The Treatment of an Injured Reservist 

This is an earlier painting I did depicting my treatment by my Chain of Command while serving in the Canadian Armed Forces. It still applies today, nearly 2 years later.

My story: I was deliberately targeted by my supervisor while working as a full time Reservist in the CAF. He has PTSD and anger problems, which he directed at me. He would scream and pound his fist at me, and other threatening behaviour. Although I complained to my C of C, nothing was done other than he would apologize each time later, but the passive aggression got worst, ignoring me, leaving me out of information, preferential treatment to another of my equal rank, and slowly turning others against me. I felt very isolated and alone and constant fear of his explosive behaviour.

Finally, when  I went to the highest in the C of C, who assured me he would take care of it, this supervisor and his supervisor suddenly took me in a room and berated me with lies, threats and charges ( none formal) of insubordination and disrespect to my supervisor! He was so agitated and angry he couldn’t sit still. I couldn’t understand why they were so angry to me, I’ve never been anything but professional at work.

It felt like a verbal rape. I couldn’t feel my legs and my head was pounding. At the end, even though I insisted on a solution, they simply got up and left me sitting in that room. I went back to my desk, it was near the end of my day, I couldn’t even complete a thought, I felt dazed, so I sent an email to my supervisor telling him I had a migraine and was going home. I don’t even remember how I got home.

I went home and was a zombie. My legs wouldn’t stop tingling. I couldn’t sleep anyways ( I hadn’t slept in months)  and as it happened, a former officer I used to work for suddenly made a comment on one of my paintings. I hadn’t seen her in years, but I witnessed her being targeted by someone in her C of C and what she went through. I knew I could trust her. I sent her a desperate email asking to talk to her. She replied with her phone number and we talked til 1 am.

She told me to go to sick parade and tell them exactly what happened and my physical symptoms ( I had others,but the tingling wouldn’t go away). I really couldn’t think for myself and didn’t want to go, but it was like a zombie and just followed her advice. I did go, saw a nurse, she consulted a Medical Officer and they immediately pulled me out of my work and told me not to go back, not even for personal things.

And so it began. I was put on medications and cut off from everything I’d known for 13 years.

Through the next year I coped with a total breakdown and meds that kept me stable but zombie like.

And through that year I coped with my C of C accusing me of theft, constantly trying to contact me ( which caused the symptoms to return) and ending my current contract and position. In fact, they had switched my position with another to accomplish this. In other words, Fraud.

Through no fault of mine, my Reserve contract was ended maliciously. The Goon in my C of C harassed me to sign away my leave, but I was advised not to. He bullied me, but I wouldn’t sign. Although they promised Compensation, they purposely delayed the paperwork for 4 months where I received no pay. I couldn’t pay my mortgage.

I finally went to the DND Ombudsman. He really listened and within 3 days ( because of deliberate delays by my C of C) , I had my back pay reinstated. I had a $1000 penalty for non payment of my mortgage that I had to pay myself.

Finally, the Ombudsman intervened and even though the C of C tried more stall tactics, the Ombudsman and Primary Reserve List came through for me and Compensation was approved. I was exhausted and so mentally I’ll from all this.

I have been told, as a Reservist no longer with a contract, I have no rights to health or dental care other than something that occurred while I was on contract. Confused? Try living through a breakdown and dealing with this obscure concept.

Fast forward to yesterday. I have a medical appointment with the doctor. She only approves my anxiety pills, but she doesn’t approve meds for IBS which started in the military after another stressful incident. I am not going to beg for them.

I tell her my knee is really bothering me since I tried to work out more. In 2002 I snapped my Plantar Fascitis on my foot during a march and never got proper footwear for it through the years until about 4-5 years ago I started getting physio and proper inserts for my footwear and proper fitting shoes.

The doctor writes me a script for Physio and specifically puts on it that it is attributable to military service, just so they are clear, she says. She examines it, then sends me for X-rays. By then my knee is throbbing !

I take the paperwork to Physio. They refuse me, saying I must have a CF 98 on file or they won’t see me. I never needed that before.

You know what? The hell with them.

I’m a soldier, I don’t beg. I say fine, and leave. I left with my DIGNITY attached for once. I am no longer begging for anything. I’ve had to beg at Pharmacy, Dental ( for a filling that fell out that the military did) for everything. I’m not begging anymore. I will fix my damn knee myself and take painkillers. I don’t need them anymore, losing your pride isn’t worth it. No more.

For the first time I walked out of there feeling better. No healthcare, but I had my dignity!

This is the life of a full time Reservist who served faithfully for 14 years. I can no longer work full time, i now stammer and stutter, I’m exhausted mentally and physically and I’m a shell of the person I was. I live with nightmares and panic attacks.

WHY am I denied healthcare and dental while my Reg Force buddy, same as me, doesn’t worry about that, she has a toothache, she gets it fixed. Me, I can’t afford dental, so I take painkillers. And now I have to do my own physio!

