National Defence to overhaul support units for wounded after review

OTTAWA -- National Defence is embarking on an overhaul of its oft-maligned support units for ill and injured soldiers, The Canadian Press has learned.

See Full Article

The re-organization was one of three recommendations made in an internal review of the Joint Personnel Support Unit (JPSU) system, which was delivered last September to the country's top commander, Gen. Jonathan Vance.

The assessment team, led by Brig.-Gen. David Anderson, identified myriad problems with the system, which is supposed to help physically and mentally wounded soldiers heal and return to their units -- or prepare for medical release.

His conclusions echoed earlier assessments by the Canadian Armed Forces Ombudsman in 2013 and that of the defence department's chief of review services, which studied the problems in 2015.

Soldiers have complained that the JPSUs and their subordinate Integrated Personnel Support Centres are chronically under-staffed, but there's also concern that those transferred into the organization lose the social support of their home combat units, frustrating both the unit and the soldiers.

Word of the planned overhaul was apparently poorly communicated and caused anxiety Thursday among a number units, most notably at Garrison Petawawa, Ont.

The reorganization, called the "hybrid option" in Anderson's report, puts the support centres under the command of individual formations and brigades.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan confirmed the reorganization is about to begin, but wouldn't discuss specifics, other than to say no centres would close and that caring for the wounded would remain a top priority.

"We'll be enhancing the capabilities because they do provide an important resource for our troops," Sajjan said.

A spokeswoman for National Defence said the restructuring of the administration will be ongoing and a final decision on how the new system will work has not been made.

"The whole point of the JPSU review is to improve service to soldiers who need it -- that is our bottom line," said Maj. Holly-Anne Brown.

Anderson's report, a copy of which was obtained by CP, said there are approximately 1,400 clients in the system and nearly 50 of the existing 297 staff positions at the centres are vacant.

On one base of 8,000 personnel, there is only one person manning the support centre where 160 injured soldiers are posted, the assessment noted.

Because the centres operate under a separate structure, the review team said base commanders often "hold a negative view of the JPSU structure, based primarily on their lack of understanding of the function and purpose of the JPSU."

Part of the reorganization is meant to address that, but the military is also fighting an uphill battle of optics among the troops it's trying to help.

"Derogatory terms are used by clients themselves to describe other clients who they perceive as being lazy or playing the system," said the report.

The review also recommends renaming the units to counter the stigma they currently carry.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • U.S. Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh denies 2nd sexual misconduct allegation

    World News CBC News
    The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing Thursday for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, a woman who says he sexually assaulted her as a teenager, as second claim of sexual misconduct emerged from another woman. Source
  • Quebec party leaders back on campaign trail after visiting tornado victims

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL -- The thorny issue of sovereignty re-emerged on the Quebec campaign trail on Sunday, as Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard suggested his Coalition Avenir Quebec rival hadn't totally given up on the idea of an independent Quebec. Source
  • Teen killed as Nicaragua protest tensions flare again

    World News CTV News
    MANAGUA, Nicaragua -- Armed men wearing hoods clashed with anti-government protesters in Nicaragua's capital Sunday, and police said a teenager was killed and five people were injured. Images on Nicaraguan television showed men carrying guns and the red and black flag of the government of President Daniel Ortega. Source
  • Trudeau affirms support for 'united Spain' following meetings with Spanish PM

    World News CBC News
    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Sunday he has confidence in the ability of the Spanish government and its people to resolve the Catalan secession crisis in a way that respects freedom of expression. Trudeau made the comment in Montreal on Sunday, where he hosted a series of meetings with his Spanish counterpart, Pedro Sanchez. Source
  • Vatican 'owes God an apology' over abuse allegations: N.L. activist's letter

    World News CBC News
    The prominent founder of a Newfoundland organization for clergy abuse survivors has written a letter to Pope Francis that says the Vatican "owes God an apology" for mismanagement of abuse allegations. "I realize you inherited this problem, but the way the Vatican mismanaged this crisis is disgraceful," wrote Gemma Hickey, founder of Pathways Foundation in St. Source
  • Georgia jury awards US$31M over boy's botched circumcision

    World News CTV News
    JONESBORO, Ga. -- A law firm says a Georgia jury has awarded US$31 million to a boy for a botched circumcision he received as a newborn. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the award was handed down Friday in northern Georgia's Clayton County. Source
  • Burials begin for victims of Tanzania ferry disaster that left 224 dead

    World News CBC News
    Relatives wept in grief on Sunday at the mass burial in Tanzania of many of the 224 people who drowned when a ferry in capsized on Lake Victoria. Colourfully painted coffins were lined up to go into graves on Ukara Island. Source
  • Say it ain't snow: Wintry first day of fall in the Prairies

    Canada News CTV News
    The first day of fall seemed more like the first day of winter in the Prairies as temperatures plummeted and snow fell. People from across Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta snapped pictures of the mini-snowpocalypse on Saturday. Source
  • Spain saves some 440 migrants; new crackdown on rescue boat

    World News CTV News
    ROME -- Spain's maritime rescue service said Sunday it rescued more than 400 people from 15 small boats, most of them off the country's southern coast, while humanitarian groups lamented that the sole private rescue boat operating near the deadly central Mediterranean human trafficking route risked being put out of action by Italy's anti-migrant leaders. Source
  • Amid furor, Trump pushes pause on deciding Rosenstein's fate

    World News CTV News
    BRIDGEWATER, N.J. -- As Air Force One streaked across the desert sky and Las Vegas faded in the distance, President Donald Trump began seeking opinions. The TVs on the plane, tuned as always to Fox News, carried headlines about an explosive new story: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had suggested wearing a wire to secretly record Trump, and raised the idea of using the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office. Source