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Local man again taking part in Battlefield Bike Run

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Local man again taking part in Battlefield Bike Run

Post by pinger on Mon 30 May 2016, 17:19

A pretty slick article, Tx for posting that Trooper.
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New theory roots PTSD in the loneliness of coming home

Post by Guest on Mon 30 May 2016, 15:46

What if PTSD is located not in the trauma of combat, but in the transition back to modern life

Brian Bethune
May 30, 2016

Sebastian Junger wants to talk about a paradox. U.S. combat mortality rates have been dropping exponentially for 70 years while disability claims have skyrocketed. The 21st-century army suffers deaths at only a third of the rate of its Vietnam-era predecessor, but files for disability three times more often than Vietnam vets. In part, the opposing trends are entirely predictable: medical advances mean severely wounded soldiers survive more often but are in need of life-long care. But it’s the nature of the claims that preoccupies Junger. The American military currently has the highest reported post-traumatic stress disorder rate in its history—probably, Junger reckons, the highest in the world. Roughly half of Iraq and Afghanistan war vets have applied for permanent PTSD disability. Yet combat troops make up only 10 per cent of the army, the prominent journalist adds in an interview, “so the remaining 40 per cent has to be explained by something other than trauma” in combat.

That something else, Junger argues in Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, lies in the psychological shock American vets encounter at home, rooted in the vast gulf between the essentially tribal nature of war and modern, individualistic societies. Contemporary culture’s failure to properly reintegrate those who suffer danger and trauma on its account—not just soldiers but emergency personnel and others—is not a matter of misapplied funding or mental health care, but of modernity’s inability to offer a communal bond that matches the veterans’ intense experiences. Humans don’t mind hardship, Junger writes, as much as they mind feeling useless, and “modern society has perfected the art of making people not feel necessary.”

Junger, 54, is still most famous for The Perfect Storm, his 1997 bestseller about Massachusetts fishermen lost at sea, but since then his focus has been on men at war, in the award-winning documentary films Restrepo and Korengal and his book War (2010), all dealing with Afghanistan. Pondering the PTSD claims and his own experiences—including a brief bout of PTSD after he first returned to America in 2000 from Afghanistan, where he was “embedded” with an Afghan leader—have led him to the most personal book of his career. Tribe is framed by an event that has remained alive in his memory for 30 years. Hitchhiking outside Gillette, Wyo., in 1986, Junger watched as a dishevelled man walked up the on-ramp from town toward him. The visitor asked Junger if he had any food; fearing robbery, Junger lied and said he didn’t. The older man, who explained he lived in a broken-down car in Gillette and had seen Junger pass by, gave the author, then 24 years old, the lunch a local church had provided him: “Just wanted to make sure you were okay.”

Related: “I am still alive. This is my thank-you letter.”

If home is where they have to take you in, Junger now reasons, then tribe may well be defined as “people you feel compelled to share the last of your food with. I don’t know why that man put me in his tribe, why he took responsibility for me, but it was a life-long lesson in generosity.”

In Tribe, Junger combines those lessons with not-entirely-random historical facts: the way defection along colonial North America’s ever-roiling frontier virtually always went from European to Native; how crime dropped in post-9/11 New York and mental health indicators improved during the London Blitz. He filters them all through the PTSD epidemic, which he uses as a “lens to look at the failures of modern life.” The result is jarring, thought-provoking and politically resonant all at once.

Junger does not mean to romanticize tribal life, certainly not the endemic warfare, torture and violent death that was as prevalent between Native groups as it was in European-Native conflict. (He’s descended from a woman who hid with her baby boy—his ancestor—in a cornfield in western Pennsylvania in 1781 while a raiding party killed her older sons.) But he does want readers to consider its virtues—the way a million years of hominid evolution has suited us to it, psychologically and emotionally—much as colonial-era thinkers did. Benjamin Franklin was not the only one to question why Native children “brought up among us and habituated to our customs” fled to the wilderness at the first opportunity, or why white captives, ransomed home by relatives, also tended to run back.

Sometimes observers in racially stratified colonies acknowledged the Native indifference to skin tone as a factor, how white members were accepted as tribal equals in a way Native children rarely were among settlers. For European female captives, whose even greater tendency to prefer Native life troubled colonists, the advantages went further. “I am the equal of all the women in the tribe,” one white woman told a French official. “I shall marry if I wish and be unmarried again when I wish. Is there a single woman as independent as I in your cities?”

