Some soldiers at the Petawawa military base have claimed mental health and other problems to increase their financial payments from the federal government, Canadian Forces health specialists have warned.
A team that examined the operation of the mental health clinic on base observed “that an increasing number of members are presenting with the intention of receiving compensation and a medical discharge in mind.”
“The CAF (Canadian Armed Forces) can be said to have ‘incentivized illness’ with its current pay structure for members on medical leave versus what volunteer or retired members can expect,” the assessment for seniors came out. directors of 2 Field Ambulance. aggregate.
He noted that there is a widespread culture for soldiers to ensure they have medical and mental health benefits, as many soldiers who become veterans continue to live in the Ottawa Valley “where other jobs with similar compensation are scarce. “All of this contributes to a sick population.”
“Several doctors noted that the Petawawa rumor suggests ‘making sure your MH (mental health) care involves psychiatry involvement, as this increases payments,’” the May 2022 assessment noted.
But the team also noted that there were an increasing number of soldiers suffering from mental health problems due to the high operational tempo faced by troops stationed in Petawawa. The isolated location also makes life difficult for military families, which in turn affects the health of soldiers.
Also contributing to the increased demand for mental health services at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa is the increased number of military sexual trauma cases.
This newspaper requested comment from the Canadian Forces on January 31. But officials in the office of Geneviève Binet, assistant deputy minister of public affairs, repeatedly requested that the publication of this story be delayed, promising several times that comment would be provided. No comment was provided prior to publication.
The evaluation team also found that mental health clinic staff were overworked or exhausted. Morale was low and there were not enough staff to care for a larger number of patients.
Military officers who analyzed the situation suggested working with CFB Petawawa management to resolve the problem.
Also contributing to burnout was a feeling among healthcare staff that their efforts were not valued or appreciated. Additionally, staff felt they were blamed for suicides among military personnel on the base.
It was also noted that the complexity of cases faced by the mental health clinic has increased significantly. “Given its isolated and generally poorly served location, there are significant challenges in recruiting experienced staff,” the assessment adds.
Despite the challenges, the evaluation team had high praise for those who work at CFB Petawawa’s mental health clinic. “Reviewers were really impressed by the passion and commitment the staff demonstrated to customer service in the conversations we had with them,” the report adds.
It was noted that the numerous suicides that have occurred in recent years at CFB Petawawa weigh heavily on the doctors. It was also noted that the clinic did not have any formal procedures to support staff negatively affected by these suicides.
According to the evaluation team, military personnel who come to the clinic with the goal of obtaining compensation and a medical discharge from the Canadian Forces can consume considerable resources. “Sometimes this is because they are unwell, but it is not uncommon to have people who are dissatisfied until they have a certain diagnosis in their file,” the team noted. “Sometimes relatively healthy people can consume more resources than very sick people.”
Another problem facing the mental health clinic is that it takes a long time for military members to be discharged. “The increased care needs that the clinic is being asked to address obviously presents a significant challenge given already scarce resources,” the evaluation team concluded. “‘Do more with less’ remains the primary message doctors hear.”
The evaluation team recommended better interaction with CFB Petawawa leaders as a way to address those issues.
David Pugliese is an award-winning journalist who covers the Canadian Forces and military issues in Canada. To support his work, including exclusive subscriber-only content, sign up here: ottawacitizen.com/subscribe