Canadian Veterans Advocacy

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Recent PTSD-Driven Suicides of Four Canadian Soldiers - Service Dogs: Helpmates for Lives in Chaos

The Recent PTSD-Driven Suicides of Four Canadian Soldiers - Service Dogs: Helpmates for Lives in Chaos

Upcoming Documentary to Address Soldiers' Suffering and the Canine Solution

For Immediate release

Ottawa, Ontario, December 11, 2013: The recent Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) driven-suicides of four Canadian soldiers underscore the severity of "coming home from war" to an environment with little support for those suffering mentally and physically. This time of year is particularly difficult as these soldiers and their families are far removed from the idyllic "White Christmas" that's playing everywhere. With many case workers taking holidays, the resources so crucial to PTSD sufferers are in short supply as well.

Now that Canada's combat role in Afghanistan is winding down, a more responsible PTSD treatment program is urgently needed. According to a 2011 Parliamentary Report on PTSD and Mental Health in the Canadian Forces, between 25,000 and 35,000 soldiers are expected to be discharged over the next five years. Based on past diagnosis rates, as many as 2,750 of them will suffer from a severe form of PTSD. In a recent report, Canadian Military Ombudsman Pierre Daigle observed that the military's mental health treatment system is 15 to 22 per cent understaffed in some places.

Local producer Deborah Lewis has taken on the challenge of making "A Life of Thai", a documentary that hits home with the strong message: Our service men need help and they need it now in the form of their four-legged friends. It's becoming apparent that trained service animals (dogs and horses) can aid Veterans, RCMP and First Response Emergency Workers dealing with PTSD to cope with everyday situations; assist them in reconnecting with their family members; help reinstate their return to the workforce; and make a positive contribution to their community.

Veterans with service dogs have either reduced or completely eliminated the cocktail of medications used to treat their PTSD. "ZERO" Canadian Veterans that have service dogs have committed suicide.

The documentary will follow two veterans and their families before, during and after their introduction to a service dog. Interviews will be interspersed throughout the documentary that include the Veterans, their families; the Minister of Veterans Affairs, Hon. Julian Fantino; Medric Cousineau (a Veteran who walked from Nova Scotia to Ottawa with his service dog Thai to raise awareness); Kevin Berry, Veteran with Military Minds; Sylvain Chartrand, Veteran with Canadian Veterans Advocacy; MP Jim Karygiannis; Senator Romeo D'Allaire; among a number of other Veterans with PTSD that have service dogs or are service dog trainers.

Fundraising efforts to raise awareness of this "canine solution" in Canada, where 100% of all donations will go toward the documentary's financing are underway with a major push expected in the New Year to ensure the film's anticipated release in summer 2014. Donations can be made directly at


Media Contact: Kita Szpak, KS Communications, #613-725-3063

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

No comments:

Post a Comment