This article is part of The Unremembered, a Globe and Mail investigation into soldiers and veterans who died by suicide after deployment during the Afghanistan mission.
The stories of Afghanistan war veterans who died by suicide are difficult to read. If you're dealing with mental-health concerns, help is available in each province and territory. If you're in crisis, go to your nearest hospital or call 9-1-1 or a crisis line. The Canadian Mental Health Association offers a list of resources and contact numbers, cmha.ca. The Canadian Forces and Veterans Affairs have programs to help military personnel and their families who are struggling with mental-health issues. They include:
- 24/7 member-assistance program at 1-800-268-7708. The program provides telephone counselling for issues such as marriage trouble, depression, alcohol or drug abuse and suicidal thoughts
- 24/7 family information line at 1-800-866-4546. The program offers telephone counselling to military families
- The Canadian Forces has information online about its mental-health resources, forces.gc.ca.
Many services exist outside the military to aid ill and wounded veterans. Here are some of programs that helped the Afghanistan war veterans profiled by The Globe and Mail. They include:
Homewood Health Centre is a 300-bed mental health and addiction facility in Guelph, Ont. The centre has a specialized traumatic stress recovery program. For details, visit homewoodhealth.com/health-centre or call 519-824-1010.
Project Healing Waters Canada offers fly-fishing instruction and excursions for ill and injured veterans. The program provides camaraderie and a focused activity that gets vets in touch with nature along with teaching them a new hobby. For details, e-mail email@example.com or visit leseauxcuratives.com.
Outward Bound Canada teaches resilience and leadership through outdoor adventure in four provinces and has a program tailored to helping vets struggling with the physical or mental impact of their military experiences and transition back into civilian life. Visit outwardbound.ca or call 1-888-688-9273, ext. 205.
Citadel Canine Society is a Vancouver-based charity that trains and delivers service dogs across Canada to new veterans and first responders with occupational stress injuries for no charge. Visit citadelcanine.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can Praxis is a national program with locations in Alberta and Ontario that uses exercises with horses to help veterans dealing with mental illnesses such as PTSD. The program is free, including travel costs, lodging and meals for veterans enrolled in the program. For details visit canpraxis.com, e-mail email@example.com or call 403-852-0907.
Wounded Warriors Weekend is an annual event that provides a long weekend of activities, camaraderie and relaxation for vets coping with PTSD and their families. Events are primarily held in Saskatchewan. Visit woundedwarriorsweekend.org or e-mail WoundedWarriorsWeekendFoundation@Gmail.com.
And there are further programs and support online. Among them:
Veterans Emergency Transition Services helps homeless and vulnerable veterans reintegrate into civilian life by connecting them with health care, veterans' benefits and employment opportunities. The non-profit organization was started by a veteran in Halifax in 2010 and has grown to include volunteers nationwide. For details, visit vetscanada.org or contact the group at 1-888-228-3871 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wounded Warriors Canada is a veterans' charity focusing on mental health. The group raises money for initiatives such as PTSD service dogs, peer-support programs and couples group therapy. It also recently started a scholarship program for children of veterans diagnosed with PTSD. Visit woundedwarriors.ca or phone 1-888-706-4808.
Send Up the Count is a Facebook group that offers military members and veterans quick, direct access to peers who have shared similar struggles and can ease some stress until the right professional connection is made. Visit facebook.com/groups/sendupthecount.
Military Minds is a website and Facebook group that links the afflicted and their families to the right agency and raises funds for vets in Canada, the United States, Australia and Great Britain. It's managed by Canadian veteran Scott Casey, a former United Nations peacekeeper who served in the former Yugoslavia. For more information visit militarymindsinc.com or facebook.com/MilitaryMindsInc.