Ruck­ing for vet­er­ans

4th Road to Re­cov­ery put on by Ruck to Re­mem­ber de­parts Petawawa for Kanata

The Daily Observer - - FRONT PAGE - STEPHEN UHLER

PETAWAWA – It was a beau­ti­ful day for a long march.

Un­der sunny skies and sum­mer-like tem­per­a­tures, five men hit the road Thurs­day morn­ing, head­ing out from the Petawawa Le­gion to be­gin four days of walk­ing with 20 to 30 pound packs on their backs.

Over the course of four days, the group is walk­ing ap­prox­i­mately 150 kilo­me­tres to Kanata, stay­ing over at Le­gion branches in Cob­den, Ren­frew and Arn­prior be­fore wrap­ping ev­ery­thing up at the Kanata Le­gion Sept. 18.

This is the fourth Road to Re­cov­ery event, put on by the not-for-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion Ruck 2 Re­mem­ber, to raise funds for Op­er­a­tion: Leave The Streets Be­hind, which helps vet­er­ans, po­lice and first re­spon­ders.

Op­er­a­tion: Leave The Streets Be­hind is a reg­is­tered char­ity that works to tran­si­tion vet­er­ans off the streets into sus­tain­able hous­ing, work­ing hand in hand with the Royal Cana­dian Le­gion to help get the vet­eran in need long-term fund­ing, work, hous­ing and sup­port as needed. To date, the pro­gram has as­sisted 525 vet­er­ans in more than 117 com­mu­ni­ties in­clud­ing 93 in the Ot­tawa re­gion.

The char­ity is man­aged by the Royal Cana­dian Le­gion and 100 per cent of the pro­ceeds of this event go to­wards the vet­er­ans. It is also known as the Joe Sweeney Fund.

Dave Gor­don, chair­man of the Royal Cana­dian Le­gion’s Home­less Vet­er­ans Pro­gram, Vet­eran Ser­vices/ Se­niors, said the Le­gion has been par­tic­i­pat­ing in three of the four Road to Re­cov­ery events, which has proved to be a fruit­ful part­ner­ship. He said the goal this year is to raise $35,000, which he is con­fi­dent Ruck 2 Re­mem­ber will ac­com­plish.

“Our role is to set up con­tacts with var­i­ous Le­gion branches along the route,” he said. Each branch in­volved pro­vides a place for the marchers to sleep, plus hosts a fundrais­ing event and sends the group off fol­low­ing a good break­fast.

The Le­gion’s home­less vet­er­ans pro­gram started as a pi­lot project in Toronto back in 2012. Part­nered with Vet­er­ans Af­fairs, Gor­don said it was learned just how big a prob­lem this is, so the home­less ini­tia­tive be­came a na­tion-wide ef­fort.

He said in Pem­broke and Petawawa, the pro­gram re­ceived 20 ap­pli­ca­tions for as­sis­tance – which are vet­ted to en­sure the ap­pli­cants are in­deed for­mer ser­vice men and women - of which 16 in to­tal were met. Most of what is re­quired is hous­ing, help with rent and/or util­i­ties, den­tal care, and help­ing get­ting a pre­vi­ously home­less vet set up in a new place, in­clud­ing food, sup­plies and fur­ni­ture.

“We’ve in­vested $25,000 in this com­mu­nity (of Pem­broke and Petawawa) so far,” Gor­don said. To date, the Le­gion’ s home­less vet pro­gram,through sup­port of the Leg ions and their Ladies Aux­il­iaries, has so far dis­persed $1.55 mil­lion na­tion­wide.

He said the Le­gion is so pleased to be able to be a part of this ef­fort and the Road to Re­cov­ery, which raises both funds and aware­ness of home­less vet­er­ans.

“This is a great pro­gram, and it keeps build­ing and build­ing ,” Gor­don said. “It is im­por­tant to them and us to help out vet­er­ans.”

