I only had a high school education, I grew up in a rural area, and didn’t have much money to pay for a college education. I didn’t want to take a student loan and get stuck in the cyclical system of working to pay off my education, and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do – I had worked in several industries between ages 17 and 19 and none of them seemed to peak my interest. I was also getting to the point where societal pressures were leading me to believe that I had to select a career quickly, and the military seemed like an exciting job that would pay me to become educated. It offered the chance for me to develop a diverse set of skills, all the while gaining the success of my my family, friends, and society.
In the beginning I thought the military would give me not only the sense of identity of being a Canadian soldier, but also might offer fellowship and comradry that I was longing for. I didn’t fit-in in school, and to a certain degree the military offered a family. Later on when I began to struggle with alcoholism, the more I struggled, the more ostracized and ridiculed I became, which then lead to more drinking. This cycle continued until my confidence and self esteem were so poor, my dignity non-existent ,and my anxiety of being on base had reached its peak. It was at that point that I sought the help I needed and was released from the military.
Towards the end of my military career I had been recovering from alcohol and met with some individuals running an organization called Holistic Veterans, which helped veterans have a place of belonging by teaching a number of holistic healing modalities to help vets and first responders recover from PTSD and substance abuse.
I found the entire trip to be an amazing healing experience; we traveled from one end of Costa Rica to the other. In my opinion, the philanthropy approach is the most effective form of healing because it takes one out of their own head, from the cyclical thoughts that may have been causing them issues, whilst giving back to a community that is so grateful. All the while doing it with woman and men that can relate with one another’s trials and tribulations.
My overall experience with Camp Aftermath during the 2018 Orientation Trip was extremely pleasant. Everyone was extremely accepting of my character flaws and issues, and in doing so I felt acceptance for being me. The work we did with the children of Costa Rica in particular gave me a sense of accomplishment and overall well-being. I would suggest Camp Aftermath to anyone!