A retired Moncton Mountie who has been suffering in silence with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for years has decided to talk publicly about his struggles after he says RCMP red tape almost prevented him from getting a service award.
Earlier this week Mark Clements decided not to attend an RCMP awards ceremony honouring long-serving RCMP officers, because being around other officers, he said, is a trigger for his anxiety. Clements spent 25 years serving as an RCMP officer and eventually as an investigator with the Codiac Regional RCMP.
Clements said he requested to RCMP that his 25 year service medal be sent to him in the mail. He said initially his request was denied and he was told that failing to attend the ceremony would mean that he was declining the award.
“I know they say they have changed. But just with this medal thing they haven’t changed,” Clements said. “It would have cost them less than five bucks to put it in the mail.”
Clements said he saw the denial as a lack of compassion for an officer suffering from post traumatic stress.
The provincial RCMP declined comment on the matter citing privacy issues.
‘It’s like I was a pot boiling over’
Clements said he spent 25 years in the RCMP and that his symptoms of PTSD started to intensify while he was serving as a major crimes investigator in Moncton.
“It’s like I was a pot boiling over,” Clements said.
His wife, Debby, said he became increasing irritable and withdrawn as the years drew on. She said trying to cope with the changes in her husband was hard on their marriage.
“It nearly destroyed us,” Debby said. “We have remained so quiet for so long that it’s felt very, very alone for all of us.”
Clements said he was eventually diagnosed with PTSD and then went on medical leave in 2012 and officially retired in February 2016. He said it was a tough decision and he got criticism from other members.
“I even got emails from members when I was looking for help telling me to basically suck it up.”
He said he was offered counselling and support through RCMP channels, but he preferred to seek help outside of the force.
“I didn’t like dealing with the health services in the RCMP about my personal health cause I always felt that should be separate from work because it’s private,” Clements said.
His struggle to get his service medal acted as a catalyst that made him speak openly about his battle with PTSD and the stress and anxiety that comes with it.
“A lot of members won’t talk because they don’t want things to come out.” said Clements.
Medal in the mail
Email correspondence provided by Clements to Global News did show the RCMP tried to accommodate Clements by suggesting he get his medal in a more private venue from one of the superior officers.
But on Thursday morning, the RCMP changed their minds. Officials contacted Clements to inform him they would break from protocol and send the medal to their home as requested.