Families Matter:

Exploring Military and Veteran Family Involvement in Suicide Prevention in Canada and Abroad

Webinar Families Matter: Exploring Military and Veteran Family Involvement in Suicide Prevention in Canada and Abroad

There is increasing awareness – in research, practice, and policy – that members of military communities, including Family members, are more likely to experience suicidal thoughts, engage in suicidal behaviours and die by suicide. Families play vital roles in suicide prevention.

Join us for a live bilingual webinar on Wednesday, 24 November 2021, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. ET to learn more about research that is underway to examine the extent to which military and Veteran Families are reflected within suicide prevention efforts, here in Canada and abroad.

Dr. Heidi Cramm and Dr. Denise DuBois, Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, will provide a brief overview of this research. Following this presentation, attendees will join a diverse group of panelists who have been impacted by suicide, to discuss the possible implications of these findings.

Fardous HosseinyFardous Hosseiny is the Deputy CEO and Vice President of Research and Policy at the Centre of Excellence on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Related Mental Health Conditions (CoE). Before coming to the CoE, Mr. Hosseiny was most recently the interim National Chief Executive Officer and the National Director of Research and Public Policy, at the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Mr. Hosseiny completed a Master of Science with a focus on the neuroscience of addiction and a BSc. Honours double majoring in Health Studies and Neuroscience, both at the University of Toronto.

His research focuses on strategic policy issues related to mental health system transformation, parity legislation, substance use and addiction and mental health for newcomers and underrepresented groups. Mr. Hosseiny is also a frequent commentator on these issues for Global News, CBC, The Globe and Mail, and The Toronto Star, among others.

Mr. Hosseiny was a part of the Canadian delegation to the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly and played a role in the development of the first ever United Nations event dedicated to mental health. He also serves on many national and international committees, including as an executive advisor member on the Global Alliance for Mental Health Advocates (GAMHA) and past co-chair for the Canadian Alliance for Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH).

Philip RalphPhil currently serves as the Director, Health Services for Wounded Warriors Canada and has served in various capacities throughout the organization’s history, including serving as Chair for two years. As Director, Health Services he oversees the implementation of a robust and exciting slate of transformative culturally appropriate group-based interventions that are clinically facilitated and grounded in evidence that draws upon leading trauma research benefiting Veterans, First Responders, and their Families.

For over a quarter century until releasing from the Canadian Armed Forces in 2016, Phil served our nation as the Regimental Chaplain to the 32 Combat Engineer Regiment (formally 2nd Field Engineer Regiment) in Toronto. In that capacity, he was exposed to challenges and needs of today’s veterans. As a CAF Chaplain, Phil has been directly involved in several notifications to the families of Canadian Forces Personnel, including notifications that have resulted from both overseas and domestic situations. Having seen firsthand the effects of deployments on our Veterans he has a passion to contribute to assisting today’s Veterans towards wholeness and healing. As the son of a Firefighter whose families service extends back into the 1800’s he has also witnessed first-hand the challenges that face first responders and their families as well.

Padre Ralph has served as Directing Staff at the Canadian Force Chaplains School and Centre located within CFB Borden on several different occasions. He has also served as the Senior Chaplain at Blackdown Cadet Training Centre for eight summers supervising his staff as they cared for a Camp of 3,000 personnel including up to 2,500 young people.

Phil brings a wealth of experience that inform his current role from both his civilian and Military roles. He holds a Bachelor of Theology degree from Ontario Bible College and a Master of Divinity degree from Ontario Theological Seminary.

Beyond military and congregational ministry, Phil has been active in the wider community by serving on the Boards of several agencies dedicated to assisting those in need, including the North York Emergency Needs Network (Treasurer and Chairman), Foodshare Metro Toronto, the North York Harvest Food Bank (three terms as Chairman).

His work in the community has been well received. Largely due to his work with the Food Bank, he was awarded the Canada 125 Medal, given for “Significant Contributions to Canada.” In 2002 he was awarded the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, primarily for his contributions to the Public School Community. He is also the recipient of the Canadian Forces Decoration.

Heidi CrammDr. Cramm and Dr. DuBois are both applied occupational therapy/science researchers with clinical backgrounds in child and adult mental health and disability. In both their clinical and academic work, they have enacted collaborative, family-centric approaches.

Dr. Cramm is an Associate Professor in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy at Queen’s University. Her program of research focuses on the mental health needs and experiences of families connected to military, veteran, and public safety personnel.

