Lest we forget, even after their service: A lost generation of vets

Evan Solomon interviews Cpl. Georges Villeneuve, who says he’s struggled with mental illness and believes ex-soldiers’ pain goes underreported and under-supported


There is no more poignant place to be than at the National War Memorial on Nov. 11. Alongside so many regular Canadians and dignitaries, it is the gathering of the veterans that is most moving. From so many generations and so many missions and conflicts, these men and women walk proudly, each carrying a tradition and a story.

Cpl. Georges Villeneuve is one of them. He served for 22 years, beginning in the Royal 22nd Regiment. From Bosnia to the Gulf War to the Golan, Cpl. Villeneuve represented Canada in peacekeeping and in combat missions. Often, those were the very same thing. Like so many veterans, Cpl. Villenueve suffers from PTSD and openly talks about attempting suicide. He believes his generation of veterans are the forgotten ones, whose stories and whose post-service pain has gone underreported and under-supported. Today, he tells his story to Maclean’s.

Related: Gen. Jonathan Vance: Suicide in military a concern


Lest we forget, even after their service: A lost generation of vets

  1. I work at an addiction treatment centre. One of the programs there treats those with PTSD as a result of their employment who have also developed an addiction usually as a coping mechanism. While in this role for I have met with well over 600 of them, 90% of whom are from The Canadian Armed Forces. I have asked everyone of them whether it is difficult to access support. The answer I get is, “No, the issue is deciding to take that support.” This is because of a significant stigma which those without PTSD attach to those with it. They tell me if you have an issue with alcohol or hard drugs, that is viewed as kind of macho. Whereas PTSD is viewed very much in the sissy realm. In addition, if you were moving up the military ladder, that is over after treatment for PTSD since the military views you as high risk. They tell me because of this, many wait to address their PTSD until after retirement. Unfortunately some of their comrades commit suicide while trying to get to that milestone. It would appear to me that the real issue here is a lack of general education within the military itself regarding what a terrible illness this is.

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