Veteran shocked by 'wellness check' performed by SWAT team
A military veteran in Cape Breton says it takes too long for vets to get the medication to treat PTSD.
Darrell Hulme has been told it will be another 45 days before he gets the medication he needs.
Three days ago Cape Breton Regional Police surrounded Hulme’s home and shut down his entire neighbourhood in Howie Centre after he told Veterans Affairs he was having suicidal thoughts. Veterans Affairs called the police to ask them to do a "wellness check," but the response shocked Hulme.
Inside, the 39 year-old Hulme says he was both surprised and embarrassed.
“It’s a pretty dramatic thing to go through to have the SWAT team show up at your house and get arrested, when you're struggling already and just trying to get some help,” Hulme said.
Hulme has a letter from a doctor diagnosing him with PTSD. Hulme treats it with the medical marijuana he receives from Veterans Affairs, but he has to reapply every year and that has led to a long delay in his getting his prescription.
The wait is taking its toll.
“It's horrible,” says his girlfriend Michelle Sharpe. “It puts a strain on our relationship for sure. He's not sleeping at night. He's not able to do the things he usually does. He can't get up and go to the gym, go to the grocery store.”
In February 2004, while Hulme was transporting heavy machinery for the military, he witnessed a fatal accident and was first on scene.
“That's what triggered my PTSD,” Hulme said.“I went down and the car was upside down. I kicked the windows out. There was a six month old baby upside down in a car seat, so that's what I went for first. I wrapped the baby up in my military jacket and sat there on the side of the road and held the mom until she passed away.”
Hulme stayed in the military for 10 years after the accident and says medical marijuana has improved his quality of life. But now he's concerned about the treatment he's received from Veterans Affairs and the delay with his prescription.
“It sucks, because now I have this big distrust for Veterans Affairs,” Hulme said. “If they are going to take my medicine away and call me a week after they do so, to do a wellness check, and you're honest with them, you get the swat team at your home.”
Hulme says he hasn't been given any answers as too why it takes so long, but is worried about his own safety if he doesn't receive his medication soon.
Cape Breton Regional Police say they did not charge Hulme and they were only concerned for his safety.
In an e-mail, Veterans Affairs Canada wrote this:
"We would like to reiterate that the health and wellbeing of veterans is a top priority for the government of Canada. Decisions about which treatments to use are made between patients and their health-care professionals. The role of Veterans Affairs Canada is to reimburse medical treatments authorized by the veteran's physician or health-care practitioner."
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore.