On this Armistice Day, Occupy Newfoundland would remind our federal and provincial governments that supporting our troops and honouring the dead means more than poppies and ceremonies. It means leaving no veteran behind. We encourage Canadians to reflect on the true costs of war, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
PTSD, once known as “shell shock”, is a debilitating condition caused by periods of extreme uncontrollable stress, which may result in intrusive flashbacks, aggressive outbursts, or being easily startled and constantly “on edge”. The symptoms impede reintegration into professional and social situations. For example, infantry soldiers that have been exposed to the constant risk of improvised explosive devices in convoys may have difficulty navigating busy highways.
There is widespread discontent with how PTSD is being dealt with by the military. A special report by the Department of Defence/Canadian Forces (DND/CF) Ombudsman found that “... it is evident that significant numbers of CF members suffer from PTSD and, in too many instances, are released from the CF without having been diagnosed or treated for this illness.” (Systemic Treatment of Canadian Forces members with PTSD, Prevalence of PTSD with the CF : February 2002). A follow up report six years later found that “... the office continues to find cases where injured soldiers, sailors, airmen and airwomen, who have served their country with courage and dedication, are slipping through the cracks of an ad hoc system.” (News release: Ombudsman finds military members with mental health injuries falling through cracks of military system : December 17, 2008).
PTSD has a high rate of co-morbidity with depression and sleep disturbances. While PTSD may be caused by a variety of traumatic events, all persons with PTSD have one thing in common: periods of extreme terror that they cannot escape. A recent report on the Iraq War found that more American soldiers have died from suicide than have died in combat. (Losing the Battle; The Challenge of Military Suicide. Center for a New American Security : October 2011)
Occupy NL has been occupying Harbourside Park in St. John’s since October 15, 2011, and is building a community that embodies the societal values its members feel are eroding under the current economic system. In addition to a strong online social media presence with almost 2000 followers, Occupy NL works closely with labour groups and other non-profit organizations to raise awareness about growing social disparity and economic injustice. Occupy NL stands in solidarity with the global Occupy movement. To learn more visit our website at www.occupynl.ca