and we are thankful that they do this sometimes miserable and dangerous job. This needs to be done when politics and diplomacy are not able to solve problems that exist in the world.
We in western Manitoba requested that the 2nd Battalion of the Princess Patricias move here from Kapyong Barracks in Winnipeg, which happened just a few years ago. They joined other groups already in Shilo and are a real asset to us.
With the conflict going on in Afghanistan many from this base have served over there on our behalf. We hear that some and perhaps many are coming back having seen and experienced some very bad situations. Never having been in the military I cannot imagine how terrible post-traumatic stress disorder must be, or to be living in a culture of toughness where there is a stigma tied to one who might be feeling trauma.
My hat is off to Cpl. Glen Kirkland of this community who is a great advocate for those who are trying to find a way forward after not being properly prepared for their transition to civilized life.
I believe there is an issue with soldiers being released from the military just before the 10-year pension qualifying benchmark. For those who are being retired early we need to make sure consistent help is in place so the person can quickly get answers to 1) What am I going to do? and 2) How am I going to feed my family?
On Oct. 31, Pierre Daigle, then ombudsman for the Department of National Defence said that “support units for Canada’s ill and injured troops are suffering from acute staff shortages, leaving those tasked with helping the most damaged Afghan war veterans overworked, often inadequately trained and in danger of burnout.”
If this is the situation within the Department of National Defence, then this community of ours needs to step in with what is lacking if we can.
These soldiers at CFB Shilo are our neighbours and we have a responsibility to see that they are getting the support they need to handle post-traumatic stress disorder.
I hope that Prairie Mountain Health, based here in Brandon, the RM of Cornwallis, the City of Brandon and the Defence Department can quickly find a way to solve this mental health issue.
Remembering is great, but now something significant needs to happen.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 4, 2013