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"Soldier who attempted suicide on fast-track for dismissal as DND..."

Navy_Pete

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Didn't see this posted anywhere else, from the CP via CBC
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/soldier-who-attempted-suicide-on-fast-track-for-dismissal-as-dnd-breaks-promise-1.2631754;

Soldier who attempted suicide on fast-track for dismissal as DND breaks promise
The Canadian Press Posted: May 04, 2014 3:32 PM MT Last Updated: May 04, 2014 4:07 PM MT

National Defence has done an about-face and revoked an offer that would have allowed a soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder, who spoke publicly last fall about his attempted suicide, the right to an extended release from the military.

Master Cpl. Kristian Wolowidnyk's story made headlines across the country in November when it was revealed he tried to take his own life after the army put him on the fast-track for dismissal.

The military backed down after his case became public, but just last week reversed itself and said he doesn't qualify for the program.

He was given the latest news last Tuesday by officials at the Edmonton Joint Personnel Support Unit, one of several centres across the country designed to get injured and ill soldiers back to their units or — more often — out of the military.

Wolowidnyk, and wife Michele, were told the offer for an extended release under the Integrated Transition Program was withdrawn and that the base surgeon had stated that there was no medical reason why he couldn't be either working or in school.

Michele Wolowidnyk, in a letter to Defence Minister Rob Nicholson and Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Tom Lawson, says that the base surgeon has never met her husband and that she believes the department was just stringing him along until the media attention died down.

"I question whether the intention was to allow Kristian to participate in the ITP program, or whether he was simply being led down the garden path and effectively silenced until the 'heat' from the media attention died down," she wrote in a letter dated May 2, 2014.

"I can assure you Kristian attempted suicide because he is very, very ill and had hit rock bottom at that point. In no small part due to having the prospect of having the only career he has ever known ripped away from him."

The case has re-emerged just as the Harper government prepares to commemorate the sacrifices of the Afghan war with a parade and special ceremony in Ottawa on May 9.

A spokeswoman for Defence Minister Rob Nicholson responded Sunday by underlining that the government and the military takes the "care of our ill and injured very seriously" and that significant investments have been made in new programs and therapies and staff.

But Johanna Quinney suggested the government won't interfere in the decision.

"The minister was assured by the military that every effort is being made to ensure a positive transition for this member," Quinney said in an email. "We expect that the military will help Master-Cpl. Kristian Wolowidnyk and his family every step of the way during this time."

Wolowidnyk, like other soldiers whose cases were documented last fall, wanted to stay in the military to at least the 10 year mark when he could qualify for an unreduced military pension.

The former combat engineer and Afghan war veteran is now unable to comment because, after all the public attention, he was compelled to sign the defence department's social media policy, which forbids criticism of the military and the joint personnel units in particular.

Before qualifying for an extended release on medical grounds, soldiers are required to take what's known as a complexity test, which helps rate their disability.

When the military first tried to bounce Wolowidnyk last fall, it refused to administer the test. But he insisted on taking it and when the results came back his case manager said he was not classified as "severely injured."

But a doctor handling his case a few months later pulled up the file to find the results did label him as "severely injured."

Wolowidnyk was asked to present a plan for his transition out of the military for a period of up to 36 months, but it was agreed he needed to seek treatment, which is now underway and lasts up to eight months.

In rejecting his treatment plan last week, Wolowidnyk was apparently reminded repeatedly that "he isn't an amputee,” something his wife says makes a mockery of the defence department's claim that "psychological injuries are being taken seriously and there is no stigma attached to them."

Last year, the country's former military ombudsman noted that 90 per cent of the soldiers assigned to defence joint support units end up being dismissed. Many of them face not only a battle for benefits, but are kicked out before qualifying for a fully indexed pension.

That has led the veterans community to charge that the government is trying to save money on the backs of injured soldiers. Others claim that the military institution views post traumatic stress as a contagion and does its best to get rid of it.

Nicholson has repeatedly said that no one is dismissed from the military until they are ready and have a plan to transition to civilian life.
 