Tribalism’s inherent egalitarianism, its place for everyone in war and peace, compares favourably with modern culture’s atomism, argues Junger. Social resilience, as it is known, is a better predictor of trauma recovery, according to studies cited by Junger, than individual resilience. Soldiers find this emotional support, at tribal-level intensity, in a military unit’s cohesion, and they miss it achingly when they return home. “Part of the trauma of war is leaving it,” he writes.

Although soldiers in all First World armies returning from danger zones face the same struggles in reintegrating—a 2015 Canadian Forces study found that deployment abroad was emerging as a significant risk factor in military suicides—Junger thinks Americans face a country of exceptionally low social resilience. Inequality is growing and jobs hard to find: “Instead of being able to work and contribute to society—a highly therapeutic thing—a large percentage of vets are just offered lifetime disability payments.”

Junger’s constant circling back to the disability response is one of the factors that make Tribe impossible to read without the U.S. presidential election looming in the background. That’s true even though Junger wasn’t thinking about the age of Trump, a rough beast not yet born, when he ended his book with a reference to “this extraordinary moment in history.” (That was a nod to a more cosmic conjunction—how a species still Stone Age in its psychological and emotional impulses is on the verge of “space travel and AI.”)

But the constituency Donald Trump claims to speak for—a distressed, primarily white, working class wracked by economic uncertainty, widespread drug abuse and shrinking lifespans—provides the great majority of the 10 million American civilians on disability. As with U.S. military disability claims, the overall American rate is the highest in the First World, 9.2 per cent to the OECD average of 6.7. Disability payments, which run to more than US$200 billion yearly, are at the heart of both American conservatives’ demand for entitlement reform and Republican voters’ embrace of Trump, who has promised to preserve them. Junger—who cares far less about cost than how the label “disabled” is too often a marker of bought-off victimhood and a certification of uselessness—picks no side. But he does think the issue is a key factor in the way “what has always held us together before is breaking, and all our basic conflicts are coming to a head.” The American super-tribe, Junger fears, is dissolving into its constituent tribes, none of which seem inclined to share the last of its food with the others.

Filed under:
Editor's PicksPost-Traumatic Stress DisorderPTSDSebastian Junger


Brian Bethune
Brian Bethune writes about ideas, books and the book trade, and religion, but what really interests him is why people believe what they believe.


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Re: Local man again taking part in Battlefield Bike Run

Post by pinger on Sun 22 May 2016, 18:37

As an aside... just remember to breath...
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Veteran with PTSD offering others chance to heal with equine therapy

Post by Guest on Sun 22 May 2016, 07:40

Pilot program in Quesnel, B.C., begins Sunday with 10 veterans from across Canada

Six months after his ride across Canada, Paul Nicholls is using his ranch in Quesnel, B.C., to help veterans struggling with PTSD.

More than a year ago, Nicholls hopped on the back of his horse, Zoe, and rode all the way from Victoria to St. John's in an effort to raise PTSD awareness and show fellow veterans there is help to handle their PTSD.

Nicholls is an army veteran who struggled with PTSD after serving overseas in the 1990s, and found horse riding therapy helped him.

"We've got troops coming from across Canada ... It's about learning how we react, what our go-to reactions can be, when the stress level comes up," Nicholls told Radio West guest host Josh Pagé.

"The horses are a mirror of ourselves ... the troops understand the herd and the herd mentality. There's so many parallels between a herd of horses and a platoon of infantry, for instance. We respect strong leadership, we respect a plan, we respect a leader who will carry out that plan and be able to communicate that plan in a mindful manner."

Nicholls said the idea was developed during his cross-Canada ride, which saw veterans of contemporary wars invited to join him for stretches along the way.

"We realized we had started something way bigger than us, and it was really just a new beginning," he said. "This thing has just sort of evolved organically, and here we are today, running a program."

That program officially begins May 22 as a pilot with 10 veterans embarking on a six-day therapy program.

Nicholls says a University of Manitoba researcher will evaluate the pilot program to see if it should be expanded.


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Post by Guest on Thu 12 May 2016, 14:08

Traumatic events can leave permanent, hidden scars on the human psyche.

Soldiers, police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, dispatchers, correctional officers, journalists — anyone who experiences or witnesses trauma — are left waging an inner war for the rest of their lives.

That invisible war is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

A military veteran, Bob Grundy knows firsthand the suffering inflicted by PTSD. He served for 35 years in the Royal Canadian Air Force, all throughout Canada, as an air defence technician.

Because Bob never served in overseas combat, one might think he escaped trauma during his time with the military. That would be a mistake. He still struggles to describe a crushing array of events which led to his PTSD.

