A Canadian soldier sheds a tear during the last Remembrance Day ceremony after troops ended their combat mission there in July at Kandahar Air Field, November 11, 2011.
Credits: REUTERS/Ryan Remiorz/Pool
This week, opposition parties hammered Department of National Defence cuts after unions representing employees said a mental health unit in the department would be shut down and more than a dozen employees would be axed.
Canadian Forces personnel said some employees within the DND received letters indicating their positions could be affected, but a review is still underway.
"We haven't reached a final determination yet," said Rear Admiral Andrew Smith at a press conference.
DND figures released this week are contributing to outrage among critics.
In 2011, 19 soldiers took their lives, compared to 12 the previous year. In 2001 - when Canada began its role in the Afghanistan war - 10 soldiers died by suicide.
But the Canadian Forces Health Services said the numbers aren't as extreme as they appear.
"Because of the nature of our population, male regular force suicides have to be grouped over a five-year period to be statistically and scientifically valid," said spokeswoman Colleen Boicey, adding there's been "no statistically significant change observed in the suicides" since 1995.
Smith, meanwhile, says the military is committed to improving the situation for soldiers who suffer from physical and mental battle scars.
"We have moved mountains in terms of casualty support in general, mental health in particular," Smith said.
He says the system isn't perfect but officials look to improve it "every single day."
Canada's top soldier also made an appearance at the news conference, and said he welcomes scrutiny on the issue.
"I appreciate the coverage and the interest that's in the media today because it pertains to our wounded, our ill and our injured," said General Walt Natynczyk.
Natynczyk said one area the military can improve is wait times.
Some soldiers say they have waited months to receive psychiatric care, but the department says soldiers will be treated by a team of doctors even if they're waiting for a full psychological assessment.