ArmyGuy99

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Navy_Pete said:
Nicholson has repeatedly said that no one is dismissed from the military until they are ready and have a plan to transition to civilian life.
  :bullshit:

Nuff Said
 

Tibbson

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We've gotten to the point where once the letters PTSD are uttered the CF is damned either way.  Keep someone until they can have an unreduced pension and the govt spends large sums of money to fill positions with people who cannot work.  Release them and they are being heartless.  The Minister, being a politician, refuses to comment and he gets slammed.  Comment and its held to be gospel regardless of what Doctors may say.

There was another thread regarding troop reductions and someone noted how the Aussies (I believe) did it by first offering releases and suitable benifits to those who were injured or otherwise on a medical category before looking at those not performing up to standard and then everyone else.  Maybe some suggestions can be found in all of that to improve our system to the benifit of those in need.
 

Teager

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Schindler's Lift said:
We've gotten to the point where once the letters PTSD are uttered the CF is damned either way.  Keep someone until they can have an unreduced pension and the govt spends large sums of money to fill positions with people who cannot work.  Release them and they are being heartless.  The Minister, being a politician, refuses to comment and he gets slammed.  Comment and its held to be gospel regardless of what Doctors may say.

There was another thread regarding troop reductions and someone noted how the Aussies (I believe) did it by first offering releases and suitable benifits to those who were injured or otherwise on a medical category before looking at those not performing up to standard and then everyone else.  Maybe some suggestions can be found in all of that to improve our system to the benifit of those in need.

It's not just members with PTSD its ALL injured/ill that ALL go through the same crap. The government made a promise to this member and are now changing their minds on it. The Minister has made numerous comments that seem to contradict what is happening. Basically say one thing do another.

There also seems to be an issue with the fact that the member needs treatment that is expected to take up to 8 months so school or work may not be possible or maybe it is that's unknown. The member has now refused treatment as the article says so this could be because of the notice of release or some unknown reason. Either way the member is not receiving the help he needs.

I'd like to know how far from the 10 year mark this member is?

I'm also concerned about the Base Surg making a decision without meeting with the member. In my own case something similar has happened. New Base Surg comes I meet him and within the first 30 seconds is saying your all done. The Base Surg mentioned he "briefly" reviewed my file. How can someone make a decision in 30 seconds of meeting me and only briefly look at my file?

If I do receive a release and know I will but lets say receive it in the next 3 months and then given another 6 months to transition out I will be anywhere from 1 month to a few weeks from my 10 year mark. If that were to happen you can bet that I will be fighting for that 10 year mark.

I'd also like to point out that there are a lot that CAN work so large sums of money are not wasted. Yes, there are those with PTSD, injured/ill that can't work but you can bet they would rather BE at work.



 

Teager

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A bit more on this.

Opposition parties accused the Harper government of breaking its word, demanding the military show compassion for a soldier who attempted suicide last year and has been put back on the fast-track for dismissal.

Liberal defence critic Joyce Murray says the case involving Master Cpl. Kristian Wolowidnyk raises questions of integrity and honour.

“He served his country, fulfilled his promise, and now the government appears to be going back on theirs,” Murray said Monday.

He served his country, fulfilled his promise
“This sort of quiet reversal after the media attention has died down raises clear issues of good faith.”

The former combat engineer made headlines last November when it was revealed he tried to take his own life after the army began the process of giving him a medical discharge because of his post-traumatic stress disorder.

The military backed down when his case became public, but last week reversed itself and said he doesn’t qualify to remain in the military.

NDP defence critic Jack Harris said Wolowidnyk’s story is “heartbreaking” and he is not the only soldier being dismissed before qualifying for full benefits.

“They’re being dismissed with total disregard for their well-being after they’ve served the country,” Harris said.

Wolowidnyk and wife Michele were told at a meeting last Tuesday with the Edmonton joint personnel support unit that the offer for a longer stay with the military — made in the aftermath of public attention — was withdrawn because the base surgeon said there was no medical reason preventing the soldier from working or going to school.