As part of his military service, Bob assisted with the search and recovery operation following the crash of SwissAir Flight 111 on Sept. 2, 1998. He has memories associated with that work that he can never forget, and was unable to express or process at the time.

Bob describes two kinds of PTSD. “There’s PTSD, and there’s complex PTSD. With complex PTSD, there’s not a single event (that causes it). It’s the adding up of a career, a series of events.”

PTSD results from a single traumatic event. Complex PTSD, however, takes longer to develop.

Bob likens cumulative stress — and one’s ability to handle it — to filling a bucket. “If you’ve only got one thing in the bucket, there’s a good chance you can handle it. A hundred things, then maybe you’re still only filling it half full. But then you add a critical, traumatic event, and that might be the thing that … puts it over the top of the bucket.”

The 12 stages identified for PTSD include any activating events which cause the initial trauma, followed by physical, emotional and spiritual pain, confusion, guilt, shame, dissipation of self-worth, anxiety, fear, anger, resentment, depression and acute anxiety.

With PTSD, external triggers — confronting something connected to the trauma – can assault any of the senses: sight, smell, taste, touch and sound. These ceaseless responses can overwhelm individuals to the point where they become suicidal.

Bob and his wife, Johan, have turned their Sable River home into Rally Point Retreat, a haven for those coping with PTSD. Through Rally Point Retreat they want to help sufferers rebuild their lives and prevent suicide, homelessness and broken families.

Rally Point Retreat’s official opening date is June 27, but Bob and Johan have already opened their doors to guests.

Located in their 6,700 sq. ft. home, Rally Point Retreat features a main room, a woodworking shop, a kitchen, a games/meeting room and an entertainment room.

For now, the non-profit Rally Point Retreat is funded mostly through Bob’s pensions. Bob and Johan are working to secure donations – monetary and material, experience and knowledge – to expand what they can offer. They plan to gain charitable status within the year.

Rally Point Retreat doesn’t provide therapy, because current funding doesn’t allow for that. Bob and Johan hope to be able to add therapists to their programming later on.

Thanks to 15 acres out front and a 103-acre backyard, Rally Point Retreat already offers a wide range of outdoor activities, including bird watching, camping, fishing, gardening, hiking, stargazing, swimming and more.

“We want to put a road to the back of the property, and have cabins that families can stay in, and have different organizations like paramedics, 911 operators and the military build cabins,” Johan explains. “(Each organization’s) cabin is where their people can go and regroup with their families, or themselves.”

Indoor activities include art therapy, billiards, board games, cabin designing, darts, Internet, knitting, working out at the in-house mini-gym, movies and TV, music therapy in the Live Cavern Corner, painting, reading, woodworking and writing.

In the woodworking shop, guests can create modern medieval furniture or hand-turn ornate pens. Some of these items will be available at Tides of Time Art Gallery and Gift Shop in Lockeport, some will furnish the cabins, and pens can go home with guests as a memento of their visit.

For more information, visit Rally Point Retreat’s Facebook page at A video is available at

For more information on PTSD, read “Going Crazy in the Green Machine” by John J. Whelan.

The Tema Center Memorial Trust’s “Heroes Are Human” webpage, found at, contains valuable resources, including self-assessment tools.


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Penticton vet campaigning to bring Australian support group on PTSD to Canada

Post by Guest on Thu 12 May 2016, 05:29

PENTICTON — Whenever Ernie Slump hears a fire cracker go off unexpected, he’s taken back to the barracks when he tried to revive a fellow soldier.

“A young Canadian soldier died in my arms because of a gunshot wound from an accident that should have never have happened. It affects me to this day,” said Slump.

The incident Slump was referring to happened nearly five decades ago, during the FLQ Crisis in Quebec. But Slump remembers the incident vividly.

He said this was the result of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

On Wednesday, he wanted to bring the PTSD issue to the forefront while the Invictus Games are happening in Orlando, Florida.

The Games is an international sporting event for wounded, injured and sick Service personnel. Next year, Toronto will be hosting the event.

On the web site it says Canada was chosen to “provide an opportunity to awaken the latent empathy that Canadians feel for its military and transform it by empowering the Canadian public, politicians and corporations to solicit long-term advocacy, donations and support for the country’s service members and military families in need.”

Slump is spearheading a campaign to bring a support group on PTSD from Australia. He said the group has more advanced research and treatment regarding the mental illness.

“The Australians, because they fought in the Vietnam war, and we didn’t, they have a lot more PTSD injured veterans and wounded veterans,” explained Slump.

A member of the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans of Canada supports Slump’s campaign.

