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Offical Complaint of Negligence against the Harper Government to the Auditor General of Canada and the Veterans Ombudsman

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Offical Complaint of Negligence against the Harper Government to the Auditor General of Canada and the Veterans Ombudsman

Post by Whisky45 on Sun 22 Apr 2012, 12:29

Official  complaint  to the Auditor General  of Canada and Office of the Veterans Ombudsman  in regards to the wilful negligence by the Harper Government to not fund the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in dealing with the very long time serious problem of Occupational Stress Injuries, particularly Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

My name is Eric Rebiere, a former RCMP officer and disabled veteran whose career in the RCMP was cut short at 24 years  because of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which was the result of being deployed to Croatia 1992/93 and Kosovo 1999/2000.

I have been an outspoken advocate for the implementation of the Occupational Stress Injury Social Support Program created by Lt. Colonel Stephane Grenier  since 2006 . I know and understand the value of the OSISS program because of being encouraged to join OSISS, a peer support program by  Psychiatrist  Dr. Don Richardson from Veterans Affairs Canada who diagnosed my PTSD in 2004, who also  assisted in the development of the OSISS program.

I  know from personal experience that this invaluable programs helps injured Soldiers with occupational stress injuries like PTSD in their recovery. I was allowed to join the OSISS program in2004 as an injured RCMP officer with PTSD and this program saved my life, marriage and eventually helped in re-establishing relationships with my two kids which was very strained for many many years because of my duty related PTSD which was undiagnosed for approx 10 years. It was a life of hell for me and my family which is a very common reality  of living with PTSD.

Because the RCMP have been providing volunteers for UN missions since 1989 and  to an active war zone in Afghanistan since  2007 to date the management of the OSISS program have and continue to have an  unofficial open door policy for injured RCMP officers/ veterans suffering Occupational Stress Injuries  like PTSD. They even have an open door policy for the RCMP/veteran’s families in the Family Peer Support Program which is another important aspect of what OSISS does to help the families of those injured Canadian Forces personnel who have been traumatised by the fallout of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  The RCMP does not fund the OSISS program and those injured RCMP officers and veterans have only found the OSISS program through word of mouth and not by the RCMP management who have studied the OSISS program to death and never committed funding since the military implemented the OSISS program a very long time ago.
The OSISS program works and because of the embarrassment by the RCMP managements lack of committal to join this life saving program who know that injured RCMP veterans and RCMP officers are taking advantage of the OSISS open door policy which is not part of the OSISS mandate, I decided to become a trained OSISS volunteer in 2006 so that I can give back and help soldiers/injured veterans from the military and sometimes police on their road to recovery.  

I have been informed by the OSISS management that their mandate is to supply peer support for the Canadian Military , veterans and their families. Should they not meet this mandate in regards to the growing number of RCMP members and veterans seeking help they will have to close that door in order to comply with this mandate.  This can be confirmed by contacting the OSISS management.

Why does OSISS save lives and families?  OSISS was a big stabilizing factor in dealing with my situation with PTSD which involved thoughts of suicide, extreme anger and hostility and also prevented my wife and children from leaving me which would have ended my life.  OSISS peer support along with the right medical help greatly assisted me on my road to recovery and to become an OSISS volunteer in 2006 which was my opportunity to give back to the program.

OSISS peer support encourages injured soldiers who isolate themselves in the basements of their homes, to come to these non judgemental peer support groups which are located all across Canada in the major centers and military bases. Self isolation is a big problem when suffering from PTSD and socializing with peers in the same situation helps to discourage this isolation and the feeling of being alone in your personal hell.  I know because prior to joining OSISS in 2004 I also isolated my self in the attic room of my home. This is not a good thing and has and continues to happen to injured RCMP officers and veterans and has been the case for a very very long time. Not a good thing and does not  promote recovery.

