New unit to help departing military members with physical, mental illnesses

The federal government detailed its plans Friday to create a special unit to support members of the military suffering from physical and psychological injuries as they prepare to return to civilian life.

Treasury Board President Scott Brison spoke at a Halifax military family resource centre, just two days after Ottawa announced a revamped defence policy which proposes to spend an added $198 million on health and wellness of personnel in the next decade.

He said the money will help fund a 1,200-person division that will begin "over the next several years."

It will include 400 specialized staff and 800 personnel "whose only mission will be to heal" from their physical and psychological injuries, including PTSD.

Nova Scotia was the scene Jan. 3 of a tragic murder suicide where former soldier Lionel Desmond, who was being treated for mental illness, fatally shot his wife, daughter and mother.

The Jan. 3 killings in Upper Big Tracadie, N.S., prompted a difficult debate over soldiers with PTSD, domestic violence and what should be done to prevent such tragedies.

Brison stopped short of promising any public review into the tragedy by Ottawa, but said the federal government will learn from the internal review of Desmond's suicide as it crafts new policies on transitioning personnel to civilian life.