More than 6,700 veterans from Afghan war receiving federal assistance for PTSD

OTTAWA — Canada’s war in Afghanistan ended five years ago but the price of that effort continues to grow.

Newly revealed figures show the number of veterans from the war in Afghanistan receiving federal support for mental-health conditions nearly doubled between March 2014 and March 2018.

The figures are in a report obtained from Veterans Affairs Canada through access-to-information legislation and underscore the enduring toll the war has taken on the mental health of many military members who served there. They also highlight the importance of adequate mental-health services for veterans, which successive federal governments have sought to address over the years with mixed results.

The report was provided to former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould in January upon her appointment as veterans-affairs minister, a post she held for only a few weeks before resigning amid the SNC-Lavalin affair.

According to the document, more than 6,700 military members who served in Afghanistan received disability benefits for mental-health conditions in March 2018 — an increase of nearly 3,200 from the same month in 2014.

In both cases, the vast majority of those receiving benefits for mental conditions were struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder “directly related to their service in Afghanistan,” according to the report.

In fact, PTSD was found to have been the top medical diagnosis for Afghan war veterans applying for assistance, as compared to hearing loss and ringing in the ears for service members who had not deployed to Afghanistan.

More than 40,000 Canadians served in the 13-year Afghanistan mission, which began with fighting the Taliban after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States and progressed to trying to stabilize and rebuild the war-torn country.

That means nearly 17 per cent of all Canadian military personnel who deployed to Afghanistan have received federal assistance for psychological trauma sustained during the war.

Successive federal governments have been criticized for years over the support provided to such veterans, with concerns raised about financial assistance and long wait times for mental-health services.

Veterans Affairs Canada recently revealed nearly 40,000 veterans were waiting at the end of November to hear if their applications for financial assistance would be approved, 11,000 more than the previous year.

And more than one-third of them had been in the queue longer than 16 weeks, which was also an increase and a sign that veterans were waiting ever longer to find out whether they were entitled to assistance.

While Veterans Affairs did not say how many of those applications related to psychological injuries, an internal report obtained by The Canadian Press last year found demand for mental-health services routinely outstripped available resources.

Just Posted

Wildfire crews watching for dangerous wind shift in High Level, Alta.

HIGH LEVEL, Alta. — Crews battling an enormous wildfire just outside the… Continue reading

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

OTTAWA — While most Canadians firmly back the Charter of Rights and… Continue reading

Red Deer stamp-collecting event a hit, local club expected to start in fall

Postage stamp-loving Red Deerians can expect to have a place to gather… Continue reading

Red Deer woman one of three arrested by Sundre RCMP

The 19-year-old had numerous arrest warrants out of various jurisdictions

Businessman and volunteer named 2019 Citizen of the Year

John Donald’s parents and sister were each honoured previously

WATCH: Sunnybrook Farm Museum in Red Deer welcomes spring

Sunnybrook Farm Museum is celebrating spring in Red Deer. On Saturday, the… Continue reading

Cast your votes for the Best of Red Deer

Nominations for the Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are officially… Continue reading

Feds lay out proposed new rules for voice, video recorders in locomotives

OTTAWA — The federal Liberals have laid out their proposal for rules… Continue reading

Trump’s trophy day of sumo, golf and cheeseburgers in Japan

TOKYO — President Donald Trump presented a special U.S.-made trophy to the… Continue reading

Two dead, one seriously injured, following explosion in Calgary home’s garage

CALGARY — Police in Calgary say they believe a house fire where… Continue reading

Raptors fans spill onto the streets ahead of potentially historic game

Cars honked, exhilarated fans chanted and long lines formed outside bars and… Continue reading

Stan Lee’s former manager arrested on elder abuse charges

LOS ANGELES — A former business manager of Stan Lee has been… Continue reading

BCUC sets out process for gas and diesel price inquiry, set to wrap Aug. 30

VANCOUVER — The British Columbia Utilities Commission says it has set out… Continue reading

Most Read