“Anything that is in reference and in regards to aiding the veterans, particularly with the PTSD, is of major importance to our association,” said Robert Horkoff.

If the Australian group comes to Canada, Slump said it would be up to the federal government to decide where the experts go and who they’d meet.

In response to Slump’s cause, the federal government said: “Veterans Affairs Canada is always open to discussing Veterans’ issues.”


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Healing Hidden Wounds

Post by Guest on Sat 07 May 2016, 13:37

By Margaret Evans

“It was 2007 when my ex-girlfriend bought home an off-the-track Thoroughbred named Sozo who had gone through several owners and had many issues,” recalls Cpl (ret) Christian McEachern, CD. “We kept him at a friend’s acreage which was along my commuting route to my work in the mountains. At first I only stopped by to check on him and see how he was doing, but that soon changed. After a few months I was learning about horses from my ex and taking more interest in them. It became pretty clear after a while that Sozo had chosen me as his human, and soon I was riding him and regularly enjoying his company. Up to this point I had no experience with horses but I did have years of leadership training and experience, and those traits needed to be a good leader came in handy when working with Sozo. Basically (it was) a veteran race horse with PTSD and a problem with authority meets army veteran with PTSD and a problem with authority. The rest is history.”

The value of horses as therapeutic animals able to connect with veterans suffering the mental injuries of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has made significant traction in recent years.

Diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder and medically released after 14 years of military service, Christian McEachern earned his Bachelor of Applied Ecotourism and Outdoor Leadership degree at Mount Royal University in Calgary. He became a Professional Adventure Guide and a Wilderness and Remote First Aid/Survival instructor. Now a dedicated horseman, Christian is also an Equine First Aid instructor. “I’m not sure where I would have ended up if I hadn’t got into horses,” he says. Photo courtesy of Christian McEachern

In July 2015, the Honourable Erin O’Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs, announced funding for two new research studies on how effective equine therapy is for veterans with mental health conditions. The Canadian Institute of Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR) would receive $250,000 to conduct an Equine Assisted Intervention Study. In addition, Can Praxis would receive $25,000 to continue its equine research. Can Praxis’ new research study will build on its 2013 equine therapy pilot study. Both studies will assist in establishing an evidence base on the use of equine therapy for veterans with mental health conditions.

Can Praxis, located in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, is a not-for-profit organization run by Steve Critchley and Jim Marland. Their programs are also operating at WindReach Farm at Ashburn, Ontario. Critchley is a 28-year veteran with close to two decades of conflict management as a mediator. Marland is a registered psychologist and equine assisted learning facilitator with over two decades of experience working with inmates and those in solitary confinement. Can Praxis represents “can” for can do and “praxis,” which is to take a theory and put it into practice.

Since there is little existing evidence on the effectiveness of animal-assisted interventions for mental health, Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) is investing in the two-year programs which will provide guidance on when it is appropriate to integrate this type of adjunct therapy into a veteran’s mental health treatment plan.

Can Praxis, based in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, received $25,000 in funding from Veterans Affairs Canada to continue its research on the effectiveness of equine therapy for veterans with mental health conditions. Photo courtesy of Can Praxis

Many people don’t realize the extent to which people with PTSD have a major, serious mental injury that can be terminal. Nothing about it can be treated lightly and the many steps toward a level of recovery are deliberate, focused, and precise. In the three-day equine assisted program that Can Praxis offers, Critchley and Marland will see the veteran more than they would be seen by a therapist in a year.

“When PTSD occurs it becomes a daily occurrence of conflict and crisis in that person’s life,” says Critchley. “No ifs, ands, or buts. It’s going to show up and screw them up and make life miserable. What we are hoping people understand is we want to help them have one successful conversation a day with their spouse. If you have one successful one, you can have two. Then you can build on the success. And the definition of a successful conversation is one where they both walk away satisfied at the end. We help them understand what they are bringing to a conversation. We help them bring the conversation down into smaller, simpler, easier to manage chunk-size pieces and focus on what is actually doable and achievable.”

In the program, military terms are used since that is what veterans relate to. For instance, an immediate action drill is the firing of a weapon and its safe handling. What happens determines the secondary action drill.

When a veteran is having a conversation with a spouse and it starts to go sideways the immediate action drill is to use a safe word. It stops the conversation, allowing them to retrace their steps back to safe ground. The secondary action is that, at an appropriate time and in an appropriate manner, they re-enter the conversation to move it forward more successfully.

So where do horses fit into the conversation?

