I would like to take this opportunity to reassure your readers that Veterans Affairs Canada is providing injured and ill veterans and their families with the care and support they deserve.
I write concerning columnist Patrick Butler’s Dec. 9 piece, “‘Playing that silly game’ while lives are at stake.”
As a growing number of veterans step forward to seek help through our mental health services, we continue to ensure that we have the right programs and sufficient resources in place to provide them with the treatment they need.
For example, we have partnered with the Department of National Defence to operate or fund 17 clinics across the country specializing in mental health care.
For veterans living in remote or rural areas, we assist them through the clinics’ tele-mental health services.
In addition, Veterans Affairs Canada has access to a national network of more than 4,800 community mental health professionals so veterans can get the help they need wherever they live. This includes approximately 375 community clinical care managers who are available to provide intensive case management services to eligible individuals with complex mental health needs.
In addition, we have a number of other mental health services and programs.
There is a 24-hour, toll-free help line that provides short-term professional counselling and referral services and which is staffed by employees who are trained in crisis support and suicide prevention. There are peer-support programs so that veterans and their families can seek help from colleagues who know first hand what it’s like to cope with service-related injuries.
We have also introduced new mobile apps, which are another useful tool modelled after similar successful ones developed by our allies.
Although they do not substitute for clinical help, they complement face-to-face interaction with counsellors and have been found effective by veterans in helping them assess, monitor and manage their symptoms.
They have also been supported by partners including the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Veterans Transition Network, and Military Minds.
As these initiatives illustrate, we are committed to providing the mental health care and support veterans and their families need, when they need them.
director general, Operational Stress Injuries National Network
Service Delivery Branch
Veterans Affairs Canada