Just recently an injured military veteran was contemplating suicide by police and I became aware of this and followed the OSSIS volunteer training protocols which resulted in this injured veteran to get access to the right medical help and of course support through the OSISS program.  This injured soldier and is now doing much better and is stabilized.  An RCMP spouse recently contacted myself and needed help as well as for her  children who were traumatised by a violent incident that took place as a result of her RCMP spouse that beat her and pointed his service sidearm in the direction of her and children. Is this a cry for help? This story has been the subject of news media attention and is public knowledge.  Again I followed the OSISS protocol learned in my volunteer training and now she and her kids are now part of the OSISS Family Peer Support program.  She gave an interview to Global National News and the link is as follows about her story as well as the RCMP documents indicating that  the plans by the RCMP to not adopt the OSISS peer support program has been officially scraped. Why?

Just recently in British Columbia another incident disturbing incident involved an off duty RCMP drug enforcement officer who discharged several rounds from his service side arm in his house with his family there. Is this another cry for help? I bet it is.
Another preventable suicide which took place recently in Richmond British Columbia involved the suicide of an RCMP Cpl by the name of Ken Hinds  as a result of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Rarely do RCMP officer make public statements without the consent of the RCMP management but an RCMP Staff Sergant did and provided a statement to a Global National TV News reporter. The link to the news clip is as follows;

In this interview global National news confirmed through documents from the RCMP that all plans to implement a peer support program have been officially scraped.  The other very important evidence that PTSD is a serious problem in the RCMP is the interview of Psychiatrist Dr. Greg Passe from the BC Operational Stress Injury Clinic confirmed that the RCMP due to their constant work with the general public are confronted with approx 150 critical incidents of which anyone can result in an RCMP officer getting PTSD and  are more prone to getting PTSD than the Canadian Military because of the constant exposure to these numerous critical incidents day in day out for their entire service.

Another Globe National News release is an interview with a former RCMP officer in regards to the RCMP needing to change the existing culture because like himself and what happened to myself  (not uncommon) we were mocked and perceived as week links. This mocking from my supervisor and a second one from another unit  was the catalyst for me in contemplating suicide. Ignorance and lack of education which is the responsibility of the Harper Government to fund this aspect of occupational stress injuries to build awareness and to break down the stigma attached to an officer suffering from PTSD.,+says+retired+officer/video.html?v=2211019164#video

This is not the normal behaviour for professional police officers but it is happening and as far as I am concerned Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is starting to break through the RCMP managements hard fought effort to give the impression to the public that all is well in the RCMP who guard the RCMP reputation vigilantly but at what cost?  An  RCMP management  spokesman has publicly stated they have programs in place to encourage a healthy work environment for the RCMP members.  Considering the latest of a string of bad news for the RCMP management is a class action lawsuit by a former female  RCMP officer claiming sexual harassment while working in the RCMP  a result of not doing enough to promote a healthy environment.  Is this behaviour linked to PTSD which I can personally say turns a person to be angry and nasty. Is there a relationship here? What will be the cost to the Government as a result of this?

The RCMP management have also alluded to having peer support which is not true  in the case of the  status quo RCMP officers doing the job in Canada.  I am providing proof that will  confirm that there  is no official peer support program in the RCMP for occupational stress injuries for the serving members.  

The reality is those RCMP members who have been diagnosed with PTSD are being subjected to the worse thing possible and that is isolation. They go like I did before joining OSISS from a life of isolation to the doctor back to isolation, back to the doctor which is a never ending cycle. Isolation is the worst thing and the OSISS management can confirm this simply by asking them to give you the Auditor General and your staff a presentation about OSISS and how successful the program is and that it prevents suicides.
MY complaint is that Prime Minister Harper, The Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews and the RCMP management in particular the former Commissioner Mr. Elliot have been negligent in providing the funding needed to deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other OSI’s in the RCMP. Mr. Harper, Vic Toews, Commissioner Elliot know that PTSD exists in the RCMP and has for a very long time.  They know and have always known like the Canadian Military knew it was a problem within their ranks in early 2002 and requested the funding to deal with it which they received.  
The Canadian Military were in fact  funded in dealing with the problem which resulted in the creation of the OSISS program by Lt. Col. Stephan Grenier along with an aggressive educational program to change the culture of denial within the military which is also very prevalent in the RCMP and remains to date.

