Manitoba

Manitoba vet critical of feds' $200M mental health pledge

A Manitoba veteran is questioning the timing and motives behind the federal government's Sunday announcement it will be pledging $200 million to mental health services for veterans and military personnel.

Glen Kirkland calls pledge 'damage control,' questions timing of federal government announcement

Glen Kirkland served in Afghanistan and called the federal government's $200 million pledge to improve military mental health services a political move to placate the public. (CBC)

A Manitoba veteran is questioning the timing and motives behind the federal government's Sunday announcement it will be pledging $200 million to mental health services for veterans and military personnel.

Glen Kirkland, in wheelchair, was one of five soldiers injured in a direct fire explosion in September, 2008. Cpl. Kirkland, seen attending a ramp ceremony that month for fallen soldiers in Khandahar, Afghanistan, testified before a Parliamentary committee last week. (Tobi Cohen/Canadian Press)
Former corporal and designated marksman Glen Kirkland said he thinks the announcement is a strategic move by the government.

"For the conservative government now to say, 'We're going to give them $200 million for mental health,' it's a slap in the face," said Kirkland, who served in Afghanistan.

"Why hasn't this been going on before? Is it because there's an election coming up? I think so."

Kirkland suffered PTSD after he was wounded in 2008 while fighting overseas.

In 2013, controversy ensued when he was released from the military after speaking out in Parliament about the state of services for Canada's ill and injured soldiers.

On Sunday, he called the federal pledge opportunistic "damage control" because a report on military mental health issues is due out soon.

"My first reaction was 'damage control,' because in two days they're coming out with a massive report on the mental health issues that are going on in the military," said Kirkland. 

"It just seems very fortuitous timing for them to explain a $200 million implementation — that they did on a weekend. It gives you a sour taste in your mouth."

Kirkland lives in Brandon, Man. and is currently seeking a Liberal Party nomination in the next federal election.

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