Ombudsman Message – Support to Bereaved Military Families

Message from the Ombudsman | April 25, 2017

In April 2015, after conducting a systemic investigation, my office concluded that families should be given the option of engagement throughout the Board of Inquiry (BOI) process via a means of their choosing. Previously, there was a distinct lack of clarity in the BOI process with respect to the role of the family, and many were either ill-informed during an ongoing inquiry, or worse, left searching for answers after it was concluded. This lack of closure, especially in the case of a BOI struck to investigate matters surrounding the death of a Canadian Armed Forces member, caused families unnecessary pain and suffering.

However, our office also concluded that there was also not enough existing data and family feedback in which to base a set of recommendations pointing a clear way forward for the Canadian Armed Forces. After a year of additional work with the Director of Military Family Services, our office was able to gather the necessary data and feedback to make further recommendations to improve the process and better engage family members throughout. These are evidence-based recommendations that both the Minister and the Chief of the Defence Staff have accepted and will move to implement.

While Boards of Inquiry are often struck as the result of tragic circumstances, the recommendations coming out of our two reports represent a good news story both by placing a renewed focus on the military family, as well as demonstrating the ability of the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces and this office to work collaboratively on an issue so important to the military community.

I would like to thank all those from my office and those in the Department for their tireless work on this report. The Office of the Ombudsman’s purpose is to improve the lives of the defence community. This report embodies our unwavering commitment to serve you.


Gary Walbourne

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