“That’s ridiculous” given his post-traumatic stress, said New Democrat MP Christine Moore who is a nurse and served in the military.

Michele Wolowidnyk wrote a letter to Defence Minister Rob Nicholson and Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Tom Lawson last week, saying the base surgeon has never met her husband.

She accused the department of stringing her husband along until the media attention died down.

A spokeswoman for Defence Minister Rob Nicholson suggested on Sunday that the government would not interfere in the decision to release Wolowidnyk, who served in Afghanistan in 2009-10.

Justice Minister Peter MacKay, who spent six years in the defence portfolio, stood to answer questions in the House of Commons on Monday, saying there is an effort being made to help him transition.

They are choosing policy over people
“In fact, we are assured by the military that every effort is being made to respect his wishes and those of his family and that this transition is as smooth as possible for him,” said MacKay.

A veteran’s advocate, who resigned as a senior member of the Joint Personnel Support Unit in Eastern Ontario, condemned the reversal by National Defence.

Barry Westholm, who was a soldier for more than 30 years, says it’s a breach of the code of trust and integrity that soldiers live by.

Once an officer — or authorities — have made a promise, regardless of whether it’s in writing or not, the institution is bound to live up to it, he said.

In her letter, Michele Wolowidnyk wrote that her husband was reminded repeatedly that “he isn’t an amputee,” something she says makes a mockery of the Defence Department’s claim that psychological injuries are taken as seriously as physical wounds.

Westholm says he was floored by the statement.

“Wow. That is so, so demeaning. I can’t even begin to describe it,” he said. “They are choosing policy over people.”

Westholm made news last year when he ripped up his Conservative Party of Canada membership card in frustration over the continuing fight veterans face for services and benefits.

He said Wolowidnyk should file an immediate grievance within the military, a process that could put a temporary hold on his release. In addition, officers at the support unit in Edmonton could convene what’s called a “complex board,” where the particulars of his case could be discussed.

The board has the power to grant him another three years in the military, something that would take him up to the 10-year mark of service when he would qualify for an unrestricted pension.

In addition, the chief of defence staff could exercise his discretion and not sign his release papers.

If both of those options are not exercised, Westholm says, it’s clear the military is only interested in getting rid of Wolowidnyk.

http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/05/05/tories-accused-of-breaking-promise-to-soldier-battling-ptsd-after-military-puts-him-on-fast-track-for-dismissal/
 

Nemo888

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Harper will kill the Conservatives brand for a decade at this rate. Mulroney part 2. Throw him overboard before he drags everyone with him.  Being a douchebag is not a Conservative value.
 

George Wallace

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Nemo888 said:
Harper will kill the Conservatives brand for a decade at this rate. Mulroney part 2. Throw him overboard before he drags everyone with him.  Being a douchebag is not a Conservative value.

Really?  I find it so funny how Harper manages to micromanage so much these days.  Why throwing this guy under the bus, and another being released for PTSD, and some civilian in Windsor claiming PTSD for his time in the US Army and then RCR in Cyprus.....and so many more......Damn!  He must be like Ricochet Rabbit......He is everwhere....He  is everywhere. 





You have heard of Ricochet Rabbit, haven't you?
 

OldSolduer

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Nemo888 said:
Harper will kill the Conservatives brand for a decade at this rate. Mulroney part 2. Throw him overboard before he drags everyone with him.  Being a douchebag is not a Conservative value.
This has nothing to do with the PM. We really have no idea what is going on. All we have to go in is the media reports on this.

We have not seen any files on things a soldier or any others we have seen on here. We are speculating on things we have no insight on.

Maybe we should STFU on these kind of things.
 

Tibbson

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Jim Seggie said:
This has nothing to do with the PM. We really have no idea what is going on. All we have to go in is the media reports on this.

We have not seen any files on things a soldier or any others we have seen on here. We are speculating on things we have no insight on.

Maybe we should STFU on these kind of things.

