Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight News Highlights – November 28, 2012

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  • Canada’s top soldier challenged the country’s medical researchers Tuesday to develop a new way to deliver mental and physical health services to veterans in their community.  Speaking at the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research’s third annual forum on military health, Lieut.-Gen. Peter Devlin, commander of the Canadian Army, said new ways are needed to make sure veterans and their families can access services in all areas of the country.  Devlin said Canada has built a reputation for leadership in battlefield medicine.  “We can do the same at home in our communities,” Devlin said.  Devlin said researchers and policy makers need to create a new system to bridge the gaps between the military health system and provincial health care, adding that one of the biggest challenges to providing care to veterans is geography.  Reserve soldiers are particularly at risk, he said, because they live at home, work civilian jobs and volunteer for military service on a part-time basis.  They face the challenges of military service but largely live civilian lives often at some distance from military medical centres.  Some estimates indicate only half of the mental health injuries in veterans of Afghanistan have been diagnosed, Devlin said ….”
  • Soldiers sent on missions overseas no longer fight alone. Their families share the stress of combat daily through the media images, said Senator Romeo Dallaire.  Speaking Tuesday at the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research’s third annual forum on military health in Kingston, Dallaire said modern communications mean people in Canada, including families of soldiers, see what is happening on faraway battlefields.  Combat missions change the soldiers who are deployed and when they return, they return to families who have also been changed by the experience.  Those experiences mean spouses and children of Canadian Forces’ personnel can suffer long-term mental health injuries that can linger and lead to suicide and other health problems years after the mission ends.  Dallaire shared his own family’s experience with post traumatic stress disorder from two different wars on two continents ….”
  • Meanwhile, from the VAC Info-machine….  “The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, today gave the opening address to delegates at the third annual Canadian Military and Veteran Health Research Forum in Kingston, Ontario.  “Our Government is proud to be a partner in presenting the Military and Veteran Health Research Forum,” said Minister Blaney. “The ground-breaking research presented and shared at this event is invaluable in helping us meet the needs of Canada’s Veterans and their families.” …. “This forum is one important way to get information that will help our Veterans and their families,” said Minister Blaney. “In addition to our ongoing research efforts, we have made a number of significant improvements to help Canada’s Veterans make the transition to civilian life, including implementing the comprehensive new Veterans Transition Action Plan and new e-services—such as the Veterans’ Benefits Browser, My VAC Account and My VAC Book—that put important information at Veterans’ fingertips when they need it.”  ….”
  • … and from the Defence Minister, when questioned in the House of Commons Monday on the ombudsman having trouble getting paperwork on how Reservists are compensated if wounded:  “With respect to the production of documents, we continue to have a very productive and transparent relationship with the ombudsman and his office. We respect his work and that of his office with respect to the Department of National Defence and that under his purview. We will continue to work with his office within the mandate and the review of the law …. we continue to work very productively with the ombudsman’s office and we will do so within his mandate and within the law. It is that simple. That is what would be expected” – more from The Canadian Press here.
  • The Minister on the same issue, on Tuesday:  “The reality is that we have every intention of treating reservists the same way we treat regular force members. We will be acting on the recommendations put forward by the ombudsman. We will follow the law and the legislation with respect to our interaction and relationship with the Canadian Forces ombudsman.”
  • Joshua Baker, 1985-2010, R.I.P.   A Calgary reservist charged with manslaughter in a training accident in Afghanistan admitted Tuesday he could have prevented the death of a fellow soldierUnder cross-examination at his court martial, Maj. Darryl Watts conceded that if he had ordered his soldiers into nearby armoured vehicles during the firing of an anti-personnel mine, it is likely Cpl. Josh Baker would still be alive.  “Would you say if the men were inside they would have been uninjured and Cpl. Baker would not have died?” asked prosecutor Maj. Dylan Kerr.  “Correct,” replied Watts ….”
  • Think tank get-together on whazzup after Afghanistan  “On Wednesday, 28 November 2012, The Atlantic Council of Canada (ACC) will be hosting its annual Fall Conference …. This conference will focus on Canada and NATO’s legacy in Afghanistan and the recent strategic shift from conflicts relying on personnel-heavy operations to more technologically reliant fronts, notably cyber security and drone warfare ….”
  • Way Up North (1)  Mark Collins on someone wanting SOMETHING to happen at Goose Bay – more from mainstream media here and here, and lookit aaaallll the recent MERX listings for work on and around the base here.  Could someone be working on one of those “lookit how many contracts we’re awarding” like the ones here and here, with a little “lookit how it’s going to help protect the north” messaging thrown in?
  • Way Up North (2)  Canadian officer talks about “Communicating Across the North”  “Being in the United States Air Force (or in my case, the Royal Canadian Air Force) allows people to see some pretty incredible parts of the world – places that no average person could possibly ever experience with their work, or even on a weekend vacation – to the last frontier.  I am a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) officer posted to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) in Alaska. I work with the 611th Air Communications Squadron (ACOMS) in communications support of the Alaskan NORAD Region (ANR) mission.  In an organization of about 25 United States Air Force personnel and 15 Department of Defense civilians, it is certainly a unique and wonderful experience being the sole Canadian in an entirely American organization. I am fully integrated within the Squadron and am embraced to focus on our common NORAD mission.  (In total, more than 35 Canadian Forces personnel work with the Canadian Detachment in support of the ANR at JBER near Anchorage.)  My current focal point is to oversee and monitor mid- to long-term project upgrades of ANR radars. I also champion movements on how to efficiently and effectively distribute radar and communications feeds to create maximum redundancy across the North ….”
  • Another anniversary coming up…. “….  2017 will mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The milestone has not gone unnoticed by Canada’s military community. In the Senate session of July 27th, 2012, Liberal Senator LGen (Ret) Roméo Dallaire pressed the government to provide details about how it plans to commemorate the centennial year of the battle. To date, little response has been forthcoming from the Government. Contrastingly, Great Britain recently unveiled its already-advanced plans to commemorate the most important events of WWI for that nation.  Given WWI’s nature as a turning point in Canada’s history, one hopes that the Government is likewise formulating commemoration of the legacy of our involvement in the war ….”

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28 November 12 at 7:45

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