June 2, 2021 – Ottawa, ON The Office of the Veterans Ombud (OVO) today released its report, Peer Support for Veterans who have Experienced Military Sexual Trauma.
Peer support is a proven resource for Veterans living with psychological difficulties. The Veterans Affairs Canada Operational Stress Injury Social Support (OSISS) program has benefited thousands of Veterans. However, upon investigating a Veteran’s complaint, the OVO found that those who share their experience with Military Sexual Trauma (MST) are being referred away from this program.
This is unfair. Equitable access to comparable peer support should be available to all Veterans, regardless of the cause of their service-connected mental health condition.
The OVO is recommending that the Minister of Veterans Affairs provide a funded peer support program that meets the needs of Veterans who have experienced MST. Our findings also indicate a need for better data collection and monitoring of program outcomes to ensure that the diverse needs of Veterans are met.
“Access to VAC-funded peer support must be equitable and available to all Veterans regardless of the cause of their service-connected mental health condition. Veterans who have experienced MST have been asking for a VAC-funded peer support program for years. We expect that government will move quickly to implement the program promised in the recent federal budget. ”
– Colonel (Ret’d) Nishika Jardine, Veterans Ombud
The OVO recommendations to the Minister of Veterans Affairs are: 1) Provide a funded peer support program that meets the needs of Veterans who have experienced MST; 2) Publish the Gender-Based Analysis Plus for the establishment of a funded peer support program for Veterans who have experienced MST; and, 3) Establish a performance measurement system and report annually on all peer support program outcomes to ensure that the needs of Veterans and their families are addressed.
· Veterans who have experienced MST should have access to comparable peer support programs as Veterans who have suffered other military-related injuries or trauma.
· The lack of sufficient data about the Operational Stress Injury Social Support (OSISS) program makes it impractical for VAC to fully measure the effectiveness of program outcomes generally and specifically to ensure the needs of all Veterans are successfully met.
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