“We have a three-phase program,” says Critchley. “In the first phase it’s all on the ground exercises. Horses are social animals. They need, thrive, crave social interaction. A horse in a field by itself, all day, every day is punishment. Horses truly understand and appreciate social structure. Second, any group of horses will have a built-in chain of command. Guys (and girls) can relate real quick to a chain of command. Again, we use military terms as these guys are vets and we bring these terms into a world they understand. Third, horses evolved as prey animals which makes them hypersensitive. They are able to understand by analyzing the situation around them all the time and they will know immediately if you are an idiot or someone they can push around. Understanding that, the horses become a peer, providing immediate, honest, in-your-face feedback.”

Jason and Courtney Anderson from Ontario have completed the Phase One program at Can Praxis. Photo courtesy of Can Praxis

He says they are helping people get into a place mentally and physically so that the horse can look at them and say you are worth the effort to learn how to trust again. You are worth the effort to learn how to respect again.

“So the horse comes up to the individual and looks at them and touches them. If the horse can do that there is every opportunity that your family can do that.”

A cornerstone of the program is that veterans attend with their spouse, partner, or a family member. This is because they are hurting as much as the veteran. Therefore, they are equals. And the best way to help them is through conversation.

“The reality is every time you are sitting or standing with a horse you are having a conversation,” says Critchley. “Ninety-three percent of a conversation is non-verbal including tones, flections, grunts, groans. Only seven percent of a conversation is made up of words. We will see more words and body language in those three days than a counsellor will see in a year.”

Critchley said that when the human brain is around horses, the brain produces dopamine, the natural “feel good” drug. With PTSD, the more primitive part of the brain gets disconnected from the higher functioning region.

“The dopamine that is produced when people are around horses helps reconnect the primitive part of the brain with the higher functioning part,” he says. “We are using those opportunities where the brain is getting traction to teach people how to have effective communication. Often what we focus on is helping people understand that there is life at the end of the tunnel. As a couple, forget about forcing yourself to come out of that tunnel in one location as it will never happen. Working together as a team you don’t care where you come out as long as you come out of the tunnel into a light where you are both satisfied. And part of getting there is helping individuals understand they are not broken.”

They have had over 120 couples in the program which began in February 2013. They work with eight horses and they consistently change horses around so that their clients deal with different equine personalities.

Each program is divided into three phases of three days each. They have a maximum of six couples. This allows plenty of time to spend with each one. Half the program is theory, understanding communication, and how PTSD affects conflict and crisis. The practical part is communicating with the horses in the arena on the ground. Depending on how each person communicates results in how the horse responds through action and reaction. As horses respond by joining up or following or touching, participants build trust and respect. With that comes self-confidence. By the end of the three days they have worked with horses on ground exercises as a couple.

“One of the exercises we do in a round pen is the join-up exercise,” says Critchley. “They shake a stick and a plastic bag, then drop them and see if the horse comes up to them afterwards. [The analogy is that] spouses realize they are running around carrying a stick. The veterans, when you ask what home life is like, go yea, I’m also running and hiding. It dawns on them that there is more to what they are doing than simply talking.”

In Phase Two, the veterans come back separately, without their spouse or partner. It’s another three-day session in which they learn to care for and ride horses. Through debriefing, they learn that all the things they hold dear are not free, not given. They must work for them. The same goes for recovery. They must work for it.

“So the debrief is focused specifically on what has been working and how they can transfer that to other parts of their life. Through working with the horses, veterans and spouses end up teaching each other. And that’s by design.”

Both Elaine Kearney and Mike Rude from Newfoundland have completed Phase One, and Mike went on to complete Phase Two. Photo courtesy of Can Praxis

In Phase Three, the couples come back together and this time they ride into the mountains for a three-day retreat-style trip with day trips and debriefs around the campfire.

“Once again we’re talking about that dopamine connection. It’s connecting the primitive part of the brain with the higher functioning part. That opens the doorway for us to go in and do some teaching.”

It’s not so much the experience that is the goal. It’s what the veterans and spouses learn from the experience and the takeaway skills usable in day-to-day life. So there are some very specific teaching points that they work towards.

“It’s rather humbling in how well it’s been received by everyone. The success rate has been remarkable. At the beginning of the program at least one person is afraid of horses. By the end we have to physically stop them taking one home.”

An important value of the program is that people working with horses gain self-confidence. That creates self-esteem. Self-esteem produces pride. People with pride don’t kill themselves. This program is about working with an animal that will give instant feedback that can’t be argued with, and the horse gives it from a place of pure honesty.

