Post Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI)

An Opening Appears

Dear Members of the Association,

News of rising rates of suicides amongst first-responders is troubling in the extreme. The often-asked question is what could have prompted this. And, when no questions are asked and the event is put away for another day, it is forgotten. An inconvenient truth has been avoided.

But sometimes light is shone on the inconvenient truth. It takes courage and a desire to help others to speak of that truth.

In the short narrative that follows you will see that truth and how the space in the wall of despair frequently has a opening of hope.

James Forrest
Director of Communications
RCMP Veterans’ Association

Graham Muir – Past President, Ottawa Division

I am a Veteran, having served 5 years in the Canadian Armed Forces Reserves and 36 years with the RCMP.

I retired almost ten years ago. I have been diagnosed with an Operational Stress Injury (OSI) that is directly attributable to three overseas tours on UN and NATO deployment.

I am currently in the capable hands of one of several (VAC sponsored) OSI Clinics and making good progress.

My reason for sharing this message is born of my concern that too few of us – serving and retired alike – are taking that all-important first step in seeking help.

I did not see it coming. I was one of the many tens of thousands of first responders who naively thought themselves impervious to lasting damage. And in spite of begrudging self-awareness, I procrastinated in coming to grips with my injury.

So, I now find myself scrabbling for a foothold and the prospects of better days ahead.

I need that badly: not only for myself, but for those near and dear to me who count on me to be at my best – and not some hollowed out shell of the man that went before.

The path forward for me began with the stark realization that I could not and would not mend on my own. God knows I tried. But I found the resolve and mustered the courage to reach out, to ask for help.

Every step of the way since that moment in time has been easier for the simple reason that other steady souls willingly and wisely give of themselves to share the burden of my recovery.

I confess, too, that I was guilty of willful blindness. I knew better. I ought to have seen my own struggle in the recurring news of colleagues found wrestling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and related mental health injuries. A very close personal friend, a former member and accomplished soldier, just lost his life to such injury compounded by alcohol addiction.

The stakes are so high.

There is hope in help through the pursuit of knowledge and practical insight that offers the real potential for us to thrive, and not just survive, as a consequence of our injury. If you see yourself in this message, please reach out. Take the first step.

R. Graham Muir
Assistant Commissioner retired

 


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