Victims of military sexual trauma turned away from peer-support programs: ombudsman

OTTAWA — Canada’s veterans ombudsman says a recent investigation by her office has found victims of military sexual misconduct are being referred away from existing peer-support programs for service members with PTSD and other psychological trauma.

Nishika Jardine says survivors who reveal their experiences are being directed instead to the Department of National Defence’s sexual misconduct response centre or local rape crisis centres, but that those services do not address the victims’ unique needs.

Jardine says that is why she is adding her voice to calls for the creation of a peer-support program for those who have experienced sexual trauma while serving in uniform.

Survivors had been calling for dedicated peer support even before allegations of inappropriate behaviour involving several top commanders put a fresh focus on sexual misconduct in the ranks in recent months.

The Liberal government set aside money in this year’s federal budget for in-person and online pilot peer-support programs.

Jardine says she welcomes that commitment, though the government has yet to reveal the full details.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 2, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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