Dr. DuBois is a post-doctoral researcher at Queen’s University. She earned her PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences with a Collaborative Specialization in Public Health Policy from the University of Toronto in 2020. Dr. DuBois is also a military spouse and sits on the Board of Directors for the Kingston Military Family Resource Centre.Denise DuBois

Dr. J. Don RichardsonDr. Richardson is the Scientific Director of the OSI Research and Innovation Centre at the Parkwood Institute, and a fellow with the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health. He has a Social Work degree from McGill University. He completed his medical degree at Queen’s University and his fellowship in Psychiatry at the University of Ottawa. Dr. Richardson has published widely in the area of Military and Veteran Mental Health including risk factors for PTSD and suicidal ideation, sleep disturbances, health care utilization, treatment outcomes, and the impact of PTSD on quality-of-life.

Bonnie RushowickI live in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, a small city near the Saskatchewan/Manitoba border. I am married, and my husband and I are the parents of three children.

I graduated as a registered nurse 46 years ago. I have held a number of nursing positions over the years including general-duty nursing in a health centre in northern Manitoba and a large urban hospital in Saskatchewan, but the majority of my career has been in public and community health. I worked in a number of positions in rural and urban Saskatchewan before joining the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (Indigenous Services Canada) (FNIHB) in Saskatchewan. I held a number of positions in FNIHB before retiring this year as a regional director of primary care and population health.

I have two sons and one daughter. Our oldest son is RCMP, our daughter is an engineer on a short line railway. Our middle child, our second son Patrick, was a Captain in the Royal Canadian Engineers. He deployed as part of the Canadian response to assist Haiti after the devastating earthquake of 2010 and he was part of the Canadian mission to Afghanistan in 2010-2011. He witnessed many things and experienced much during these deployments that affected him deeply, more than we ever realized. We lost him to suicide in 2013.

Following the loss of Patrick, our family dealt with his death in different ways. Some of them very difficult to deal with, including our daughter’s suicide attempt a month after losing her brother. My husband and I received counselling through my work Employment Assistance Program as well as support from family and friends. We were both also contacted by a peer volunteer with the Canadian Forces bereavement program called HOPE. This peer support was immensely helpful to both of us. In 2014, I became a peer volunteer with the program and I continue to be one to this day.

During my years working in public and community health and my time as a peer volunteer, I have seen how mental health issues and illness can impact individuals and families. The need for understanding and support has never been greater to address what these issues are and find positive solutions.

Chad BridgerI was born and raised in Newfoundland. I joined the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in 1996 as a materials technician. After my trades training, I was posted to 2 Service Battalion, Petawawa, Ontario. I deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 with the National Support Element (NSE). I retired from the CAF in 2011 from 1 Canadian Field Hospital.

After retirement, I moved to Kingston, Ontario, and worked as a welder until 2015 at CFB Kingston. I retired in 2015 to deal with my cocaine and OxyContin addiction, my OSI (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury. I am currently the Peer Support Coordinator (PSC) for Operational Stress Injury Social Support (OSISS) in Kingston. I am also working with the University of Saskatchewan as a subject matter expert for research on the effects of service dogs with Veterans who suffer from OSIs and opioid addictions.

I currently live in Kingston with my still-serving wife, Sandy, and service dog, Abigail. I have an 18-year-old son who is also serving in the CAF and attending the University of New Brunswick in Saint John.

Jim ShortJim Short is a retired Canadian Armed Forces Reserve Chaplain/Spiritual Care Provider (26 years). He is a Veteran of the Afghanistan War and two domestic deployments.

Jim is also a retired United Church Minister (39 years) having served churches from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island. He currently serves as the Chaplain to the Police and Fire Department in Delta, B.C., where he lives with his partner, adult children, and grandchildren. Jim has journeyed with persons and families impacted by suicide and done numerous next-of-kin notifications. His training and experiences include trauma-informed practice, first responder occupational awareness, and emergency disaster training. He is a para-professional with the Veteran’s Transition Network and the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST).

A lover of Canadian military history, addicted to coffee shops, and a voracious book collector, he has an interest in moral injury and the impact of spirituality and practice on First Responders. He is a member of the Order of Military Merit and has received various awards and commendations for his work with military personnel, Veterans, and Families.

Sheri LeratSheri Lerat is a widow to a fallen RCMP Officer. Her husband lost his battle with PTSD four years ago. Sheri understands the full impact of what PTSD can do to a family, the stigmas that are often attached, and the aftermath of raising children solo while grieving.

As a way to cope with the chaos and trauma, Sheri channeled her energy into creating abstract paintings and candles. These became her escape. After her husband’s death, she walked away from her professional teaching career to pursue her own company: Karys Layne Candles, which now displays her crystal-infused artwork and hand-poured scented wood-wick candles. Sheri’s journey is a testament to the discovery of self-love, the importance of gratitude, and finding your fire in the face of adversity.

Sheri is also a Wounded Warriors Ambassador and now speaks about her story to help bring awareness to others.

Resources

CONTENT WARNING: This webinar may include content on difficult topics including suicide. The content may be hard to listen to and may bring up a range of emotions. We encourage you to care for your safety and well-being.