Modernizing Defence: Soldier care policy

Video script, written for the Department of National Defence in 2017. Italicized paragraphs are selections from a recorded interview with the policy developer.

Soldier care is the most important, fundamental element of ensuring the health and safety of members of the Canadian Armed Forces. But despite that, until recently, the Canadian Army didn’t have a standardized approach to supporting and caring for soldiers throughout the organization.

Canadian Army Personnel Policy Officer Major Jeff Manley had the lead on developing the new directive, and oversaw its implementation.

Insert 00:08:27:13 – 00:08:55:11 So I’ve been working on a new policy, it’s an interim directive for the Canadian Army and it deals with the care and support of our ill and injured. It came into effect in December and we’ve been executing it for the last several months. And this is at the same time that the Chief of Military Personnel is undergoing its own review of the JPSU structure.

It can be easy for soldier care to get lost among all the other priorities a commanding officer has to keep track of in running a unit—and even the best-intentioned COs can be overwhelmed by a lack of resources or staff. The new policy aims to fill that void by laying out a systematic process for supporting ill and injured soldiers and putting it into a workable context.

Insert 00:12:17:00 – 00:12:34:16 We’ve offered five lines of effort in a very sequential and logical manner which gives chains of command tools and a structure to fall back on when they’re trying to organize their own personnel support strategies.

Prioritized in the new policy are education surrounding soldier support, early intervention for ill and injured members, seamless transition into and out of Army units, continuous engagement between units and ill and injured members, and dignified departure for those who can no longer continue as members of the Army.

Major Manley’s goal with the policy is to make soldier care a foundational, almost automatic part of unit operation.

Insert 00:28:33:22 – 00:28:59:05 There’s a number of different analogies that we can make when thinking about how we deal with systems and steps, but range safety, weapons handling, vehicle maintenance drills, prepping for exercises, all good examples of—we have taken a process and we’ve made it part of our lives, part of our daily battle rhythm.

Laying out a standardized procedure for soldier care is intended to make the recovery process for ill and injured soldiers smoother and more sustainable. One of the major focuses of the new directive is setting out standard practices for the transition and reintegration of injured Army members between Integrated Personnel Support Centres and their units.

Insert 00:14:05:07 – 00:14:20:20 We are bringing our units back to realizing the fundamental significance of investing in our people, and that investment has to happen at the lowest level, and it has to happen as early as possible.

Insert 00:29:51:10 – 00:30:08:21 It’s my hope that this directive… it does make a difference, and it is determined to be sustainable and successful in making the lives of Canadian Armed Forces soldiers better.