Canadian Veterans Not 'Appy With Government Decision

In a new move that has left many veterans fuming, the Canadian Department of Veterans Affairs has introduced a new mobile device application to provide veterans with information on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other conditions at the same time that it is closing nine Veterans Affairs offices across the country.  

According to the Veterans Affairs website, the new mobile application, PTSD Coach Canada, is designed to help veterans learn about their symptoms and obtain information about local treatment programs.  The app also provides tools intended to work in conjunction with existing treatment programming rather than as a stand-alone aid.   First developed for use by the U.S. National Center for PTSD,  the new app has already been downloaded more than 100,000 times in seventy-four countries around the world.  

Despite the popularity of the mobile application to date, many Canadian veterans are not so enthusiastic, especially those viewing it as nothing more than a cost-saving move on the part of the government.   While Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino has publicly endorsed the apps, a recent CBC News interview with two veterans, who had little experience with smartphone technology, reflects the veterans resentment.  

According to Cape Breton veterans, Terry Collins and Ron Clarke, both of whom suffer from PTSD,  fumbling with a touch screen provides little help for veterans needing mental health care.   "Way too mind boggling,"  Collins said.  "When you're in crisis you don't got time in your head to look at something like that. It's bad enough looking face to face to somebody and getting answers that way, that we can put up with. But a phone or a computer that runs you around in circles like I've seen these phones do, it's crazy."   Their local office is currently slated for closure. 

Along with feeling let down by a government determined to  save money at the expense of veterans, Ron Clarke ruefully admits that he would likely need a magnifying glass to read the help screens provided by the new app.    While the original developers of PTSD Coach stress that the app was never designed to replace needed professional care, the closing of local offices at the same time that the new app is being introduced is sending an uncomfortable message to mental health agencies and people needing help across the country.

As for veterans such as Ron Clarke and Terry Collins, they report feeling more determined than ever to keep local offices open to ensure that they have access to the help they need.   "Totally frustrated, totally disappointed and I feel my government has let me down,"  Collins said.

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