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Care for Military Sexual Trauma Survivors of the Canadian Armed Forces - Facilitating access to adequate care and benefits
Abstract: Analysis of the current situation and recommendations to Veterans Affairs Canada to ensure that Military Sexual Trauma Survivors dealing with physical or mental injuries receive adequate care and benefits
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Recommendations - Summary
As it pertains to DND
- Train JPSU staff about VAC and DND services for victims of sexual assault and harassment;
- Add an optional military sexual trauma (MST) screening at the end of a deployment and when releasing (as done in the American military);
- Provide peer support for men and women with MST, or include MST in the already existing OSISS peer support programs;
- Ensure the security of individuals and families on the base from a high risk individual during a legal process through screening, training and monitoring
- Create an online video campaign (similar to the video campaign done to end stigma about asking for mental health in the military) using currently serving personnel who successfully reported an offense and were able to still pursue their military career;
- The Sexual Misconduct Response Centre (SMRC) should also provide services to ex-military members and offer more than a phone line and referral services;
- Since many of us were force to release from the military after a sexual assault, we recommend that you include released members in your surveys to have a more representative result of the situation.
As it pertains to DND and VAC
- Add information on services / benefits for Military Sexual Trauma (MST) in CAF transition/release procedures;
- Offer the leaving kit package and MST screening service to all reservists with or without deployment experience;
- Create a Response Team and a website similar to the VA (USA), which provides information on VAC services, the FCC and military NGOs for MST;
- Incorporate military sexual assault in the CF-98 injury report process to help track injuries and to facilitate possible VAC benefits and support requests;
- Request MST victims inputs for high level decision and incorporate selected MST victims in an advisory committee (for DND and Veterans Affairs initiatives);
- Invite ex-military to participate in MST research;
- Release funds to provide in-person support to victims who have to undergo medical examinations, to make a statement at VAC, to make a deposition or identify a person at the MPs;
- Include MST support services for men and LGBTQ+;
- Give selected community organizations knowledge of military law, military NGO, VAC services and events for veterans;
- Delegate an entity responsible to coordinate and monitor support for victims and act as an advocate for victims involved in the complaint process or an investigation;
- Widen the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre (SMRC) scope to include ex-military dealing with an MST.
As it pertains to VAC
- Extend OSI clinic services to men and women who have had a non-operational MST;
- Create support groups for MST in the OSI clinics;
- Create a VAC process similar as the one in the American military to help reduce the burden of proof to obtain long term services and benefits for Military sexual trauma i.e. believe in good faith the victim if his/her career indicates a sudden change of function, attitudes, sickness etc.
- Consider sexual assaults on military staff, perpetrated by military personal, on military property, but during off-working hours as a work-related injury (ex.: walking to your car after work);
- Consider the impact of an MST on the victim`s work environment and career progression when assessing the connection with military service (not just the time and place of the incident but the ripple effects and harassment after the occurrence as well).
- Inform MST victims who have already released about current and new services available to them.