Canadian troops get better care overseas: report News Staff
Date: Wed. Aug. 13 2008 9:11 AM ET

Inconsistent care across the country means wounded Canadian soldiers returning from overseas may not be getting the most effective care, according to a senate report.

The senate committee on national security and defence finds that care for soldiers on the ground at Kandahar Air Field and at transitional facilities such as the one in Landstuhl, Germany is exceptional. There is, however, a greater challenge with the long term care that is needed from the Canadian health care system once soldiers return home.
“We think our troops are being well-served if they have the misfortune of being wounded in terms of evacuation and immediate medical care,” Liberal Senator Colin Kenny, chair of the senate committee on national security and defence, told CTV’s Canada AM on Wednesday. However, he added, “we’re unhappy with what happens when you come home, and that’s a much larger problem.”

“It has to do with the uneven nature of medicare in Canada and how some provinces seem to excel at it and other provinces don’t provide the same quality of it.”

Canadian Gulf War veteran Sean Bruyea told CTV’s Canada AM the regional discrepancies are a longstanding problem, one that was compounded by the closure of the National Defence Medical Center, which set a national standard of care for soldiers.

“But it’s fundamentally unfair to push the wounded soldiers and already over-stressed families onto an already overburdened civilian health care system,” Bruyea says.

And he says it all comes down to money.

“There has to be some sort of inclusion for the long-term care costs of rehabilitation and psychological care for the soldiers when they’re in uniform and when they come out of uniform.”

For long-term care and rehabilitation, Kenny believes “The federal government should ensure there are regional centers, at a minimum, that would provide for the care and the rehabilitiation.”

A statement from the office of Defence Minister Peter MacKay says Canadian Forces Health Services is revitalizing its rehabilitation program, “developing centres of excellence on CF bases affiliated with nearby civilian providers.”
Reservists face greatest challenge

Kenny said the soldiers who face the toughest challenge are reservists, as they must often cope with rehabilitation without the support of their regiment.

He said regiments are like family and look after each other very well, but the very mobile nature of reservists poses a challenge.

“Some injuries (which are) more of a psychological or mental nature might manifest themselves six months later or eight months later, and your regimental family is too far from you to help, and that was a great concern that we had.”