No Sur­ren­der Prince Harry brings his In­vic­tus Games to Toronto The Peo­ple’s Princess On the an­niver­sary of her pass­ing, we look back at Diana’s three of­fi­cial vis­its to Canada

As Prince Harry brings his In­vic­tus Games to Toronto, ser­vice­men and women are given a new sense of pur­pose

ZOOMER Magazine - - CONTENTS - By Peter Mug­geridge

THE RE­TURN­ING SOL­DIER – phys­i­cally wounded, emo­tion­ally stricken and un­able to ad­just from the the­atre of war to the re­al­ity of life – is a theme ex­plored by many of the best books and films on war. From the bleak alien­ation of Hem­ing­way’s Nick Adams to the heroic strug­gles of the char­ac­ters in The Best Years of Our Lives to the haunted out­casts of The Deer Hunter, each dra­ma­tizes the eter­nal quandary: how can we help the men and women who’ve served in the mil­i­tary re-es­tab­lish them­selves back into ev­ery­day life?

While we cheer our troops as they go off to war, ad­mire their brav­ery on the bat­tle­field and salute their sac­ri­fice when they’re killed in ac­tion, far too of­ten we sim­ply ig­nore vet­er­ans who re­turn home scarred from bat­tle. Hav­ing served their pur­pose, the mil­i­tary jet­ti­sons them back into the for­eign land­scape of civil­ian life, leav­ing many strug­gling to cope with in­jury, de­pres­sion and un­em­ploy­ment, which can lead to sub­stance abuse and sui­cide. We avert our eyes from th­ese un­com­fort­able re­minders of the hor­rors of war, leav­ing them and their fam­i­lies to fight their per­sonal bat­tles on their own.

Al­though he would likely scoff at the sug­ges­tion, re­tired cor­po­ral Phil Badanai, a 44-year-old ex­sol­dier wounded in ac­tion who suf­fers from Post Trau­matic Stress Dis­or­der (PTSD), has experienced this fa­mil­iar fate.

In 1992, Badanai joined the Royal Cana­dian Reg­i­ment right out of high school. Two years later, when most of his peers would be par­ty­ing in col­lege, the 21-year-old found him­self serv­ing in a peace­keep­ing mis­sion in Croa­tia, then one of world’s hottest bat­tle zones.

“My part­ner and I were com­ing back from es­cort­ing some engi­neers from an ob­ser­va­tion post when we ran into about 25 Serb sol­diers on the road,” says Badanai. “They opened up fire on us. I got hit twice, my part­ner seven times. I man­aged to drive back to the med­i­cal sta­tion about 20 kilo­me­tres away,” he re­calls, in the mat­ter-of-fact way mil­i­tary peo­ple of­ten use when de­scrib­ing what to us would be the most har­row­ing of ex­pe­ri­ences.

Badanai served two more tours in Bos­nia and later re­mus­tered with the Air Force, be­com­ing a fire­fighter. But his dreams haunted him, and he could never es­cape the psy­cho­log­i­cal ef­fects of hav­ing been shot – in 2004, he was di­ag­nosed with PTSD and, in 2008, he was re­leased

for med­i­cal rea­sons.

Still a young man, he was sud­denly thrust back into civil­ian life, strug­gling with his con­di­tion and try­ing to adapt to life out­side of the armed forces. “I grew up in the mil­i­tary – they’re the ones who raised me. To leave that was hard. It was all I’d known.”

Al­though he was lucky to land a good job – he now serves as a fire safety in­spec­tor at Bom­bardier Aero­space in Toronto – he still hasn’t fully ac­cepted the nine-tofive life­style. “It’s just not the same,” he says. “I miss be­ing cold and mis­er­able and ev­ery­thing suck­ing. All my best stories start with me be­ing cold and mis­er­able … and get­ting shot at. Call me weird, but that’s what I miss.”

Learn­ing to live with the hor­rific mem­o­ries of the shoot­ing, not to men­tion the shrap­nel still lodged in his back, has been an frus­trat­ing process. He’s constantly aware some­thing’s miss­ing: “The group, the ca­ma­raderie, the mil­i­tary at­ti­tude are all miss­ing. I’m still try­ing to fig­ure it all out.”