It all comes down to money, the system chooses money over their own soldiers. It is not my fight anymore. I am not alone, this is repeated on all Reservists. Policy and culture need to be changed and I have no control over that, I have my own battles.

I would have given my life for my country. How stupid was I?

 

 

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Last Fawn of 2014

Last fawn of 2014, pastel on Canson Mi-tients paper

I’ve had non stop migraines for weeks and can’t do anything. I started this but a migraine started and it had to wait for 2 days to finish.

Renewing compensation from the military has me worn out, next year will be my last in the military. Lately, I have been thinking a lot about betrayal. Every time I see it, in any way, I am brought back to the betrayal by my chain of command towards me. Three years of dedicated, hard work meant nothing. One person wanted to get rid of me and they believed his lies about me. I could feel it when I was there, the walls went up and I was left to watch every step I made.

I don’t think I’ll ever recover from this total betrayal. Canada is so ready to support soldiers… As long as they served in Afghanistan. And yet I know dozens of soldiers who received their worst wounds from a system that promotes harassment, domination at any cost and insecure and unstable “leaders”. We are the broken in spirit you might say, we so believed in the Forces, we put our own needs aside. And when we knew we were at the mercy of a manipulative and calculating supervisor, suddenly we saw “leaders” close ranks and protect their own.

In my case, I went to the next chain in command three times about the abusive behaviour towards me and how it was affecting my health. And yet, this same person wrote on the Investigator Report that he had no knowledge of the behaviour. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of someone purposely pointing out how stupid they are, but it certainly demonstrates how easily his testimony was unquestionably accepted. I don’t have recordings of our conversations, but I do have email proofs that I met with him on three occasions to discuss this issue.

Fourteen years of service for nothing. And I would still lay my life down for any Canadian. That will never leave me.

via PressSync

Update and good news

It Is really difficult to put into words all that has happened in the last couple of weeks. Let’s just say that the ombudsman kicks butt. Their staff accomplished more in one week then the unit and the IPSC pretended to do in the last three months. In fact all the stalling was nothing more than more bullying on the part of my unit. And they continued to get away with it.

It was obvious from the very beginning that the unit did everything they could to stall, and make things more difficult for me for the reporting of my injury. They gave me the wrong forms, they filled them out incorrectly, they didn’t send them to me, they did everything wrong. The IPSC was useless in all of this. They never stepped in, just made more excuses.

I’m ashamed that I ever worked for these people. In the middle of all of this, three months without any salary and about to lose my house, the IPSC had the nerve to send me an email telling me to come in to sign my PER. I sent them back an email telling them that I didn’t have enough gas to get it and they should be working on my file and the priority should be to get my compensation. I never heard back from them.

But I sure heard back from the ombudsman. He followed up on everything and he called everyone on my behalf and believe me they suddenly found my file and suddenly could get things done.

Another big surprise in all of this was the primary reserve list (PRL). They had a captain assigned to me and he got everything investigated. He met with me and my assisting officer and went through a checklist of items that should have been done a year ago. He told me that I should receive a cheque within a week if not a few days. I have to say that I didn’t really believe him because I’d heard this from my unit so many times. I didn’t really understand the purpose of the PRL, but I see now that they really stepped up and made everything happen.

Not only did I receive a cheque of backpay for three months, but I received it exactly as I wanted it. Some cash, some deposited in my bank account. I had actually missed over $2000 in house payments. And this included charges for nonpayment. I will be discussing this with the ombudsman to correct this.

Although the CO at my unit did not want to sign for my compensation, he had no choice he had to rely on the recommendation of the ombudsman and the commanding officer of the PRL who authorized it.

I know it sounds very smooth reading it here for the outcome, but in reality this involves multiple signatures from so many different people in so many different areas of the city and many phone calls to get doctors appointments and other things done very quickly so that my pay could be done quickly.

You should go into this with the idea that YOU are the priority for the entire base. I know is very difficult for us to believe that, but it is very necessary that you put forward that everything needs to be done now as if that your case is an emergency and needs to be dealt with at this moment.

I am exhausted mentally just doing all of this and trying to keep all of this straight. It was really my husband who took over and demanded everything. Because despite feeling better all of this is all too much for me all at once. I feel so bad for those military members who have to go through this on their own with no advocate on their behalf. It is so unfair how we are treated after our service to have to fight for compensation when everyone knows that we entered the Canadian forces perfectly healthy.

I didn’t serve overseas, but I sure supported those who did go. I supported it with overtime weekends working so hard doing more than was asked of me during OP TEMPO. And all it took was one insecure jealous person with a little bit of authority and convincing the rest of the chain of command , that’s all it took to take all of that away from me.

Bullying is so commonplace in the Canadian Armed Forces it is embarrassing. As long as the chain of command continues to tolerate the behavior and the excuses by the perpetrators it will continue. How can I go from having an excellent PER one month and then one month later suddenly I am a problem and insubordinate and need to be gotten rid of?

