OTTAWA – On World Mental Health Day, NDP Veterans Affairs Critic Irene Mathyssen is calling on the government to greatly improve its supports for veterans’ mental health.

“The men and women who have proudly served this country need to be properly supported and the most important first step is a successful transition from military to civilian life. The NDP is concerned with the piecemeal approach that only provides employment, health care and education services after veterans have been released from the military,” said Mathyssen. “It is crucial that these services be in place before veterans are released in order to enable a seamless transition.  We can prevent mental health crises before veterans are clients of Veterans Affairs.”

Last week, the Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Canada released a Joint Suicide Prevention Strategy and while the report outlines some important first steps, there remains critical shortcomings. The new strategy fails to call for any concrete action now.  Reports have already been issued by the DND Ombudsman outlining critical changes that need to be made, but were not implemented in this report. The Strategy also fails to provide much needed additional supports for families.  Families are a crucial support system for veterans and also need support and care.

“Employment and financial security are key to a successful transition. Veterans must feel valued and that they have a purpose when they enter their new civilian life,” added Mathyssen. “This is what needs to be fixed and it can be fixed now. The men and women who have served this country deserve at least that from this government.”