Le­gion re­minds vet­er­ans, ser­vice mem­bers that help is avail­able

The Compass - - OPINION -

The Pro­vin­cial Com­mand of The Royal Cana­dian Le­gion and its more than 4,000 mem­bers has a long and proud tra­di­tion of as­sist­ing vet­er­ans and their de­pen­dents.

The Le­gion was founded on three pil­lars: re­mem­brance; vet­eran care, and com­mu­nity ser­vice, and it was within these pa­ram­e­ters that in 1918 the wounded and re­turned First World War ser­vice­men es­tab­lished The Great War Vet­er­ans As­so­ci­a­tion of New­found­land, the fore­run­ner of our NL Pro­vin­cial Com­mand.

As pres­i­dent, on be­half of our mem­bers, I want to firstly ex­press our deep­est and most sin­cere con­do­lences to the fam­i­lies and loved ones of our four hero vet­er­ans who suc­cumbed to the lin­ger­ing rav­ages of war by means of sui­cide, pos­si­bly brought on by Post Traumatic Stress Dis­or­der/Op­er­a­tional Stress and per­ceived des­per­a­tion.

The chal­lenges fac­ing vet­er­ans, both serv­ing and af­ter re­lease, are wide­spread and have uniquely de­vel­oped through the roles and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties they take on while serv­ing.

Some Cana­dian Forces and RCMP mem­bers may have suf­fered grave wounds, loss of col­leagues and friends, op­er­a­tional stress in­juries, men­tal health chal­lenges, and dif­fi­cul­ties tran­si­tion­ing to civil­ian life. The Le­gion is there to sup­port them, just as we have al­ways been, through our abil­ity to of­fer ca­ma­raderie at our branches, and more im­por­tantly our Ser­vice Of­fi­cer Net­work that can con­nect vet­er­ans to the help they need.

Of­ten, the big­gest chal­lenge in the vet­eran’s com­mu­nity is get­ting in­for­ma­tion and as­sis­tance to those who need it and iden­ti­fy­ing those in­di­vid- uals in our neigh­bour­hoods that need sup­port. Our lo­cal Le­gion branches are the “boots-on-the­ground” con­nect­ing vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies with avail­able funds and pro­grams. Here are some facts: • our mis­sion is to care for all vet­er­ans, in­clud­ing serv­ing Cana­dian Forces and RCMP mem­bers, as well as their fam­i­lies;

• our Ser­vice Of­fi­cer Net­work has more than 48 of­fi­cers at ev­ery Le­gion branch across New­found­land and Labrador;

• we have a com­mand ser­vice of­fi­cer, who pro­vides as­sis­tance with ac­cess to Vet­er­ans Af­fairs dis­abil­ity ben­e­fits and ser­vices;

• vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies do not need to be Le­gion mem­bers to re­quest help from a ser­vice of­fi­cer.

Re­gard­ing sui­cide and post-traumatic stress dis­or­der:

• sui­cide is a com­plex is­sue that has many con­tribut­ing fac­tors. We can never as­sume any rea­sons for why some­one would take their own life;

• While ev­ery­one ex­pe­ri­ences PTSD dif­fer­ently, there are three main symp­toms:

1. re-ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the traumatic event;

2. avoid­ing re­minders of the trauma; and,

3. in­creased anx­i­ety and emo­tional arousal.

Mem­bers of the Cana­dian Forces, RCMP and vet­er­ans are not vi­o­lent peo­ple, they joined the ser­vices to care for and pro­tect peo­ple and the coun­try they love.

In clos­ing, on be­half of our com­mand, I im­plore, that if you are a vet­eran who needs as­sis­tance, or a per­son who is aware of a vet­eran — or a mem­ber of a vet­eran’s fam­ily who needs as­sis­tance, please call us at 753-6666 or 725-5727.

Our Pro­vin­cial Com­mand ser­vice of­fi­cer is Boyd Carter, a re­tired vet­eran of the Cana­dian Forces, and he is here to help you. We will re­mem­ber them.

— Ross Pet­ten is pres­i­dent of the New­found­land and Labrador Com­mand of the Royal Cana­dian Le­gion. He is a res­i­dent of Port de Grave.

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