Horses at Can Praxis waiting for dinner to be served. Photo courtesy of Can Praxis

The challenge of PTSD is that people aren’t aware of the persona they give off. They aren’t always aware of their sense of anxiety or tension or impatience. But the horse picks up on this immediately. People are then able to see what they are bringing to the conversation because the vibes for frustration are constantly there as an undercurrent.

At Hope Reins in Ontario, their War Horse Program focuses on veterans also suffering with PTSD. The program was launched in July 2014 after five years of planning. They have served 56 veterans in the seven intakes they have conducted and when this article was written there were eight veterans in the program.

“For our veterans, progress in the program is a very personal and individual experience,” says Alison Vandergragt, director of the War Horse Program. “This is definitely not a linear process as everyone enters the program at a different stage of the healing process. Participants are fully accepted where they are at by their peers, the facilitating team, and the horses. Some choose to focus on developing everyday coping skills, a ‘toolbox’ so to speak, as they perceive themselves as just trying to survive another day. Others are looking to find meaning in the things they have experienced. Some need a reason to get out of the basement once a week. As they progress through the program, they have the opportunity to introduce the horses to their families if they choose.”

She says that they work with horses and ponies of all breeds and sizes and animals must be at least five years of age. They are selected for their personalities, keeping safety in mind. Some of the horses have been surrendered by their owners because they can no longer take care of them. Most are rideable, as riding is an important component to the program.

For veterans in the War Horse Program at Hope Reins in Ontario, progress is a personal and individual experience, as each participant enters the program at a different stage of the healing process. Since July 2014, the War Horse Program has served 56 veterans and currently there are eight enrolled. Photo : Kathy Thomas/JoshOli Photography

“Each horse has its own special quality by just being itself and who it is because of the things and people and experiences it has encountered in its life. A horse or pony that has experienced neglect or mistreatment by either an adult or child; or a horse that has had a lengthy career in the show world; or a horse that has been raised on a farm in a herd with plenty of love and affection, all bring something very unique to the arena. Just as every client is different, so are the horses we use. The connections that clients make with a horse or pony are strongly tied to the life experiences of both.”

She says that the veterans are feeling more relaxed, less anxious, and sleeping better. Self-confidence and self-worth are restored. They feel they can engage with their families and friends more effectively, and are finding meaningful relationships not just within the group, but outside of the program as well. For those who state they feel numb, often that personal connection with the horses allows them to “feel” again. Participants are also supporting each other both inside the program and out. Something as simple as a few of them meeting for a coffee in between the weekly sessions can break the cycle of isolation.

As successful as many programs are, Critchley cautions against people wanting to get into equine psychotherapy to help veterans with PTSD.

“Good intentions fill body bags,” he says. “What people don’t grasp is that veterans with PTSD have a huge, serious mental injury that in many instances is terminal. So getting in there to do some equine therapy and doing it wrong can create more problems. That’s really scary. For some people with PTSD, if they are not talking they are going to die. Now we are dealing not just with veterans with suicidal feelings but spouses as well. We are very nervous about people jumping into this with good intentions.”

The Can Praxis program is funded by Wounded Warriors Canada, the national funding partner that pays for flights (veterans and spouses from all over the country), hotels, food, and programming costs so that veterans do not pay for the treatment themselves.

For more information on these programs, please visit:


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Local vet crowdfunds support for novel on PTSD

Post by Guest on Sat 30 Apr 2016, 16:16

Kathryn native and Canadian veteran Alastair Luft is using Inkshare to crowdfund his new novel, The Battle Within, about a soldier struggling with the after-effects of combat. The book is loosely based on Luft’s experience after service and those of friends and fellow soldiers who struggled with mental and emotional trauma after their time in the military.
Luft grew up on his parents’ farm in Kathryn. He attended Kathryn School and Beiseker Community School while helping out at the farm and staying involved in school and community sports.
After high school, Luft attended the University of Calgary for a semester where he visited a recruitment centre and became interested in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Luft was interested in the officer training plan, where the military paid for the university education of those recruited before they did their service. It was a combination of the paid education benefits of the plan and the chance to have an exciting military career that led him to sign up for the armed forces.
Shortly after 9/11, Luft started his first tour in Afghanistan. Luft, a young and eager soldier, headed overseas for the first of six tours he would serve in the Middle East.
In 2002, Luft’s platoon was part of an infantry company involved in a nighttime training exercise at a place called Tarnak Farm. As they were shooting weapons on a practice range, a fleet of American planes flew over the infantry. In the darkness, he said, the Americans thought they were seeing flashes of light below from enemy activity and they started dropping bombs. One of the bombs killed three soldiers from Luft’s platoon.
By the end of the friendly-fire incident, there would be four dead and 10 wounded. Luft said the incident was one of the driving forces behind his novel and gave him perspective on what it’s like to be under attack.
“The survivors of the friendly-fire attack had a range of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms that manifested,” he said. “These included normal responses like survivor’s guilt.”
While Luft himself doesn’t suffer from PTSD, he turned to other veterans for insight while writing his novel. The Battle Within is about a fictional character named Hugh Denare, a Canadian soldier who has been fighting for the Armed Forces and has returned home to his friends and family, only to fight the biggest battle of his life with PTSD and the lingering effects from trauma he endured overseas.

