Veterans Affairs Canada has refused to disclose to an inquiry its internal review of how it handled the tragic case of Lionel Desmond, the Afghanistan war veteran from Nova Scotia who fatally shot three family members and himself in 2017.
The provincial fatality inquiry has been told by federal lawyers the review is beyond the inquiry’s terms of reference — an assertion that raises questions about the inquiry’s ability to determine what happened and how to prevent similar tragedies.
The inquiry has heard Desmond served as a combat soldier in 2007, was diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder and major depression in 2011 and received more than four years of treatment before he left the Canadian Armed Forces in 2015.
At that point, Desmond’s care became the responsibility of Veterans Affairs Canada, which appointed a case manager to help him overcome barriers to his mental and physical wellness.
The inquiry was supposed to hear today from that case manager, Marie-Paule Doucette, but her appearance was postponed when the inquiry learned about Veterans Affairs’ decision to withhold the results of its review.
Doucette’s evidence is considered key to the hearings because the inquiry has yet to hear from any Veterans Affairs employee who dealt directly with Desmond.
Instead, the inquiry heard testimony today from a senior manager in the department, Lee Marshall, who provided details about various protocols and services.
Marshall confirmed Desmond received $126,561 in financial benefits after he was medically discharged from the military, which included a series of lump sum payments for his disabilities and other financial benefits.
Marshall also provided details about the role of case managers, who are assigned to veterans facing physical or mental-health barriers while trying to reintegrate into civilian life.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 20, 2021.
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