This week, Canadian Men’s Health Week, is a time to focus on the health of the men in our lives and work towards improving men’s and family health in Canada. Men frequently ignore their own health and well being, often with detrimental effects. For veterans and first responders suffering from PTSD, ignoring the symptoms or avoiding treatment usually has dire consequences for both the sufferer and their families. Camp Aftermath seeks to help veterans and first responders afflicted with PTSD to lead healthier lives through our three phase, one year program. This program is predicated on volunteerism, which helps our participants regain a sense of purpose that is sometimes lost after leaving the military or being off work. Our first rotation (Roto 1) took place this past March, with Phase 1 beginning in Ottawa, Phase 2 taking place in Costa Rica, and Phase 3 continuing right now, mainly online through regular VTCs.
During Roto 1, we sat down with Camp Aftermath Roto 1 participant Stephane Joly to get his thoughts on his participation in our program. Stephane Joly is a sixteen-year veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces. He served in the infantry with the 22nd Regiment from CFB Valcartier, the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM), and finally retired as an instructor at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School, located at the Saint-Jean Garrison in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec.
Stephane was deployed four times during his military career: Once to Bosnia and three times to Afghanistan.
Stephan first heard about Camp Aftermath through Warrior Adventures Canada’s chairperson, John Watson. He was immediately drawn to the program because it “helped us give to others in a way which created empathy for others”. Having the ability to look into the eyes of the people he was helping in Costa Rica provided a sense of purpose which Stephane described as his favorite part of the trip.
Stephane suggests that future participants keep an open mind when enrolling in Camp Aftermath, as it will provide a variety of tools to live a healthy lifestyle from which one can choose from.
“You will take a little bit of everything that is suggested and then you make that your own. In that capacity, Camp Aftermath has provided me with ways of becoming motivated to move forward in all aspects of my life.”
Stephane sees what he has learned from his experiences in Camp Aftermath as tools in his toolbox to deal with stressful situations which may arise in the future. He appreciates Camp Aftermath’s approach of holding each participant accountable to use the tools gained and not become reliant on external forces for mental relief. Stephane plans to volunteer three days a week at a local church with a food bank to continue his volunteerism efforts as a way of dealing with mental anguish.
“My hope is that Camp Aftermath gains traction and continues to help veterans by bringing them out of isolation.”
How you can help
There are currently many amazing programs that focus on helping veterans and first responders suffering from PTSD. If you believe in our cause, please help us make a difference in the lives of five military veterans and first responders slated to experience our three-phased program in early 2019. You can donate to our campaign on Canada Helps.