Luft said the title of the novel was inspired by the daily struggles of people who live with PTSD.
“It’s this internal struggle to try to be the better person when every fiber of their being is telling them to do something else and react and lash out based off of trying to process all of these adverse stimuli,” he said.
Luft said his novel will help people understand the ongoing struggles of those who serve in the military.
“I’m hoping (readers) will gain some insight into what its like to be a soldier in Canada… so they get an appreciation for some of the situations that soldiers are placed in when they are asked to serve overseas.”
Luft emphasized his novel is not for personal profit but something he wrote to raise money and awareness. He is raising funds for the novel using Inkshare and needs 750 pre-orders before it can be published.
If the goal is reached by the deadline, Luft will donate two dollars from every pre-sale to Soldier On, a Canadian non-profit organization that provides rehabilitation and support for physically and emotionally wounded soldiers and their families.
Luft now lives in Ottawa with his wife and two young daughters. He currently has no scheduled deployments but is still a member of the Canadian military.
Anyone interested in supporting Luft’s novel can go to to pre-order a copy of the book.


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Re: Local man again taking part in Battlefield Bike Run

Post by Guest on Fri 29 Apr 2016, 07:10

yaaa its battle school . dunno what to say there . they torture you its kinda what they do. in so many ways some more imaginative than the rest . yup sleep deprivation is always part of it as is food depravation . at times they make you over eat . if say you get really greasy hay box chicken while on top of a very steep sandy hill in pet . you are made to eat everything out of the hay boxes except the chicken . then when the meal is over you get lined up and made to pull a piece of chicken out of the box with your hands and eat it with your hands at the back of the line until your up again . after 4-5 pieces of chicken and all the hay boxes are empty .....

that's when the gass drill comes ... gas gas gas ....

then its wheel barrow runs up and down the steep sandy hill you going up and down with your arms while your partner holds your legs . then ya switch around . of course you eventually cant see because the chicken grease got all over your eyepieces and eventually the sand as well . this went on for a long time im guessing until the instructors figured that everyone that was going to puke in their gass masked already have .

k time ta clean up boys and back to advance to contact .

ya see we lost a guy that time and I guess that's the point . there has been better and worse but every now and then this would cause us to loose someone .

maybe their is a better way to do this but boys in the end in this particular trade ya just cant take everyone .




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Posted on our MVA's Facebook / I'm mad...this is what the military did to me.

Post by Guest on Fri 29 Apr 2016, 06:10

To: The Department of Veterans Affairs Canada To: Scott Taylor espritdecorps To: Brittany Crupi Intake Officer DND / CF Ombudsman MDN / To: Mr. A. TomPublic Inquiries Desk / Bureau des demandes de renseignements du public ADM(PA) / SMA(AP)   DND / MDN To: MP Bruce Stanton

Reference: Prisoner of War (POW) XXXXXXXXXXXX The course was called Landing in Sicily Platoon (course 8332) 1983-84 see appendix A below for all those involved.  

I was in PPCLI Battle School Unit 0168 Wainwright Alberta from approximately the 14th of October 1983 to 01 March 1984.  During the final week of battle school at the end of February 1984, I was subjected to many days without eating on or before the scheduled escape and evasion. Escape and evasion was well known to all infantry battle schools soldiers as the final exercise before graduation.The escape and evasion changed to a prisoner of war POW scenario called Fatal Blow under the direction of Platoon Commander LT Karbowiak and section NCO. A piece of paper identified to us was the Canadian Charter of Freedom and Rights hat just came out a year before.  The paper was burned in front of us and we were told we have NO RIGHTS.