If this were an isolated case it would be sad. But it isn’t. I know so many other people that the Canadian forces loses every year because of intense bullying that is tolerated. It is evil and insidious and must stop now.

I hope someday that I can be proud to be a member of the Canadian forces, but for right now I am not. Unless something is done about this and I will do everything I can to try to stop it. For now I have to concentrate on getting better and not having to fight these ridiculous battles of compensation.

If you are being bullied in the Canadian forces please do not give up your rights. You have a right to a safe workplace. Even though your chain of command may support the other person, you still have a right to a safe environment. All I can say is if you know you are right please contact the DND Ombudsman.

The best compliment the ombudsman gave me is this: “I knew that everything your unit said didn’t add up and were all excuses. But everything you said made sense after I investigated it. I knew you were honest.”

I know it is hard to be honest in the beginning. In short term it may seem like the bullies are winning because they lie and they make up things for their advantage. But in the long run your character will show through and your honesty will be rewarded.

Did I do any painting during this? You bet! It was either that or go insane. Here is one I did one night when all of this was getting to be too much. I call it caring for Our own and is a representation of the people at my unit and how they treated me. And all the other ill and injured that they deal with every day. They are only pieces of meat that they fight over for their own advantage.

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Polar Bear

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Pastels on Mi-tients Touch grey paper.

I met a fellow a few weeks ago who works for the company building the Keystone Pipeline. When I mentioned I attempt to draw animals, he said he had just come from up North and had taken photos of polar bears there he promised to send me them and voila! A few weeks later he did! I really appreciate him taking the time for this, it’s good to know there are good and thoughtful people in this world.

Truthfully I haven’t been feeling well lately and quite depressed. After meeting with my unit and the MO, I have finally realized that my unit are not going to support me in any way and are not truthful with me. I worked so hard for them for 3 years and they are less than helpful to me. In a few short months I will be unemployed but the people who bullied me and caused my PTSD are employed. If anyone knew the unit they would be outraged.

I need to heal, I need to get better so I can get a job. I am not healthy financially and support family who can’t take care of themselves.

I will have my pity party, mope a bit etc but I will come out of this. I have faith in Heavenly Father and I know I am doing the right thing. I am so proud of my military service, I have impacted hundreds of military and their family and I worked hard for them. I wish I still could but I can’t go back there and I can never tolerate bullying and disrespect like that ever again. Now I can begin to heal and make a right wheel to a better future.

And they still owe me a medal 🙂

Cute kitties

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Saw these kitties on twitter and just had to try drawing them. I used a Sketch And Wash pencil and a water pen. This was a nice challenge on values and no colour. I may eventually add colour but I’ll leave it for now. I sent it to the owner.

Winter Moose

Winter Moose

Winter Moose, Rembrandt pastels and Derwent pastel pencils on Mi-tients Touch paper

This one was a real struggle, have had a few setbacks but I keep fighting. Part of having an illness like PTSD is knowing that every dark feeling will eventually leave (on meds!) and in a little while you will be feeling better. Truly one day at a time.

This moose took me a long time and provided lots of hours of calm and distraction from stress. I have only been drawing for a year, so I know it’s not fine art, but I keep trying. Art really is a metaphor for life.

Blue Jay on Red

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Pastels on watercolour background.

I tried out a natural sponge on the watercolour for effect. Mainly used Mungyo pastels for the under painting and saved the pricey pastels for detail on top. I don’t do a lot of bright colour but couldn’t resist a photo a friend sent me.

I increased my PTSD meds this week and it requires adjustment …. I was dark, sullen, sleepy and full of hatred and no patience. It’s only for about 2 or so weeks and then you come out of it and start thinking clearer and feeling better. I’ve had buddies of mine who quit after a week, I wish they would have hung on.

I was very affected by the many suicides of CF soldiers recently and my mood didn’t help. I felt such empathy for them, I knew exactly how they felt. And I know there are many more who get out suddenly and then lose the battle and we have no stats on them.

But I have started to come out of it and am much better. You have to give these meds a chance, they are not instant fixes.

It’s not fun to go through this . Although this condition happened while in service, I don’t feel the CF owes me anything other than a smoother transition out. I am very grateful for the training I received and the great experiences I had.

I didn’t have a glowing career, but I now have a great skill set that is very much in demand. I need a little help in resume prep or recommendations, but I stand on my own merits. I am a good employee who works hard and has unparalleled experience in web design, graphics, social media and communications. When I tell others what I have accomplished, they are astonished, but we in the military think nothing of it. When a General looks at me and says, Can you get that to me in 20 minutes? It never occurs to me that I could refuse it or make an excuse. We in the military get er done, and that makes us fantastic employees.

And not to be negative, but the truth is many slack asses and bullies stay in the military because they know no one would hire them!

So yes, I have PTSD and I am being forced out by the very people who made me this way, but I will survive and I will be much happier in a place that respects me and my skill set. A better year next year…