Exactly.  I've been directly involved in a matter that was subject to an inquiry which was reported in the media.  What happened in the incident and what was discussed in the inquiry was often different then what was reported.  There were a number of days I sat at my kitchen table with a news report that didnt look at all like the corresponding day's transcripts from the inquiry.  No outright lies but the issues were often so badly slanted based on the reporters biases ( and in the case of one reporter, the subject of the book he was writing) that a reader could develop scholiosis.

We can all agree that there is an issue here of some degree but an accurate picture cannot be obtained through media reports that only include, at best, half the story.
 

blackberet17

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Would the Base Surg be making a recommendation to D Med Pol for release of a member? And said recommendation would be based on his/her review of the mmbr's service med docs, and per a prior recommendation from the examining physician and the recommended PCat for the mmbr?

I don't know the process for a 3(b) release. QR&Os give a simple enough description, but c'est tout!
 

stokerwes

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Being in the process of medical release, because of an OSI, I have nothing but good things to say of any interactions I have had with all involved. Be it on the medical or administrative side. Is the process a bit scary? Yes, but I am finding that being proactive and seeking treatment and asking a lot of questions is working fairly well. The system is in place although it is not perfect it does a fairly good job. Each case and individual is different but I have faith that the system will work if administered properly. If anyone feels they are being treated unfairly there are many other avenues, other than going to the media, that can be used to rectify the situation.
My opinion on going to the media is that in the end you will not have the desired outcome for your situation. Reporters, not all mind you, will want to make the issue as sensational as it can be to draw in as large of an audience as they can.  And most times you that person ends up becoming political fodder for whatever party that wants to try and discredit another party.
From my discussions with medical and administrative personnel you can be fast tracked for release but the member has to initiate this. I am unsure if this mechanism can be engaged unless the member agrees to it, I hope that is the case.
There is much room for improvement in the system on the DND and VAC sides of the house. And I think it will come, it will take a long time though.
I hope this soldier gets the treatment he needs and he and his family work through this together.
 

Staff Weenie

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Trying to look at this objectively, and without emotion, here is what may be happening:

The Integrated Transition Plan (ITP) is for those personnel who, by nature of their injury or illness, are deemed to be Seriously Ill/Injured, and Complex.  Complex usually means that their health care needs require a multidimensional approach, and that there may be issues which impact the ability to smoothly transition their care to the civilian system, and currently impact their ability to undertake transition activities in preparation for an eventual release.  The decision on whether an injured soldier should be recommended for an ITP comes from the clinicians - typically it comes to the IPSC from the Nurse Case Manager.  Prior to the ITP Board, the member needs to be seen by VAC, SISIP, and the PSO - so that a the best possible plan can be created to maximize the time left in the CAF, and which organization covers what upon release.  An ITP can recommend a standard 6 month release, or that the member be kept in the CAF for up to a maximum of three years.

What needs to be considered, is that soldiers can and do recover.  If this is the case, and a member is no longer clinically considered Seriously Ill and/or Complex, then there's no need for the ITP process, and a standard 6 month release can be enacted.  It's also possible if there is a decline in health to put the ITP back on the table.

The other times an ITP can be cancelled is if the member is non-compliant (i.e. they refuse to come in to meet VAC, PSO, and SISIP), or it can even be cancelled at their request.

In this case, if the member's health has improved to the point that his clinical team is noting that he can indeed go to school or work, then perhaps they were correct in cancelling the ITP.

Whatever each of us may privately think, there is absolutely no written provision that CAF members have a right to be kept in until they reach 10 years of pensionable service.
 

McG

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Staff Weenie said:
.... there is absolutely no written provision that CAF members have a right to be kept in until they reach 10 years of pensionable service.
And it would not be sustainable to adopt such a standard.  We could consider other options such as lowering the threshold of years for unreduced pensions on medical release; maybe allow members with 7 to 10 years to choose between the pension or the return of contributions.

