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Mental health access for families of veterans still lacking, says new ombudsman | CBC News

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Veterans Affairs Canada hasn’t gone far sufficient in reversing restrictions on psychological health counselling for the families of former troopers, sailors and aircrew, the county’s new veterans ombudsman says in a hard-hitting report.

The federal authorities imposed constraints on access to psychological health counselling for families of veterans virtually a 12 months in the past. The coverage shift was a response to a political embarrassment — the case of convicted killer Christopher Garnier, a son of a veteran who obtained taxpayer-funded put up traumatic stress therapy.

While Veterans Affairs by no means formally amended the household care coverage, it started utilizing a a lot stricter interpretation of it — which had a direct affect on some veterans’ families.

“There was also a lack of transparency with respect to how these significant changes in interpretation were implemented,” Nishika Jardine, a retired colonel, wrote in her report launched at the moment, her first since being appointed veterans ombudsman final fall.

“The lack of clear communication caused confusion and frustration among some veterans and their families, especially since some family members only found out about the changes during their mental health appointments.”

Late final winter, CBC News documented a number of circumstances of families who had seen providers decreased or halted as a result of of the stricter interpretation of the coverage. Federal officers responded by denying that families had been “cut off” from care.

But as of mid-March 2020 — simply when the pandemic was getting began — the division had notified 133 families in writing that their counselling advantages have been in peril of being discontinued.

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Jardine’s investigation famous that the restrictions have been revised, however not reversed.

It’s not ok, she concluded.

“The [Office of the Veterans Ombudsman] believes this guideline continues to be too narrow and that families should receive better access to the mental health supports that they need,” stated her report.

The division’s coverage ties household access to psychological health therapy to the person veteran and is supposed to help veterans themselves of their restoration.

The ombudsman argues that the families enduring the pressures of army life — the frequent strikes, the isolation and the stress of realizing a beloved one on deployment is in hurt’s method — deserve their very own unfettered access to taxpayer-funded therapy.

“In the OVO’s assessment, when a family member suffers from an illness or injury related to the unique conditions and challenges of military service, they should have access to mental health treatment, independent of the veteran’s treatment or rehabilitation plan,” stated the report.

The division tightened its guidelines governing when families can obtain backed counselling within the wake of the Garnier case. Stung by public criticism over that case, then-veterans minister Seamus O’Regan ordered a evaluate and public servants started pursuing a stricter interpretation of the principles.

The present minister, Lawrence MacAulay, has requested his officers to be as versatile as potential in deciding whether or not members of the family qualify.

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