DAVID PUGLIESE OTTAWA CITIZEN: NEW VETERANS CHARTER

 

Veteran Mountie says Canadian officers not fully protected in overseas missions

 

 

By David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen

 

November 3, 2009

 

 

 

An RCMP veteran of international missions is warning that Canadian police injured in Afghanistan and on other foreign deployments could be left high and dry by the organizations that sent them overseas.

 

Eric Rebiere, a retired RCMP constable, was on Parliament Hill earlier this week to protest what he calls the lack of action by the Mounties in taking care of its veterans and in the coming days will be in front of an RCMP detachment in Kingston, Ont., with the same message.

 

His concern about the lack of services for police officers injured overseas is supported by Veterans Ombudsman Pat Stogran.

 

“They’re continuing to send RCMP overseas who come back and have virtually no support when they get back,” said Stogran, a retired Canadian Forces colonel who served in Afghanistan and in the former Yugoslavia.

 

The RCMP disputes those claims and says police officers serving overseas have a full range of services similar to those offered to the Canadian Forces. Those services include counselling for post traumatic stress syndrome, or PTSD, as well as full medical coverage.

 

“When they are back in Canada, should an issue arise such as PTSD, of course all our officers have all the health services they would require,” said RCMP Supt. Paul Young, director of the international peace operations branch. “We have had officers return with PTSD and they have been off for lengthy periods of time and every medical service required has been provided to them.”

 

He said similar services are available to RCMP injured overseas and the federal force also requires municipal and provincial police who serve overseas to have insurance covering long-term disability and accidental death benefits.

 

“The RCMP have full services of the Department of Veterans Affairs, just like the military does upon returning from a mission,” said Young, who served in Afghanistan. In addition, those services are available to officers injured in Canada, he added.

 

But Rebiere disputes that.

 

As an RCMP officer who has been diagnosed with PTSD after serving in missions in Croatia and Kosovo, he can attend counselling at organized clinics being supported by Veterans Affairs.

 

But since the RCMP opted not to come under the New Veterans Charter, legislation brought in during the spring of 2006, their veterans, are not covered for a number of services, Rebiere said Tuesday. “There is no job retraining, no paid schooling, nothing to get them back on the street to start a new life,” he explained. “We are not under the Veterans Charter.”

 

He said an RCMP officer, with less than 20 years service, injured overseas and who could no longer work for the force would only receive their pension contributions plus whatever disability pension Veterans Affairs determines.

 

The RCMP is also not part of the what is known as the operational stress injury social support program, which helps those with PTSD, he added. RCMP veterans have been trying, without success, to acquire services under a federal program that provides payment for snow shovelling, allowing disabled veterans to continue to stay in their homes longer.

 

There are 182 Canadian police serving on international missions. Most are from municipal or provincial forces, while roughly 30 per cent are from the RCMP. Of the 182, 39 are serving as police officers in Afghanistan. Those 39 include municipal, provincial, RCMP and retired police officers, Young said.

 

 

For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news or articles by David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen go to David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at:

 

http://communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/defencewatch/

 

 

 

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