NEWS

Veterans' mental health: more funding needed, says PTSD expert

11/25/2014 03:57 EST | Updated 01/25/2015 05:59 EST
The psychiatrist of a B.C. veteran suffering from PTSD, who was shot in a standoff with police, is warning that a new mental health clinic for veterans will struggle to recruit experienced doctors.

Greg Matters, 40, was a soldier for 15 years, who served in the Bosnian conflict before returning to Prince George in 2009, and was being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder at the time of his death.

Over the weekend, the federal government announced it will spend $200-million over six years to address mental health issues in the Canadian Armed Forces, including a new operational stress injury clinic in Halifax.

But Matters' psychiatrist Dr. Greg Passey, is cautious about the touted improvements.

"What is not known to the general public is that these Operational Stress Injury clinics will pay the psychologists one quarter of what they can earn in private practice," Passey told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff.

Passey says he hopes to see more research for new, cutting edge treatments for patients with PTSD.

He also wants to see a better transition process when soldiers leave the military, and better follow-up to ensure they are cared for.

Funding announcement came ahead of damning mental health report

The government's announcement came only days before the release of a report on Tuesday by the Auditor General, who found there are too many barriers to veterans getting mental health services and benefits.

Matters' sister Tracy isn't surprised by the report's findings. She says it took two years for her brother to get help for his condition, and says he was lucky to be treated in the first place.

"For veterans, there is a natural avoidance to start with, because there is a lot of stigma and potentially shame associated with having something like PTSD," she told Cluff.

Matters says the additional funding is needed, but is skeptical the announcement came a few days before the auditor's report was released.

"This is what governments do to ease the pain, I suppose," she said.

Tracy Matters hopes the auditor's report will lead to changes in how veterans are treated in Canada.

"No one loves their country more than soldiers and veterans, yet no one is more used and abused by the country that they love so much," she said.

"The relationship is absolutely toxic."

MORE:cbcNews