OTTAWA — Global News has learned a military captain ordered the destruction of a document in a soldier’s personnel file on the day she died of a drug overdose.
Lt. Shawna Rogers died in October of 2012.
On that day, an officer sent an email to a military clerk in Edmonton telling him: “Please review Lt. Rogers CF Conduct Sheet. In my opinion, there is an entry on the record that should not be there.”
Soon after, the clerk responded: “The conduct sheet has been purged in HRMS (Human Resources Management System) and the form will be destroyed.”
“Somebody’s hiding something, for sure,” her father Rick Rogers tells Global News.
READ MORE: 27-yr-old soldier’s overdose a mystery while military withholds docs
“Was it important? It was important enough for them to destroy. And what bothers me is if they are willing to destroy that, what else are they willing to destroy.”
An official with the Department of National Defence (DND) confirms a document was erased from Shawna Rogers’ personnel file, but says the military has managed to retrieve a copy of the Conduct Sheet and it has been provided to the Alberta government — which is planning to hold a Public Fatality Inquiry into Shawna Rogers’ death.
WATCH: A grieving Alberta family is accusing the Canadian military of not following orders. Jacques Bourbeau reports (Dec. 19, 2014)
The military official says an investigation was conducted into the destruction of personnel records, but DND is unable to say what that investigation concluded.
The Roger family’s lawyer, Michel Drapeau, says he is suspicious about the timing of the order to destroy the documents.
“On the date of her death the first thing they thought of doing was issue instructions to have records purged, and records destroyed.”
He points out that military regulations spell out that soldiers’ personnel records are supposed to be kept for 10 years after their date of release from the Canadian Forces and then must be transferred to Library and Archives Canada. From Drapeau’s viewpoint, this was “unusual, illegal, never seen that before.”
Conservative Defence Critic James Bezan says it may be time for an independent investigation into why military officers were ordering the destruction of documents in a soldier’s personnel file.
“This may require a more independent review, rather than just the Provost Marshall stepping in to see what happened in the destruction of records,” he says.
Rick and Ellen Rogers have been seeking answers into the circumstances surrounding their daughter’s death for the past three years.
Shawna hurt her back in a training incident and her family says the records show she was given large amounts of painkillers by military doctors.
They allege this turned Shawna into an addict, leading to her eventual overdose.
WATCH: Circumstances surrounding soldier’s death kept secret. Jacques Bourbeau reports. (Oct. 21, 2014)
A military Board of Inquiry was conducted into her death, but the conclusions have not been shared with the family. The Alberta government agreed to hold its own inquiry after the Rogers family lobbied for it.
However, DND has been slow to hand over documents. At one point, the defence minister had to intervene and tell the department to cooperate.
At this point, no date has been set for the inquiry to begin.
The assurance by DND that they managed to find a copy of the destroyed record does not allay the concerns of the Rogers family.
They say they don’t trust the military and there is no guarantee that the document the military found is the same one that was destroyed.
“The army is almost rogue,” says Rick Rogers. “They can do whatever the heck they want. They tie things up and they just say well, if we make it last a long time they’ll go away. Well, the bottom line is I’m not going away.”