Flashback: Body of 130th soldier killed in Afghanistan comes home | Afghan front lines take mental toll on military and RCMP | 3 new deaths in Afghanistan push Canadian toll to 101 | Post-traumatic stress disorder’s hidden scars
October 9, 2009
The number of former Canadian soldiers receiving disability pensions for psychiatric stress injuries is now more than five times what it was when troops first arrived in Afghanistan, new figures from the Department of Veterans Affairs show.
The total number of successful disability claims for mental injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder, has risen to 11,888.
That’s up from 2,137 in 2002, in the early days of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan, with 843 successful new claims in the past year.
The Department of Veterans Affairs told CBC News that not all those injuries are new. Last year, 60 per cent of Canadian Forces veterans who applied for assistance had incurred their injury at least 10 years earlier.
“[The department] hopes the rising numbers indicate CF members and veterans are more aware of operational stress injuries and comfortable coming forward for assistance,” Department spokeswoman Janice Summerby said.
StÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â©phane Grenier, the military’s special adviser on operational stress injuries, said increased educational efforts have encouraged soldiers to come forward.
He said it’s also clear that the impact of the Afghanistan mission has been steep and will continue for years after the troops come home.
“We need to support these people way after the end of the mission,” Grenier said.
“A physical injury appears right away. A psychological injury may only appear five, six, or 10 years down the line. So all the support systems we put in place now cannot shut down the day we pull out of Afghanistan.”
The military has committed $98 million to increase the number of mental health workers in the Canadian Forces, and just over half of that money has been spent.
The military has also recently opened five new trauma centres across Canada.
Psychiatric stress injuries
Number of soldiers who’ve received disability pensions, 2002 to 2009:
- 2002: 2,137
- 2003: 3,501
- 2004: 4,894
- 2005: 6,491
- 2006: 8,385
- 2007: 10,272
- 2008: 11,045
- 2009: 11,888
Source: Veterans Affairs
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