General calls for better care for veterans

Lieut.-Gen. Peter Devlin



KINGSTON -- Canada's top soldier challenged the country's medical researchers Tuesday to develop a new way to deliver mental and physical health services to veterans in their community.

Speaking at the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research's third annual forum on military health, Lieut.-Gen. Peter Devlin, commander of the Canadian Army, said new ways are needed to make sure veterans and their families can access services in all areas of the country.

Devlin said Canada has built a reputation for leadership in battlefield medicine.

"We can do the same at home in our communities," Devlin said.

Devlin said researchers and policy makers need to create a new system to bridge the gaps between the military health system and provincial health care, adding that one of the biggest challenges to providing care to veterans is geography.

Reserve soldiers are particularly at risk, he said, because they live at home, work civilian jobs and volunteer for military service on a part-time basis.

They face the challenges of military service but largely live civilian lives often at some distance from military medical centres.

Some estimates indicate only half of the mental health injuries in veterans of Afghanistan have been diagnosed, Devlin said.

"New knowledge is needed," said Dr. Marc Fortin, chief executive officer of Defence Research and Development Canada and assistant deputy minister of national defence.

Fortin said the government has done military health research for years, but he added that academic networks such as the forum are important for spreading knowledge.

"None of us has the monopoly on research," he said.

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