It’s the plight of count­less vets like Badanai that prompted Michael Burns to do more to im­prove the lives of the men and women who had sac­ri­ficed so much to serve our coun­try.

“About a decade ago, a friend of mine, Peter Dawe, lost his son Matthew [one of four Dawe boys serv­ing in the mil­i­tary] to a road­side bomb in Afghanistan. On the drive home from the fu­neral, I thought long and hard about what I wasn’t do­ing to sup­port our mil­i­tary fam­i­lies.”

Armed with a back­ground in mar­ket­ing and fi­nan­cial tech­nol­ogy start-ups, Burns co-founded the True Pa­triot Love Foun­da­tion (TPL), a na­tional char­ity that would raise money for mil­i­tary fam­i­lies. En­cour­aged by the out­pour­ing of sup­port after its first fundrais­ing event, us­ing TPL as a driv­ing force, Burns put in a bid for the 2017 In­vic­tus Games, a com­pe­ti­tion cre­ated by Prince Harry that uses the power of sport to help ill or in­jured ser­vice­men and women on their jour­ney to re­cov­ery.

The prince launched the in­au­gu­ral In­vic­tus Games in Lon­don in 2014. Mod­elled on the U.S.-based War­rior Games, the Games pit­ted ac­tive duty and service mem­bers from al­lied coun­tries in adap­tive sport­ing con­tests.

The mo­ti­va­tion be­hind th­ese games came from Prince Harry’s ex­pe­ri­ence as an of­fi­cer in the Bri­tish forces. For years after the tragic death of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, Harry searched and fi­nally found a mis­sion that gave him pur­pose in life, serv­ing as a he­li­copter pi­lot in Afghanistan, which in­cluded air­lift­ing in­jured troops to hospi­tal. “I con­vinced my­self for 10 years that, while I was there, I was one of the lads. I was do­ing a job and I had a role.”

In Afghanistan, he wasn’t shielded from the ugly face of war. “I fer­ried hor­ri­bly in­jured troops to hospi­tal,” Prince Harry told the Bri­tish press. “How, I thought, do you ease their trauma and give new mean­ing to their shat­tered lives? Then it hit me – sport.”

The Prince’s re­cent ad­mis­sion of strug­gling with re­pressed emo­tions brought on by not deal­ing with grief – which led to anx­i­ety and “to­tal chaos” – gives him in­sight into the hur­dles many ex-mil­i­tary face find­ing a pur­pose in life, which he found by serv­ing his coun­try. “Ev­ery­body who is in the mil­i­tary and then leaves needs to be con­nected to some­thing,” says Prince Harry.

And he hopes that the In­vic­tus Games will act as a spring­board to bring phys­i­cal and men­tal heal-

ing. “Th­ese Games shine a spot­light on the un­con­quer­able char­ac­ter of ser­vice­men and women and their fam­i­lies,” says the prince in a video mes­sage launch­ing the Toronto Games. “You will see peo­ple who, by rights, should have died on the bat­tle­field but are now on the track com­pet­ing for gold.”

After at­tend­ing the 2016 Or­lando In­vic­tus Games, Burns grew more im­pressed. “We thought it would be pretty spe­cial if we could bring the In­vic­tus Games to Canada in our sesqui­cen­ten­nial year, as well as the 100th an­niver­sary of the Bat­tle of Vimy [one of the early defin­ing mo­ments of our na­tion],” he says.

When it was an­nounced that Toronto had won its bid for the games, Burns was ec­static. A nat­u­ral choice for CEO, he im­me­di­ately started gath­er­ing staff and vol­un­teers, many of whom had al­ready worked put­ting on ma­jor sport­ing events, such as the Van­cou­ver Olympic Games in 2010 and the Pan Am & Para­pan Am games in Toronto in 2015.

A true be­liever in the Prince’s vi­sion, Burns de­vel­oped an “in­cred­i­ble” work­ing re­la­tion­ship with Harry. And any thoughts that His Royal High­ness would be an aloof fig­ure­head dis­ap­peared quickly. “Not only has he been very ac­ces­si­ble, but the level of de­tail he brings is very im­pres­sive. He’s got strong opin­ions on the Games and how they should be pre­sented.”

