Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Canada strengths

Joint Suicide Prevention Strategy
Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Canada

Working to prevent suicide among CAF members and Veterans, we can build on some core strengths, including:

Enhanced resilience: the Canadian Armed Forces, through selection, training and other programs, builds a community with greater resilience to psychological and physical stress, based on mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. CAF training and programs are designed to prepare members for operational challenges and difficult conditions, so that members are as ready as possible to adapt to, and recover from, stressful situations.

Social and community support: in addition to training and preparation, the CAF and Veterans communities are a powerful resource, creating a close-knit group of individuals and families with shared experiences, who support one another and make a real difference in managing trying times.

Education and awareness: the CAF organization allows us to educate and raise awareness of critical health issues efficiently and quickly. From program delivery to the words and actions of our leaders, we have in place a ready-made system to spread ideas, build knowledge, and shape action. Similarly, the VAC service delivery networks allow us to effectively raise awareness of health issues and available services and resources to Veterans across Canada.

Assessment, management, and treatment: both the Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Canada have a strong network of programs designed to identify and assist members and Veterans in distress. The resources and infrastructure needed are in place; we know we can focus our resources, continue to improve, and build understanding, but we are not starting from scratch.

CAF and VAC making a difference with real people

Getting back to life after traumatic deployment experiences, Mike Newcome found help at the Operational Stress Injury Clinic (OSI Clinic) at Parkwood Institute, part of St. Joseph’s Health Care London (St. Joseph’s). He was officially diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Depression, two conditions which are considered Operational Stress Injuries (OSIs). OSIs are mental illnesses that can occur as a result of trauma experienced during the course of military service.

“I can say without a doubt the OSI Clinic saved me and helped me get my life back,” says Mike. Through the therapy and services offered at St. Joseph’s OSI Clinic, Mike was able to quit drinking and reduce the symptoms of his PTSD. Two years after he began treatment, Mike had progressed so well he was offered a position as a Peer Support Coordinator for the Operational Stress Injury Social Support (OSISS) program at St. Joseph’s. OSISS is a partnership program, funded jointly by the Department of National Defense and Veterans Affairs Canada. Peer Support Coordinators provide mentorship to peers in various locations, including patients of the OSI Clinics, and assist them in their recovery journey and with re-establishing social connections. “I’ve been so fortunate in my 10 years with OSISS to give back to the clinic and help other Veterans. Knowing they are talking to someone who has been through what they have been through helps. It makes them feel like they are not alone. There is a lot of hope. I am here today.”

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