Navy_Pete said:
Nicholson has repeatedly said that no one is dismissed from the military until they are ready and have a plan to transition to civilian life.
  :bullshit:

Nuff Said
Is it?  Some individuals, finding themselves recently disabled, will never feel fully ready to move on.  The "golden standard" cannot be just individual's perception that they are ready or not.  Fear (which is justified) will keep some people clinging to that secured monthly pay check long past the point where they could have successfully stepped off on their own.  Maybe for some, the fear of leaving is enough to play public sympathy in hopes of hanging around a little longer.  In some cases we may need to balance the individual's fear with some "firm love" and push them along faster than their comfort level but at a pace they can in fact manage.

I don't know the case discussed in this thread, so I can't say anything specifically.  However, I would not assume away the possibility of there being more to the story than big-bad military is abusing the troops.
 

dapaterson

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MCG said:
And it would not be sustainable to adopt such a standard.  We could consider other options such as lowering the threshold of years for unreduced pensions on medical release; maybe allow members with 7 to 10 years to choose between the pension or the return of contributions.

Mmebers retiring with under two years get a return of contributions.

Members released medically with under 10 years may receive the commuted value of their pension as two amounts - one a locked in rrSP, the second amount taxable in their hands.
 

Teager

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MCG said:
And it would not be sustainable to adopt such a standard.  We could consider other options such as lowering the threshold of years for unreduced pensions on medical release; maybe allow members with 7 to 10 years to choose between the pension or the return of contributions.

The 10 years would not even be an issue if the lump sum from VAC had never been introduced. For members with 10+ years its not to bad getting a lump sum and collecting a partial or full pension. The ones with the problem are usually under the 10 year mark.
 

stokerwes

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Teager said:
The 10 years would not even be an issue if the lump sum from VAC had never been introduced. For members with 10+ years its not to bad getting a lump sum and collecting a partial or full pension. The ones with the problem are usually under the 10 year mark.

Agreed the lump sum is great if your in your twilight years. But the younger folks, especially ones with less than ten years, are fearful of the future because although it seems like a large sum of money at first the lump sum isn't really that much money if you have to try and live on it.  A lifelong pension from VAC for injuries would alleviate some of the stress members are feeling about the unknown and how they are going to provide for their families. Having an OSI only makes this situation seem very bleak. In my situation I would be receiving the maximum monthly pension that would also include my spouse and children, sadly this not the case for me. You, at least I did, do feel a sense of abandonment after receiving the award, even though I don't think that is the actual case.
Yes there are other income supplements available but most people don't have the fight left in them after having to prove their case the first time for a lump sum award, only to have to begin the whole process over again to try to collect LTD from SISIP or PIA from VAC.
Streamlining both processes would benefit all involved. It would take away some of the stress eligible members and  DND and VAC would be getting less publicity on this matter.
Keeping people in just so they can get a pension though is not a feasible option. Perhaps being able to collect pensions after two years of service, although the amount would be small it would be something.
 

Nudibranch

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blackberet17 said:
Would the Base Surg be making a recommendation to D Med Pol for release of a member? And said recommendation would be based on his/her review of the mmbr's service med docs, and per a prior recommendation from the examining physician and the recommended PCat for the mmbr?

I don't know the process for a 3(b) release. QR&Os give a simple enough description, but c'est tout!

Technically the member's primary health care provider who does the member's medical makes the recommendation. But there are levels of review, including a second signature, and the BSurg. It's generally not a quick process, there would be specialist (in the case of PTSD, mental health) input, and unless the member is pushing for a quick release, generally at least 12 months on a TCAT, if not more, before a PCAT is considered.
D Med Pol doesn't decide to release either, they assign permanent limitations. DMCA makes the release or retention decision based on these limitations. Again, a long process, and if the member improves enough to reach U of S at any time during the process, they can appeal.

It's rather frustrating how the "until member is ready to release" has been mangled in the media, and certainly sound bites from politicians don't help. The "ready" is not meant to be until mbr says ok, I'm all ready (release means end of employment - why would anyone *ever* say they're ready if it was up to them?) . It's when everything is in place for a successful transition into the civi medical system. And PTSD, while a complicated illness for the individual, is not really all that complicated a transition into the civi med system.

If a member has an agenda, such as, oh, staying in until they reach 10 years' service come hell or high water, they can certainly throw quite a wrench into their transition plan.
 
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