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Military investigating suicides of two soldiers with ties to Shilo base

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Two Canadian soldiers with links to CFB Shilo died by suicide this week in separate incidents, the Manitoba military base has confirmed.

Lori Truscott, director of public affairs, told the Free Press on Wednesday that both deaths are now under investigation.

Suicide help

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide or dealing with a suicide loss, call the Manitoba Suicide Line -- a free, confidential, 24-hour service -- at 1-877-435-7170.

The first occurred earlier this week when a soldier posted at CFB Shilo took his own life in a private residence off-base, she said. Hours later, another soldier who had been posted at the western Manitoba base until this past summer died by suicide in Alberta. That incident also happened away from his new posting in Lethbridge.

No other details are being released, including the names or hometowns of the two men. Truscott said there is no apparent link between the men or their deaths, other than the fact they both had been posted at CFB Shilo and ended their lives within a 24-hour period of each other.

The soldier who died off the base in Shilo was with the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

A national organization which advocates on behalf of Canadian soldiers first reported the suicides on Wednesday morning.

Barry Westholm, a retired Sergeant Major who now sits on the executive of the Canadian Veterans Advocacy (CVA), had stated they both occurred on Tuesday at CFB Shilo. He also said the two soldiers were members of the Joint Personnel Support Unit (JPSU) which is assigned to work with sick and injured soldiers.

Truscott said those reports are erroneous, as neither death occurred on the base or on Tuesday. As well, neither soldier had spent time in the JPSU, she said.

In a statement posted on the CVA’s website Wednesday, Westholm said those working in the military are facing increasingly stressful situations.

"They are doing their damnedest to provide support to our injured and ill, but are unable to do so and burning out," he said. "Steps must be taken to mitigate copycat actions - something that is a distinct possibility."

Westholm said post-traumatic stress disorder continues to be a major issue for those in the military, especially at this particular time of year.

"The upcoming holiday season can be a particularly tough time of the year for people with Occupational Stress Injuries (OSI's) which include PTSD. While a Sergeant Major with the JPSU, I always sent out a ‘Warning Order’ for my staff to keep close contact with those persons who may be vulnerable," Westholm wrote.

"However, as I have indicated in a great many military correspondences, and then blogs, the equation of JPSU posted-in-to-staff has been allowed to bloat to the point where practical oversight is impossible."

www.mikeoncrime.com

History

Updated on Wednesday, November 27, 2013 at 5:09 PM CST: Clarifies sentence.

12:00 AM: Fixes copy.

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