Okay. Enough is enough! The Toronto Star announced this morning that Petawawa troops returning from Afghanistan will no longer have a mental health counselling service run by the local hospital. The province has been providing military services, which are actually Ottawa’s responsibility. But, with no dedicated funds, the Pembroke hospital can no longer afford to run the special mental health program for Canadian Forces Base Petawawa’s war-weary soldiers, most of whom have served on serial rotations for as many as four combat tours in the past eight years.
According to Bernadette Wren, the hospital’s director of mental health services, the program began out of “the goodness of the hospital’s heart” to meet the army base’s need for an outpatient service that provided counselling for anger, stress, depression and relationship problems for more than 400 soldiers and their families per year.
The Pembroke hospital intervened because the federal government failed to take care of the base’s soldiers and their families after it ordered our military forces into harm’s way. In the wake of ongoing battles between Ottawa and the provinces over healthcare funding, Ontario has slashed hospitals’ budgets so now Ottawa has to pick up responsibility for dealing with its soldiers’ combat burn-out and post traumatic stress.
No more writing pleas on behalf of our veterans to MPs our prime minister ignores. It’s time to bombard his office with letters demanding he order funding for the Pembroke hospital to carry on its mental health clinic for the local base’s soldiers. Wren has promised the hospital will carry on the needed mental health services if it receives the funding required to support it.
Flood the prime minister’s office with emails at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell him:
You send them into battle. You look after them, Mr. Harper!
We’re fed up with your double standards and your double speak.
And then in a reasoned argument, state why the federal government must support the Pembroke Hospital’s special care of our homecoming troops including keeping the town safe from despondent and angry soldiers acting out their depression and frustration at the government’s abandonment of their most urgent needs. Veterans Affairs’ lame excuse that they didn’t anticipate the flood of battle injuries and mental health problems through eight years of escalating combat where we have rotated the same soldiers over and over again because our military forces are understaffed is not only STUPID, it’s also downright CRUEL and UNACCEPTABLE. We declare your inadequate care of Canada’s veterans an ELECTION ISSUE, and if you continue to fail to look after their needs as you arbitarily extend the mission in Afghanistan under NATO pressure, you will answer to the Canadian people. Your days of sending our sons and daughters into harm’s way without our consent is over!