Lino Di Julio, the founder of Ru ck 2 Re­mem­ber, said it be­gan in the sum­mer of 2014, when vol­un­teers took par tina ru ck march over a dis­tance of 303 kilo­me­tres within a week. Th­ese vol­un­teers rucked 158 bricks from Hamil­ton, On­tario, to the Le­gion Hall in Parry Sound, On­tario.

Each brick was en­graved with the name of a Cana­dian sol­dier killed in Afghanistan, and the event was used to cre­ate aware­ness and sup­port for Post-Trau­matic Stress Dis­or­der (PTSD) and to raise funds to build a re­treat in Parry Sound for PTSD. This event was ti­tled the Road To Re­cov­ery.

“We re­ally didn’t have a plan that first year,” Di Julio said, just a strong idea of re­mem­ber­ing sol­diers and aware­ness of the trau­mas some of them were go­ing through.

Cut­ting ties with a non-profit group which as­sisted in the first event, the Ruck 2 Re­mem­ber and its Road to Re­cov­ery hooked up with the Le­gion with the aim of fo­cus­ing on help­ing to sup­port home­less vet­er­ans. It has been a part­ner­ship which has worked re­ally well.

“When I got the ini­tial num­ber of vet­er­ans they helped, it was as­ton­ish­ing,” Di Julio said. In Hamil­ton alone, the Le­gion’s pro­grams had as­sisted 42 vet­er­ans.

He said in Canada, there doesn’t seem to be a strong mil­i­tary cul­ture, and so this is­sue doesn’t come up a lot. On top of that, those who serve or served in the mil­i­tary tend to keep to them­selves and their peers, and rarely if ever dis­cuss their prob­lems with civil­ians.

“They re­ally are two dis­tinct en­ti­ties,” Di Julio said, and pointed out how events like Road to Re­cov­ery can help bridge the gap be­tween the civil­ian and mil­i­tary worlds. He said the Royal Cana­dian Le­gion pro­vides an at­mos­phere to ed­u­cate both sides on how the other works.

If any­one wants to learn more about the event and how to do­nate to it, go to www.ruck­2re­mem­ber.com/road-to-re­cov­ery.html and fol­low the team on Face­book (ruck.to.re­mem­ber) and In­sta­gram (ruck_ to_re­mem­ber) where they will be live post­ing over course of the event from Sept. 14 to Sept. 18.

STEPHEN UHLER/DAILY OB­SERVER

Lino Di Julio, founder of Ruck 2 Re­mem­ber, leads the way down Petawawa Boule­vard, fol­lowed by Dave Mer­riott, just be­hind him, and Nathan Des­bor­ough, in back, as they em­bark Thurs­day morn­ing on their fourth an­nual Road to Re­cov­ery march. The marchers will travel 150 km in four days to raise money for home­less vet­er­ans. To the left, back to cam­era, Dave Gor­don, the chair­man of the Home­less Vet­er­ans Pro­gram, Vet­eran Ser­vices/Se­niors, Royal Cana­dian Le­gion, wishes them well.

STEPHEN UHLER/DAILY OB­SERVER

Mem­bers of the Ruck 2 Re­mem­ber or­ga­ni­za­tion get ready to hit the road at the Petawawa Le­gion Thurs­day morn­ing as they em­bark on their fourth an­nual Road to Re­cov­ery march. The marchers will travel 150 km in four days to raise money for home­less vet­er­ans. In the photo are, from left, Nathan Des­bor­ough, Phil Owen, Wayne Ben­nett (Zone G-7 Com­man­der, Royal Cana­dian Le­gion), Dave Gor­don (chair­man, Home­less Vet­er­ans Pro­gram, Vet­eran Ser­vices/Se­niors, Royal Cana­dian Le­gion), Dave Mer­riott, Noel Gra­cie and Lino Di Julio, founder of Ruck 2 Re­mem­ber.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.