Soldier seeking support for PTSD 'disgusted' after he was casually offered euthanasia by Veterans Affairs employee
The veteran's family said that the unprompted offer of MAID disrupted his progress and has been harmful to his family’s wellbeing
CANADA: A Veterans Affairs Canada employee has provided medical aid in dying advice to a Canadian Forces veteran who suffered from traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Last week, VAC acknowledged in a statement that medical aid-in-dying was improperly provided to the veteran in one case. According to a Global News report, after the former soldier expressed displeasure with the notion of medical aid in dying, the agency promised that the necessary administrative steps would be taken to rectify the incident.
The former soldier reportedly called VAC for PTSD treatment when the employee brought up the subject of medical euthanasia, without being asked. The idea reportedly startled the former soldier. According to his family, who spoke with Global News, the veteran had been making progress in his mental and physical recovery and felt abandoned by the organization responsible for assisting veterans.
Sources close to the veteran said he and his family were "disgusted" by the conversation and felt betrayed by the agency mandated to assist veterans. The sources said the veteran was seeking services to recover from injuries suffered in the line of duty and had been experiencing positive improvements in his mental and physical health. They say the unprompted offer of MAID disrupted his progress and has been harmful to the veteran’s progress and his family’s wellbeing.
Since the ex-soldier's encounter with the employee, there have been concerns that the conversation may not have been an isolated incident. This has led to inquiries about how often the organization has provided or mentioned MAID to people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. After being criticized several times for the incident, the organization called the ex-military man to apologize. The organization stated that it sincerely regretted everything that happened.
Canada approved MAID in 2016, and some changes were made to the law in 2021 to clarify which people are eligible for treatment. Starting in 2023, people struggling with mental health issues and distress will also be able to use MAID. However, VAC, an organization responsible for assisting a group of people potentially at increased risk for suicide, is not authorized to discuss MAID with veterans. "Medical assistance in dying counseling is not a service provided by VAC " states VAC.
For military members and former soldiers, the Canadian government introduced a new suicide prevention policy in 2017. The prevention policy provided more treatment options and resources. Policymakers identified several strategies, including training health care workers on how to respond to suicide risk signals.