TORONTO, June 21, 2012 /CNW/ - Today, the True Patriot Love Foundation (TPL) pledged $1 million over the next year to fund mental health programs and services for the members of the Canadian Forces and their families.
The pressing need for mental health support was identified last year in a comprehensive independent report by the Mezzanine Group, commissioned by TPL, to pinpoint the largest gaps in services to support military families.
"Last year saw the conclusion of a decade's worth of Canada's participation in conflict in Afghanistan. For many members of the Canadian Forces, the profound effects of post-traumatic stress disorder are just beginning to surface, requiring specialized individual and family counseling to deal with a myriad of issues, including anxiety, depression, substance abuse and homelessness," said Shaun Francis, Chair and Founder of TPL.
TPL's commitment to mental health is supported by True Patriot Love Tribute Gala sponsor Bell Canada, which has committed its Gala support to mental health programs for Canadian Forces members and their families. Bell's support for TPL is part of the $50 million Bell Let's Talk mental health initiative, the largest ever corporate commitment to mental health in Canada.
"Bell is proud to work with the True Patriot Love Foundation to support Canadian service men and women, and their families, dealing with issues related to mental health," said Mary Deacon, Chair of the Bell Let's Talk mental health initiative.
This summer, TPL is assembling a team of experts to identify where the $1 million earmarked for mental health will be most effective. The findings will be announced at the Tri-National Military Mental Health Symposium at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. from September 24 - 25, hosted by TPL. The symposium will feature extensive collaboration among Canadian officials, the White House, British officials, business executives and NGOs from all three countries to examine issues surrounding veteran mental health, its effective treatment and de-stigmatization.
The Mezzanine report also identified significant gaps in the areas of family health and support (such as childcare and supports for military children with special needs), and physical health and rehabilitation of injured soldiers. In response, TPL today also committed $1.0 million over the next year to these two areas ($500,000 each).
"Our great fear is that Canada's declining presence in Afghanistan leads to decreased mindshare for the military among civilian Canadians. This makes True Patriot Love's mission doubly important. If we succeed, no military charity in our country will ever have to worry about having resources available to them. Our military families will feel the support provided by regular Canadian citizens. And all Canadians will be able to say that they have met a man or women in uniform," said Francis.
Going forward, TPL plans to increase its annual disbursements from $2 million in 2012 to $3 million a year by 2015.
The True Patriot Love Foundation was formed by a group of dedicated business leaders to support and honour members of the Canadian military and their families, while also building bridges between Canadian civilians and the military to better understand and appreciate the sacrifices of soldiers and their families.
Since its inception 3 years ago, TPL has raised almost $11 million for military family health and support, for the physical health and rehabilitation of our injured military personnel, and to ensuring the mental health and well-being of both our military and their families. TPL's fourth annual True Patriot Love Tribute Gala, presented by Bell, is on November 1, 2012 in Toronto.
Please visit www.truepatriotlovefoundation.com for more information.