'Help is available,' Gov. Gen. Johnston reminds military members in holiday message

Gov. Gen. David Johnston. (Stuart Dryden/QMI Agency)

Gov. Gen. David Johnston. (Stuart Dryden/QMI Agency)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:54 PM ET

In his Christmas message, Governor General David Johnston has offered condolences to military family members who have lost loved ones due to suicides.

"Recent tragic losses have reminded us of the stresses to which you are often exposed and of the subsequent mental health challenges that may result from military service," Johnston wrote in his message, released Tuesday.

"Help is available, and together, we must demonstrate a greater sense of responsibility to our men and women in uniform, both during and after active service."

Four soldiers died of apparent suicides earlier in December and the federal government was urged to do more to help members of the armed forces struggling with mental illness.

Master Cpl. Sylvain Lelievre, 46, was found dead Dec. 2, in his home near the Canadian Forces base in Valcartier, Que.; Warrant Officer Michael McNeil, died at the Petawawa, Ont., military base on Nov. 27; Master Cpl. William Elliott, died near the Shilo, Man., base on Nov. 25; and Master Bombardier Travis Halmrast, died on Nov. 25 in Lethbridge, Alta.

In his statement, Johnston thanked those who served around the globe in disasters such as the typhoon in the Philippines, and also here in Canada, including during severe flooding in Alberta.

"Our men and women in uniform show unwavering dedication to helping others and to upholding our democratic values. It is a responsibility that you selflessly exercise on behalf of all Canadians throughout the year, including the holiday season," he wrote.