Supporting Families of Serving and Retired Members of the Canadian Armed Forces and First Responders Living with Post-Traumatic Stress is a report based on a roundtable convened by Medavie between Wounded Warriors Canada, the Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Vanier Institute of the Family that took place in February 2019. The report explores the challenges faced by families impacted by post-traumatic stress (PTS) experienced by first responders and serving or retired members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). Though there is a growing awareness of the risk of PTS and the potential of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), families often lack the support they need to both help their loved one and address the impact on their own health and their daily lives.
While PTSD is most often used in public discussion, categorizing it as a disorder means it is a clinically diagnosed condition. During the roundtable, and subsequently throughout this report, the concept of PTS is the focus, as it includes those who experience symptoms but may not have a formal diagnosis.
Families are often the first source of support an individual living with PTS will turn to and they can play a key role in ensuring their loved one receives care. Family members who may feel the impact of PTS on their lives include adult children, parents, siblings and spouses. They may need to adjust, adapt and respond to expanding and/or evolving roles at home and/or changing behaviours, moods and attitudes exhibited by their loved one. Individuals and families need tools to help them communicate their experiences, emotions and feelings with each other to address the impact that PTS is having on their lives.
Access to resources for mental health support across military and first responder communities varies, with more funding for programs aimed solely at the individual experiencing PTS. CAF has been developing nationally accessible programs for serving and retired members and, to an increasing degree, their families.
More information is available on the Vanier Institute’ s website at the Military and Veteran Families in Canada Initiative and the Canadian Military and Veteran Families Leadership Circle.
Published on August 27, 2019