New unit to help departing military members

HALIFAX — The federal government detailed its plans Friday to create a special unit to support injured Armed Forces members as they prepare a return to civilian life.

Treasury Board President Scott Brison spoke at a Halifax military family resource centre, two days after Ottawa announced a revamped defence policy which proposes to spend an added $198 million on health and wellness in the next decade.

He said the money will help fund a 1,200-person Canadian Forces Transition Group to begin “over the next several years.” It will include 400 specialized staff and 800 personnel “whose only mission will be to heal” from physical and psychological injuries, including PTSD.

Nova Scotia was the scene earlier this year of a tragic murder suicide where former soldier Lionel Desmond — who was being treated for mental illness — fatally shot his wife, daughter and mother.

The Jan. 3 killings in Upper Big Tracadie, N.S., prompted a difficult debate over soldiers with PTSD, domestic violence and what should be done to prevent such tragedies.

Brison stopped short Friday of promising any public review into the tragedy by Ottawa, but said the federal government will learn from the internal review of Desmond’s suicide as it crafts new policies on transitioning personnel to civilian life.

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