I remember over hearing the LT Karbowiak indicating to Sgt Parker that this was the first time this type of scenario was ever done as part of the final training week of infantry battle school. The purpose of this exercise was to extract information from PPCLI infantry battle school recruits as part of an attack on the CFB Wainwright AB. Unfortunately I was so tired I didn’t remember the Operation given to us in the O group. This will take a major toll on me later. It was very clear that sleep deprivation, lack of food for days and extreme fatigue had made us extremely weakened physically and mentally. I can only speak on my behalf that I was pushed beyond my individual physical and psychological limits.  I am currently under the supervision of Dr. Sylive Fortin, PH.D. C.Psyh...RegisteredPhycologist. I was medically released from the military in 1997 being diagnosed with Spondylolisthesis resulting in lumbar disc disease and the subsequent complication of pain and nerve damage secondary to a spinal fusion of L4 to S1. I was previously diagnosed by Dr. Fortin with Major depressive disorder (MDD). Most recently Dr. Fortin diagnosed me with Post-traumatic stress disorder due to the events of this POW. Approximately 33 soldiers were involved in the POW scenario. We were forced to strip naked and placed in the base jail cells. Initially we had been separated in 2 cells and clothed at that time. We were forced to remove our clothes and returned back to the cells we came from. The size of the cell was important because we could not move around or even sit.  Over the next 24 to 48 hours we were sprayed down with cold water from a garden hose through the jail door bars. We soon rotated 3 to 4 soldiers at the door in front of the bars to take the pounding of cold water and rotated after each round. This was to prevent all of us being affected by the water.  However it was not perfect and we still had cold water sprayed on us. They also opened the windows in the building to let cold air in from very cold temperature outside.

We had no access to the washroom at this time and we had to urinate on the floor.  Once the NCOs became aware of our strategy to have a few people upfront they removed those like Ed Miller and some other tough men to a separate cell there they underwent the same torture but by themselves.  I had my glasses taken away a few hours later and this created another level of anxiety for me. Now I could only rely on my hearing.  A few people were taken out of the cell before me. We were unsure why. At that time Angelo Balanos was walking back and forth in front of the cells pushing a broom and eating. I’m not sure why and when he was separated from us, likely due to Greek back ground and racism.  It was now my turn to go where those ahead of me went.  It was taken to a washroom with a shower. I had to watch Clayton get tortured in an ice cold shower.  Then it was my turn. Unfortunately I never heard the O group as mentioned earlier. I was tortured for what seem like hours and then threaten to be put out side in the cold if I didn’t talk.  I was then walked outside into the cold. I can only remember a shoveled walk way and the extreme cold.  I was still unable to give them the information and was returned to the cell with the other men. A few men joined Angelo and were provided food and clothing. I was told it was because they broke and told the NCO the operation. The torture continued for hours. I found out the information they wanted and the buildings we were going to attack under the original escape and evasion.  I know they played really loud rock music and I hated that so much same song over and over.  I remember an alarm going off and the cells opening. We ran and fought our way out. I am sure that some were injured during this but I can’t remember who.
Someone gave me my glasses.

No one ever talked about these last few days until now.  

The exercise Fatal Blow as it was named...really took a fatal blow at many areas of my life.  I have started to share the details with my physiologist as I move along in this process I remembering more.  I’m looking for justice in this matter not only for me but all those involved.


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Local man again taking part in Battlefield Bike Run

Post by Guest on Wed 27 Apr 2016, 10:50

In June, a local man will once again be travelling to Europe to take part in a unique event to support veterans coping with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Darrell Ingeveld, 31, is currently raising funds and awareness for Wounded Warriors Canada (WWC), which is a group that works with veterans and their families.
The initiative, dubbed the Battlefield Bike Ride, consists of veterans and their supporters paying tribute to those who have served. Last year’s ride began at the Vimy Memorial in France, and ended 500 kilometres away in Holland, raising more than $500,000 for life-saving programs. This year, the team will cycle the route that Canadians took through Italy in their struggle to help liberate Europe during the Second World War.
Ingeveld is aware of this first-hand as his grandfather was a veteran of the Italian campaign, so he has a heart for veterans who return home and find civilian life a struggle.
One of the programs that WWC supports is Can Praxis. Operating near Rocky Mountain House, this program utilizes horse therapy for couples dealing with PTSD.
“One of the challenges for these men and women is that they have learned to be very emotionally ‘reactive’ and it creates a lot of tension between spouses. Oftentimes they can’t ‘see it’ themselves,” said Ingeveld.
By working with horses and seeing how they react to them by instinct, as well as extensive psychological counselling, they’re able to develop tools to better manage their condition and create better harmony in the home.
Ingeveld is accepting donations to help with the ride at 587-998-7111 or
Visit and for information about the ride as well as other organizations that Wounded Warriors supports.


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Re: Local man again taking part in Battlefield Bike Run

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