Above all, Burns has been most in­spired by the prince’s hu­mil­ity. “As a vet­eran of the Bri­tish armed forces, he’s au­then­tic and real. He knows his role is to draw at­ten­tion to the Games, but he truly wants that at­ten­tion di­rected to the com­peti­tors and their fam­i­lies. And the way he in­ter­acts with the com­peti­tors and fam­i­lies – he’s just a great ambassador.”

Badanai will be one of the 550 com­peti­tors from 17 dif­fer­ent na­tions who will com­pete in Toronto’s In­vic­tus Games. “I really needed to chal­lenge my­self.” After tryouts in Van­cou­ver Is­land and Kingston, he landed a spot on the team in three events: in­door row­ing, wheel­chair rugby and wheel­chair ten­nis. (Al­though Badanai isn’t par­a­lyzed, wheel­chair sports are open to all com­peti­tors.)

The first train­ing camp in B.C. did not go smoothly. He had trouble be­ing in a mil­i­tary sur­round­ing again. Shortly after camp, he suf­fered a stroke, from which he still has lin­ger­ing is­sues, but that has never damp­ened his re­solve to com­pete.

Train­ing for In­vic­tus has given Badanai a new lease on life. “It’s been really pos­i­tive. In­vic­tus has given me fo­cus and a goal. I’m do­ing this for my­self and for my family [his wife and two sons]. I don’t want to coast. Com­pet­ing for In­vic­tus is some­thing I wanted and needed to do.”

Reawak­en­ing a la­tent sense of mis­sion in the ser­vice­men and women is what the In­vic­tus Games are all about, says Burns. “Yes, it’s a sport­ing event. But what we’re really de­liv­er­ing is ther­apy,” he says. “Th­ese are peo­ple who, three months ago, were strug­gling to get out of bed in the morn­ing. They’re hav­ing chal­lenges at home and at work, with their fam­i­lies and friends. It’s an op­por­tu­nity to once again put on a Cana­dian uni­form with a flag on their sleeve.”

And be­cause th­ese ex-mil­i­tary per­son­nel are trained to win, the com­pe­ti­tion will be fierce. Badanai says his goal for row­ing is to give it ev­ery­thing: “It’s my mil­i­tary mind­set: go hard or go home.” Burns saw this spirit over and over again at the Or­lando games.

Be­sides plan­ning a na­tional flag re­lay that will visit mil­i­tary bases across Canada, Burns is es­pe­cially en­thu­si­as­tic about the open­ing cer­e­mony, a two-hour spec­ta­cle that will draw celebri­ties, dig­ni­taries and big­name mu­si­cal acts to Toronto. The open­ing bash will be streamed live on Face­book and the events will be broad­cast to mem­ber coun­tries over the BBC, ESPN and Ital­ian, French and Aus­tralian tele­vi­sion net­works.

Burns, how­ever, would like to see as many Cana­di­ans as pos­si­ble buy tick­ets and watch the games live. “Spec­ta­tors will see a lot of things at In­vic­tus that they wouldn’t see at other games,” he prom­ises. “Th­ese men and women are trained to win on the bat­tle­field, and they bring that same in­ten­sity and that same win­ning at­ti­tude to the play­ing field. They take their sport se­ri­ously and they’re very proud. They’re not go­ing to roll over.”

Prince Harry an­nounces that Canada will be host­ing the 2017 In­vic­tus Games. Pho­tographed at the Fair­mont Royal York Ho­tel in Toronto May 2, 2016.

Man on a mis­sion: (top left) Phil Badanai in Perth, Ont., train­ing for his 1998 de­ploy­ment to Bos­nia; (right) Badanai trains for wheel­chair ten­nis; (be­low) after be­ing shot twice in Croa­tia in 1994, Badanai some­how drove this bat­tered Iltis to safety. In 1995, he was awarded the Mer­i­to­ri­ous Service Medal and named Cana­dian Peace­keeper of the Year.

Let the Games be­gin! From left to right: Michael Burns (CEO, In­vic­tus Games 2017); Cristina Martins (Ont. MPP, Davenport); Kent Hehr (min­is­ter of vet­eran af­fairs); Maj. Si­mon Mail­loux (Team Canada co-cap­tain) and Wolf­gang Hoff­mann (pres­i­dent, Jaguar Land Rover Canada) launch the ticket drive in Toronto in June.

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