Memorial held for latest soldier to take his own life
Pressure grows to provide more support to veterans in crisis following latest military suicide
There was a solemn farewell in Central Blissville, N.B., on Monday as the latest Canadian soldier to take his own life was remembered.
Master Cpl. Tyson Washburn, 37, died in Pembroke, Ont., in mid-March as the most recent in a long list of soldiers to commit suicide in recent months, many after struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Washburn joined the Canadian Armed Forces as a cook in 2006 and was deployed to Afghanistan from July to October 2010.
While his family and friends said goodbye in New Brunswick, pressure grew elsewhere in the country to provide more support to veterans in crisis.
Washburn's death came just three days before the last plane load of Canadian soldiers returned home from Afghanistan to promises from government and military leaders that soldiers who fought would be taken care of back home.
But for many who fought, including former soldier Bruce Moncur, those words rung hollow.
"The biggest issue here is the triple-D policy: delay-deny-die policies," said Moncur. "Soldiers are given denials and delays until they get frustrated, throw up hands their hands and don't pursue the services they need."
Moncur was almost killed when an American attack plane opened fire on a group of Canadian soldiers in 2006. He lost five per cent of his brain and had to learn to read and write from scratch.
He has been fighting for a pension ever since and is fighting for others now too.
Moncur is part of a group that recently founded the Afghanistan Veteran's association to support soldiers because the Canadian government is failing them, he said.
"It's a disgrace," said Moncur. "If the government feels they don't have a moral obligation, well then I'm asking Canadians then if they feel they have a moral obligation and to do the job for the government for them."
Moncur said he hopes the association will soon have a chapter in every province, to help ensure soldiers and veterans have a place to turn if they feel abandoned.
Another Canadian Forces soldier, Cpl. Alain Lacasse, 43, committed suicide in his home last week in Valcartier, Que.
In December, Cpl. Sylvain Lelièvre was found dead in the basement of his residence after having taken his own life. Like Lacasse, Lelièvre participated in various missions abroad, including Bosnia and Afghanistan.
In November, three other Canadian veterans who had served in Afghanistan were found dead within in a week. They had taken their own lives.