Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Canada's Joint Personnel Support Unit Not Equipped to Help Soldiers

Military support unit not properly equipped to help soldiers: review
The Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Dec. 28, 2015
Created in 2008, the JPSU was designed to assist wounded soldiers at a time when casualties from the Afghanistan war were mounting. The unit’s 24 personnel-support centres and eight satellite offices, located at bases and wings across the country, offer programs and administrative support to those deemed unable to fulfill their regular duties for at least six months.
Sergeant Paul Martin, who was diagnosed with PTSD after returning from Afghanistan, was transferred to the JPSU. He was facing a medical discharge from the military when he took his own life in 2011.
A military review has identified serious flaws with a support unit intended to aid ill and wounded troops, concluding that it has too few staff and resources to properly help vulnerable soldiers return to work or adapt to civilian life.

The review of the nearly eight-year-old Joint Personnel Support Unit (JPSU) was ordered by General Jonathan Vance two weeks after he assumed the role of Chief of the Defence Staff in mid-July. The Globe and Mail obtained a draft copy of the review team’s findings and the more than 50 recommendations made for overhauling the JPSU.

The internal probe underscores long-standing problems with the support unit, many of which have been raised in previous investigations. Yet, little significant action has been taken over the years to address the JPSU’s shortcomings, even after several soldiers in the support unit took their own lives.

Gen. Vance is pledging to fix the JPSU. He has ordered a deep examination of the review team’s recommendations and a renewal of the unit’s mandate, design, resources and policies.

“The JPSU needs an absolutely thorough review from top to bottom,” Gen. Vance told The Globe and Mail after considering the recommendations. “I have to make sure the JPSU concept accounts for the requirements of the individual and more closely customizes their care.”
Sgt. Martin is one of at least 59 soldiers and veterans who have killed themselves after serving in the Afghanistan war – a number that came to light as result of The Globe’s investigation. The inquiry into Sgt. Martin’s suicide led to four recommendations aimed at improving the JPSU, boosting mental-health services and improving how the military deals with traumatic incidents. All were rejected by military brass, The Globe investigation revealed.
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