Fighting the PTSD Battle

Cpl. Valerie Tremblay, an army medic, administers to a young patient at a frontier clinic in Mala Mahmed Khil, Afghanistan, 2004. (CP PHOTO/Stephen Thorne)

Cpl. Valerie Tremblay, an army medic, administers to a young patient at a frontier clinic in Mala Mahmed Khil, Afghanistan, 2004. (CP PHOTO/Stephen Thorne)

Listen

On this Remembrance Day edition of White Coat Black Art, we honour the medics and counselors who are fighting to heal psychic wounds that came from tending to injured soldiers and civilians.

A 2013 report published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that fourteen percent of Canadian Forces who served in Afghanistan were diagnosed with a mental health disorder and eight percent have PTSD. 

One of those is retired Master Corporal Mark Verrall, a forty-one year old medic whose twenty-four year career included stints in Bosnia and Dubai as well as two tours of duty in Afghanistan.  He tells us about his PTSD and the traumatic event that triggered it.  He also tells us that when he first tried to tell his supreriors about his problems the message he got back was "suck it up" and move on.

Dr. Stephen Xanakis, a psychiatrist and retired Brigadier General with the US Army says PTSD is so rampant among medics and other veterans that it's become a public health problem and a military disgrace.

Brian also remembers the life of Jamie McKinley, a New Brunswick man who fought a losing battle both with brain cancer and a province that refused to foot the bill for Avastin, an experimental drug that might have prolonged his life.

Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Submission Policy

Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that comments are moderated and published according to our submission guidelines.