Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Canada unveil new Suicide Prevention Strategy
October 5, 2017 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces / Veterans Affairs Canada
The Government of Canada is committed to providing the best care available to our service members and Veterans. We have a responsibility to find effective, sustainable and appropriate services and programs to support our military members, Veterans, and their families.
Today, Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan, Veterans Affairs Minister and Associate Minister of National Defence Seamus O’Regan, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs Sherry Romanado, and General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff, announced a joint suicide prevention strategy that seeks to understand, address and mitigate risks of suicide across the entire military and Veteran community.
Developed in partnership with mental health experts, this joint strategy represents a new, holistic, pan-Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) approach to suicide prevention. The approach combines our efforts in education, communications, heath care and support initiatives to better manage risk factors and stress. The ultimate goal of this effort is a community of resilient and productive CAF members, Veterans, and families supported by robust initiatives and programs that promote well-being and prevent self-harm and suicide.
While the CAF and VAC have a network of programs currently in place designed to identify and get help for members and Veterans in distress, the joint strategy identifies more than 160 action items between the two departments to ensure members and Veterans get the services they need.
There is not one single cause of suicide, nor one single program that can address and eliminate the risk of suicide. While it is impossible to prevent every suicide, meaningful action can, and must, be taken to reduce the risks and build protective factors, support, and resilience.
“There is no simple solution or easy answer, but through this joint strategy, we will help our military members, Veterans and their families reduce the risk of suicide and enhance ways of providing support where and when it is needed. Doing everything we can to prevent suicide is a cornerstone of our commitment to the well-being of military members, Veterans and their families.”
— Minister of Veterans Affairs Seamus O’Regan
“The women and men who serve in the Canadian Armed Forces are our military’s number one capability, and taking care of them and their families is our top priority. By viewing the risks of suicide from a holistic perspective, the Joint Suicide Prevention Strategy considers the mental, physical, social and spiritual aspects of health and wellness. By making it easier for military members and Veterans to get the help they may need, and doing all we can to ensure nobody falls through the cracks, we can make a difference in the lives of Canadian Armed Forces members and Veterans.”
— Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan
While suicide is a public health issue that is of concern to all Canadians, the nature of the military environment, operations and lifestyle generates unique stressors and risks for our military members and Veterans.
The creation of this joint strategy has driven both organizations to review their existing practices, enhance and expand current offerings, and ensure a higher level of coordination to ensure that no CAF member falls through the cracks during the transition to post-service life.
Under this common strategy, CAF and VAC produced their respective action plan that identifies, coordinates and ensures the implementation of specific prevention activities. These plans were developed in a collaborative and coordinated manner, and they clearly outline each department’s initiatives and programs.
From a Canadian Armed Forces perspective, the action plan is integrated with a number of mutually supporting efforts and strategies as listed in Strong, Secure, Engaged: Canada’s Defence Policy. Primary among these is the Total Health and Wellness Strategy, which will provide over-arching direction on all matters related to health and wellness.
VAC is making four-year investments: of $4 million in a new Veteran Emergency Fund to assist Veterans in urgent and unique situations, and $13.9 million in a new Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund that will promote innovative research and services.
VAC is investing $17.5 million over four years, and then $9.2 million per year ongoing, starting in April 2018, to establish a Centre of Excellence on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related mental health conditions.
Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs
Veterans Affairs Canada
Office of the Minister of National Defence
Department of National Defence
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