Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) sparked outrage last week when a worker reportedly recommended to consider medical assistance in dying (MAID).
The suggestion is said to have come unprompted by the worker, with the veteran only seeking help for a traumatic brain injury.
Public outcry soon emerged from veteran advocates, politicians, and members of the public.
Among them is Mark Meincke, an Okotokian veteran and host of Operation Tango Romeo, the Trauma Recovery Podcast.
One of his concerns upon learning about the incident was whether or not other veterans have had similar experiences with VAC.
Meincke believes other veterans may come forward with similar experiences, comparing the situation to incidences of sexual misconduct, where victims are often more open to relaying their experiences after a single person comes forward.
"If it's happened to one it's hard to believe that this veteran is the first one. We have to be absolutely certain that there's not a string of damage... Most people don't come forward, most people don't shake the tree, notify the press. Most people don't."
An internal investigation is underway, though Meincke reached out to Foothills MP John Barlow, who put him in touch with Shadow Minister for Veteran's Affairs, Frank Caputo, in order to call for an external investigation.
"When you investigate yourself, you tend to find yourself innocent."
At the moment, MAID is not available to individuals with mental illness as their underlying condition, but that's set to change in March of 2023.
Meincke would like to see a definitive statement from VAC that when that time comes, it won't be employed for veterans in need.
"What Veterans Affairs is stating now is that they have nothing to do with the MAID program, they don't promote it, and don't have a function with carrying it out. But that's today. In March of next year, will Veterans Affairs be a part of it at that time? Will it be a service at that time, or will we hear from them that they will never facilitate and never push this?"
Many fear that MAID could be wielded irresponsibly, especially after this incident.
"We don't want this to be promoted for budgetary reasons. When you're vulnerable and you're suffering, to have somebody in a lab coat, a trusted professional suggesting assisted suicide, all of a sudden it becomes a much more viable option because it's coming from a trusted authority, a medical professional. The doctors are in an incredibly powerful position with vulnerable people, so are psychologists and psychiatrists... When you're trying to hang on by the skin of your teeth to not have suicidal thoughts, there's just not much ability to fight that suggestion from a medical professional."
Meincke knows firsthand that seeking help can be incredibly difficult for veterans.
"Most people only ask for help once. That first time that people put their hand up is incredibly tough. Most people actually never put their hand up and often end up in a life of alcoholism, homelessness, or suicide. If you've finally mustered up the courage to put your hand up and ask for help and the response is anything but supportive, chances are you'll never ask for help again."