More work to be done, PTSD ad­vo­cate says

Ser­vice dog in­ci­dent in Cor­ner Brook shows need for more aware­ness, vet­eran says

The Telegram (St. John’s) - - FRONT PAGE - SALTWIRE NET­WORK COR­NER BROOK

Cpl. Jamie Mcwhirter knows he still has a lot of work to do in ad­vo­cat­ing for peo­ple with post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der (PTSD).

An in­ci­dent at the Val­ley Mall in Cor­ner Brook drives home the need for greater aware­ness.

On Sun­day Cor­ner Brook vet­eran Mike Rude his ser­vice dog, Spark, was not per­mit­ted in the mall, lo­cated in down­town Cor­ner Brook. Rude ex­plained to the mall em­ployee that Spark was a ser­vice dog and pro­vided proof, but he was still told he had to leave the premises.

Macwhirter, a Cor­ner Brook na­tive who now lives in St. John’s, is the au­thor of “A Sol­dier Re­turns: My Bat­tle with PTSD.” He is heav­ily in­volved in ed­u­cat­ing peo­ple about the ill­ness through a sup­port group called PTSD Bud­dies.

Macwhirter he fig­ures who­ever told Rude to leave didn’t have knowl­edge about what a ser­vice dog is, what PTDS is or how it can be a tough chal­lenge for fam­i­lies to cope.

He said ser­vice dogs are al­lowed to go any­where and peo­ple have to be­come more ed­u­cated on the sub­ject be­cause there have so many re­cent in­stances of vet­er­ans be­ing de­nied ac­cess with a ser­vice

dog to ev­ery­thing from fer­ries and court­rooms to air­planes.

“It’s either peo­ple aren’t read­ing the news or I’m not do­ing a good enough job get­ting it across New­found­land,” he said.

He be­lieves busi­nesses who deal with the pub­lic should look at get­ting em­ploy­ees to

get in­volved in men­tal ill­ness train­ing to be bet­ter pre­pared for sit­u­a­tions like the one that un­folded with Rude.

Trudy Brod­er­ick, prop­erty man­ager of the Val­ley Mall would not do an in­ter­view, but she is­sued a state­ment through email Fri­day af­ter­noon.

Brod­er­ick said she met with Rude’s wife the day af­ter the in­ci­dent hap­pened. She said she con­veyed to her the mall is sorry that ac­cess to our shop­ping cen­tre was de­nied to her hus­band.

“I stated that our em­ployee should have fol­lowed our

pol­icy in al­low­ing ser­vice dogs into the build­ing,” she wrote. “I apol­o­gized for all the trou­ble caused to her and her hus­band, and I tried to re­as­sure her that this would not hap­pen in the fu­ture.”

DIANE CROCKER PHOTO

Mike Rude and his ser­vice dog, Spark. Rude says he was re­cently told he couldn’t be in the Val­ley Mall in Cor­ner Brook with Spark.

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