Mental Health Resources - Testimonials

“You want to talk? I'll listen. They [soldiers] need to understand that. I feel that's the best way, if we break it down to the chain of command: when you say it, mean it. The rank is off, we're listening to what your concerns are, or what you're having difficulty with.”

Master Warrant Officer Anthony Jones

“The whole left side of my body was blown apart. As a 30-year-old man who's been in the military and done as much as I did, I thought my life was over. I really thought that things had come to an end because of how devastating and catastrophic that event was.”

“I thought that I couldn't do anything. Until this guy came in and he said that there's no such thing as can't, just unable to do at this time. If you take the time, the patience, you have the right encouragement, and you have the will, you can accomplish a lot.”

Sergeant Bjarne Nielson

“It's very difficult sometimes to speak to people that you don't think can relate to your experience. And I use tour as an example. ‘You're not going to understand what my experience is because you've never been on tour.’ I hear that a lot in our field. Well, I have been on tour, I know what it's like, so that's a perspective that I have. Now, I have a lot of civilian people working with me, and they have never experienced that. They will never experience that. But what I can tell you is that […] if you share your experience, they're open to hearing and going that journey. They don't have to live it to be able to help you deal with that.”

Michele McCashion, CAF social worker

“In the military, we're getting much better at accepting mental illness and encouraging our colleagues to go forward. There have been studies that say that the majority of us support our colleagues and definitely would encourage them to get help. But I think we're a lot harder on ourselves. I think that's the problem. We just assume that people will judge us badly, and we hold ourselves to a higher standard than we would hold our colleagues and co-workers. I think it's really important to sometimes take a step back and say well, what would I suggest to my best friend? If my best friend was suffering from the same symptoms I'm suffering from, what would I say? And I think you'd say, get your butt in and talk to somebody because you need help.”

Major Janice Magar, CAF psychiatrist

“It's an injury like any other injury. We'll break an arm and it's ‘cool’ because we get a cast and people sign it. When it's something with the head, we don't see it. In society, we still just don't understand everything about it. But our troops are starting to feel comfortable and see that the system works. The earlier you get into the system to get the help, the better your prognosis of recovery is.”

Canadian Forces Chief Warrant Officer Kevin West

“All of us, in our day-to-day lives, we see people and we say how are you. Too often, we don’t actually listen for the response or take the time to stop and let the person know that we really, genuinely want to know how they’re doing. So I think it’s about taking that pause and really connecting with people, because it’s when you spend time with them and listen to them, that they feel that they have that opportunity to be honest and connect with you.”

“I think we’re harder on ourselves than we are on other people.  We’re okay with other people getting help and we don’t judge them.  When it comes to ourselves, we’re judging ourselves much more harshly than we would others.” 

Lieutenant-Colonel Suzanne Bailey
CAF Senior Social Worker

“[Seeking treatment] is the most courageous thing I’ve ever had to do. If you break a leg, you’re going to go get a cast. Mental injuries should be the same way. The system does work. If you use the system to your advantage, use all the resources that are there, are honest with yourself, honest with your therapist and doctors, it will work. I feel great. I should have done this 20 years ago.” 

“ I’d lived with PTSD for almost 20 years, dating back to Somalia…I hid behind it and I was able to put the mask on every day, go to work, do my job, go home.  My wife could see it, but at work, they couldn’t.  I don’t understand the mechanism behind it all, but it came to a head for me after Afghanistan. I started tumbling out of control.”

Major Réjean Richard

“Leadership has an open-door policy. Soldiers can come in and talk to their leadership. Sometimes, when somebody comes and sees you, you have to take off the rank, take off the uniform, go to a neutral location and just talk. Share your experiences, because you both experience the exact same hardships.”“If you got a broken leg, you’re going to get treated.  If you have a mental illness, you have to get treated.  If you’re not mentally and physically sound, then you just can’t do your job.”

Master Warrant Officer Jason Pickard

“I was with the Canadian Airborne regiment in 1989 when an aircraft, a CC-130, crashed in Fairbanks, Alaska. Eight of my comrades died in the crash. This event, the suicide of a very good friend and an accident I had all took a toll on me. I didn’t bring these things forward. I feared the stigma and career repercussions. However, looking at it today, I should have actually brought these things forward. I should have addressed these issues by talking, by sharing them. Facilities were in place; however, I never utilized them. In retrospect, I should have done this earlier. Early intervention for me, I think would have made me more resilient.

I think my pride, my wanting to be that strong soldier, stopped me from seeking help. I used to actually tell younger troops coming in that I had all my feelings removed; however, I knew that was not true. With a culmination of events and with a really serious accident during my tour in Bosnia which still haunts me today, my life started to spiral out of control with alcohol abuse, a divorce, and financial problems. I actually ended up living in my truck for awhile. I separated that life from the military. I put my uniform on every day, sucked it up and moved forward. But when I had had enough and sought help, my chain of command supported me, the Canadian Forces supported me to move forward. It took me more energy to actually tell me bosses that I had a problem, than actually dealing with the problem. I went to the Homewood institution in Guelph, and it was one of the best things I did during the 16 years I was dealing with this problem.

After my 29-year career, I thought I had a tough skin to be that aggressive, super soldier; however, inside, I was in turmoil and it cost me my personal life. The Canadian Forces has given me help through my chain of command, they have supported me, given me my case manager, my psychiatrist, my psychologist, my addictions counsellor. They have all supported me and got me to where I am today.”

MWO Clarke

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