NDP Veterans Affairs critic initiates Parliamentary study to help current and future women veterans « Canada’s NDP

April 17, 2023 at 5:00 am  Federal, Politics

NDP MP says, if cultural change is to happen within organizations, women’s stories and experiences need to be heard

OTTAWA – On Monday, the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs will continue a first-of-its-kind study initiated by NDP Veterans Affairs Critic, Rachel Blaney who says more information must be collected about women’s unique experiences both during and after serving in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and the RCMP if more women are going to be recruited, and much-needed cultural changes are going to take place within those organizations.

“Women who served our country risked their lives every day to protect Canadians. But Liberal and Conservative governments have made no effort to understand what life is like for women veterans while they serve, and after they retire,” said Blaney. “For decades governments have done nothing to check in with women in the Canadian Armed Forces. We really don’t have a lot of information on how they suffer from physical and mental illnesses differently, or how best to support them once they leave their jobs.”

Blaney’s study will investigate the treatment of injuries and diseases that are more likely to affect women differently, the physical and mental health aspects of veteran women, the professional and economic challenges of life for veteran women, the retirement and long-term care process, and the initiatives developed in allied countries to support women veterans.

Blaney says this study could help improve veterans’ services and future recruitment practices. According to employment statistic from the RCMP in 2022, women still only account for slightly over 21 per cent of active officers. In the CAF, recruitment numbers are even more dire with women making up only 16 per cent of new enrollment for the same year.

“We are not going to see the cultural shifts in the CAF or the RCMP that are badly needed unless we listen to women veterans’ stories. How were they treated when they served? What particular challenges did they face? And what are their struggles in accessing services as veterans?” asked Blaney. “If we want thing to change for the better, we have to start by asking women with lived experience to tell us how.”

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“Veterans Affairs Canada has been the single greatest barrier to my recovery from PTSD because the department refuses to acknowledge the different ways that women experience and cope with pain, be it physical or mental. The two cannot be separated, yet VAC’s outdated policies designed by and for men are not inclusive of women’s specific needs. In effect, waiting for help is killing me. Stress is physically destroying my body one system at a time. I don’t have much more to lose, and women veterans have everything to gain by finally receiving the focus and attention of this massive study being done by this committee.”

  • Christine Wood, a former Air Force Reservist, survivor of military sexual trauma and longstanding veterans’ advocate

“The RCMP Veteran Women’s Council strongly supports the work of the Committee and in particular the proposed longitudinal study on the experience of women veterans in both the RCMP and the CAF to enable Parliament, its members and the public to better understand the challenges faced by veteran women and ultimately to find ways to satisfactorily address those challenges.”

  • Jane Hall, The Co-Chair of the RCMP Veterans Women’s Council

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