This Sunday, October 6th, I will be starting the hike! I will be doing the hike on the Okanagan Rail Trail between Vernon and Lake Country and am very excited to get it going. I appreciate everyone who has contributed and supported the dual purposes of raising awareness of PTSD and funds for a service dog. Unfortunately in the last week we in the police community have lost two more members to suicide. I had the privilege to have worked with one of them for several years and his loss, like so many others, has hurt a great number of people.
I will be attempting to hike 239 Km non-stop on the Rail trail from Vernon, around Wood Lake and back four times with the dual goals of raising 20 thousand dollars, the cost of training one OSI service dog, as well as raising awareness of OSI's and PTSD within the policing community. The number of members who have succumbed to OSI injuries is not known exactly, although it is known to be a significant number. A number that is well known however, is that there are 239 names on the RCMP honour roll representing the 239 members who have died in the line of duty since the inception of the Force. These members have given their lives in the service of Canadians.
More and more research is showing that the number of police officers with PTSD or related Occupational Stress Injuries is well over double that of the general public. According to a Carlton University Study completed in 2016 and 2017 PTSD is higher among members of the RCMP than municipal police officers. Sadly this often leads to a significant decrease in the quality of life of both the member and their families and all too often contributes to them taking their own life. Police officers commit suicide at a rate of more than double that of the general public. On the surface this would seem to be counterintuitive. There is psychological testing done before we join and we want to and do contribute to society in meaningful ways throughout our careers. Perhaps it is the need to help others stoically and deal with the worst that humanity has to offer that leads to a feeling of mental invincibility...until all too often it doesn’t. These are the cases we hear about. The cases where the member felt that there were no other options and heart-breakingly take their own life.
The good news is that PTSD is, while not always curable; almost always able to be dealt with in such a way that a positive and meaningful life is able to be achieved. The first step is reaching out for help. There are resources available to help including psychologists, OSI clinics and more recently PTSD/OSI service dogs which have proven to be extremely helpful to some members with OSI's.
Courageous Companions is an excellent charity organization which trains and teams OSI dogs with military and first responders in Canada.Two of the biggest hurdles we have organizationally are awareness of resources and the stigma that remains attached to Occupational Stress Injuries.
Please help us raise the $20,000.00 needed to help train and team a PTSD dog with a member in need and help to raise awareness with the aim of getting to the point where we do not lose any further members to Occupational Stress Injuries. All funds raised will be given directly to a representative of Courageous Companions on the day of the hike. For clarity purposes and as per go fund me policy the funds will be deposited to my account and a cheque will be given to Courageous Companions the same day for every cent raised.
For more information on Courageous Companions you can visit www.courageouscompanions.ca