Third Canadian soldier dies of apparent suicide
Published Thursday, November 28, 2013 7:46PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, November 28, 2013 10:58PM EST
Another Canadian soldier has died of an apparent suicide, following the deaths of two soldiers in Manitoba and Alberta earlier this week.
A spokesperson for the Canadian Army has confirmed that warrant officer Michael McNeil died Wednesday at the Canadian Forces Base Petawawa in Ontario.
No details were released, but an army spokesperson said the military police is investigating.
News of McNeil’s death comes a day after it was revealed that two soldiers with links to CFB Shilo in Manitoba died of suicide a short time apart earlier this week.
Master Cpl. William Elliott died at his home just outside the base, while Master Bombardier Travis Halmrast died in Lethbridge, Alta., following a suicide attempt at a corrections facility.
“As the Commander of the Canadian Army, I am disturbed by the loss of three of our soldiers,” Lt.-Gen. Marquis Hainse said in a statement Thursday.
“The Canadian Army cares deeply for each and every member. It goes without saying that we take every death seriously and as such we will explore all facets of these situations to try and learn from them and reduce future occurrences while also providing the best support to the Army family whenever a death does occur.”
The deaths have raised questions about the treatment of Canada’s veterans and resources available to wounded soldiers and those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“They are giving them all this stuff they need over there to fight with, tanks guns and everything, they do the job over there and do it well, but when they come home and they need the help they don't seem to have it,” McNeil’s uncle, Frank McNeil, told CTV News.
The army said McNeil joined the Canadian Armed Forces in Oct. 1994. He had been deployed to Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan and his cousin was killed by Taliban snipers six years ago.
Elliott was a “decorated combat veteran” who toured in Bosnia and Afghanistan.
Elliott had suffered back injuries in Afghanistan. His friend, Cpl. Glen Kirkland, told CTV News this week that Elliott was worried about being discharged from the army and not having financial security.
Halmrast, whose death is being investigated by a local police force, was said to be living with PTSD.
“I don't believe he got the help that he needed, no,” Halmrast’s sister Sammy told CTV.
“Especially in the time he was in right now, he needed more help. And I don't feel as though he got it.”
Defence Minister Rob Nicholson expressed his condolences to the soldiers’ families and friends in the House of Commons Thursday.
Earlier in the day, Nicholson said the deaths were "very troubling," but noted that the Conservative government has spent millions of extra dollars to treat and counsel returning soldiers over the last two years.
Veterans Ombudsman Guy Parent said there is a “surge” of troubled soldiers who took part in the Afghan mission, and his office has been asking the government to improve services available to them.
With a report from CTV’s Richard Madan and files from The Canadian Press
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