The culture of denial I speak of  is at all levels. Denial by the RCMP management because they do not or will not provide the funding for dealing with PTSD right down to the unit commander whose position is that there is nothing wrong in his unit when in fact a subordinate is showing signs that he or she needs to get checked out for PTSD and is struggling showing obvious red flags.  

Denial by the RCMP member themselves that there is something wrong, denial in the form of not being perceived as a weak link which often results in an individual being scapegoated,  denial that there is something wrong and its just another bad day because of concern  for loosing his or her job  because of a  mortgage to pay , a family to support and to keep a roof over their heads. What is the human cost of denial and the stigma of PTSD within the RCMP?
In June of 2006 the RCMP Health and Occupational Safety branch of the RCMP provided a needs assessment report (copy attached) recognizing and recommending the OSISS program for the RCMP. The OSISS program was studied up to the time of this report and the value of the program was recognized as well as the need to deal with Occupational Stress Injuries like PTSD. Very well written and self evident.  No funding by the Harper Government or the RCMP management.  Nothing was done.

To date their are approx. 1900 RCMP officers diagnosed with PTSD and approx. 9000 disabled RCMP veterans of which a good portion are disabled due to occupational stress injuries like PTSD. How many active RCMP officers and those that have retired with undiagnosed PTSD and I shudder to think of the numbers.  How many PTSD related suicides have taken place since the Canadian Military were funded in regards to dealing with PTSD? The RCMP will not release the statistics or never bothered to collect these statistics. No one knows which is a crime in itself because those statistics like that of the 1900 RCMP officers diagnosed with Occupation Injuries i.e. PTSD will reflect I am sure an unacceptable percentage. These statistics need to become transparent in regards to the truth and the fact that Dr. Passe has indicated that PTSD is more prevalent in the RCMP due to the nature of the their duties and exposure to violence and  human carnage of all kinds.
In May of 2008 I met with then Minister of Veterans Affairs Greg Thompson to express my concerns in regards to the implementation of the OSISS programs and the VIP program for disabled RCMP veterans that the Canadian Military has had for a long time and has been in existence since 1982. I followed that conversation with my letter to him (attached).

Minister Thompson’s reply to me was through Commissioner Elliot which he stated and I quote;

“With respect to the Operational Stress Injury Social Support Program, you may wish to know that the RCMP is actively engaged in examining the application of this Program as an enhancement to the benefits and services which are currently available to disabled RCMP members and veterans. I wish to assure you that, as Commissioner of the RCMP, I am committed to advancing the well-being of both our serving and retired members.”
Yours sincerely,
William J.S. Elliot

Studying OSSIS? It had already been studied and recommended in the June 2006 RCMP Needs Assessment report submitted by the RCMP Occupational Health and Safety Branch.  How many preventable RCMP members and veteran suicides not to forget the traumatised RCMP members families have taken place since June 2006?

On October 8, 2008  I sent a letter to Commissioner Elliot concerning the liabilities that the RCMP could face should nothing be done about Occupational Stress Injures such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  (copy Attached).  I used myself as an example as to how I was becoming a liability to the public, my fellow officers and myself and had to withdraw several times in regards to doing mobile surveillance work. I was fearful of hurting or killing a member of the public because of the undiagnosed PTSD was impairing my judgment and my head was simply not in the game. I did the right thing but was mocked at work to the point of suicide

My letter to Commissioner Elliot ended with the following;
“Ultimately Sir, you the Commissioner of the RCMP, have been tasked to make changes in the culture within the RCMP management for the betterment of the front line serving officers.  It is time for the RCMP management to realize that RCMP officers are human-beings no different than soldiers within the Canadian Armed Forces and that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is not just an issue or injury specifically related to the Canadian Military.

Sir, I will not be silent on this issue as long as the RCMP continues to send volunteers overseas and are reluctant to properly take care and support those that return injured with Post Traumatic Stress disorder and other OSIs.  The time to deal with this is now by becoming a partner in the OSISS program and not when some PTSD related human tragedy hits the headlines which could have been prevented.

Eric Rebiere  (Former CST. RCMP 37515 LSGC and Military Veteran
CSAT Member

Number of posts : 81
Location : Bath Ontario
Registration date : 2010-10-08

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