Sit Rep – CVA Christmas message – Ice Storm consequences
ICE STORM. I know of several veterans in Toronto and along the north shore of Lake Ontario who are still bereft of electricity and probably will be until after Christmas. Most, I hope, have sought shelter with family, friends or a motel but some have chosen to weather the storm at home.
BE CAREFUL and mindful of the threat of CARBON MONOXIDE poisoning if you are using BBQ or generators inside the garage and the threat of FIRE if candles are your primary light /heat source. Make sure you place candles in a position wherein, should it fall over, results in a fire that consumes your house!!!!! Seriously. Be vigilant, this is happening to others as we speak, the threat is real, it could be fatal to you and your loved ones.
Christmas Message. The holiday period/ Christmas is invariably a very busy time as we become immersed with in the love of our families and the spirit in which the season brings to a vast majority of us. I have been blessed, married now for over thirty years, two children that continue to amaze me as they have lived with the restrictions of my disability for a couple of decades now. As a family unit, the bonds are strong and we are growing, most recently welcoming our first grand daughter, Isla Mary McPherson to the clan.
Such is not, regrettably, the case of many who borne the physical and mental consequences of service, war and peace and at this special time of year, it is to you that I am reaching out to today. I speak from the heart, my words are guided by the conversations with many, to many, mothers, fathers, serving members and veterans who’s family unit has been profoundly impacted by great sacrifice during the Afghanistan War, former Yugoslavia, Rwnnda, Somalia… the list is long, not limited to deployments and you know who you are.
The time to fight has come! And yes, like any fight, you will be called upon to demonstrate courage, a willingness to embrace the love of family, the recognition that you are wounded, not weak and that like all wounds, medical care is required.
There is no need for you to be… alone.
There is no need to deal with the mental wound you have sustained… alone.
There is a rising level of understanding, compassion, that exists on so many levels… all you have to do is REACH OUT!!!!!!!!
Please, so many have purposefully estranged themselves from their families, so many have borne the incredible burden of their mental wounds in silence or have bunkered in, becoming hermits through isolation. So many loved ones, unsure of what to do, are desperately waiting for you to reach out, to speak of your pain, to work WITH YOU to stop the agony, to heal, to be the family member they were before you were deployed to hell.
All you have to do, my brother ands sister, is pick up the phone, dial the number and say Merry Christmas. Or Dad/Mom, I love you. Be brave, there is help, the road may be difficult, but you are a warrior, you have sustained a wound and like any wound, physical or mental, it will fester, it will consume your life, My God, it may very well end your life after the cycle of despair destroys everything your are and stood for.
There is another option for those who have no family, or are not willing to engage at the level but realize they need some help, they need to talk over a few issues with the brothers and sisters who were there, that without resolution the quality of your lives will be adversely affected.
I would draw your attention to the Send Up the Count initiative, which has been endorsed by General Hillier amongst others. Brian and his team have done a magnificent job and you can get further information here.
Send Up The Count. I would encourage you to embrace this initiative and establish contact with those you have served with, wish them a Merry Christmas, see if they are okay and have a chat. Google their names and phone numbers, check them out on Facebook or Twitter, it is Christmas, they may be feeling lonely or the same way as do you, regardless, and the conversation will leave you both feeling much, much better and reaffirm the bond we all share. That is how the Buddy System works, yes? And the buddy system works best when you keep in contact with those that served with you and experienced the same stress.
To assist you should someone reach out for help or you have concerns about a brother, sister or loved one and wish to reach out to them over the holiday season, I have included a submission by Doctor Jane Storrie, president Elect of the Ontario Psychological Association, and Doctor Dee Rajska, Clinical Psychologist, that I requested in order to provide some tangible CVA Buddy System guidelines both for thi9s project and in general. Mothers, fathers, wives and concerned older children might benefit from reading them
We understand that you may be unsure as to how to respond. This is NATURAL, do not feel guilty or afraid, it is okay and it will pass quickly if you take the time to read the attached submission. This will encourage you to assist, to ask the right questions and to facilitate the process that is so necessary if we are to restore the family, brother-sisterhood relationships that have also become casualties of war and create the compassionate support element required for healing.
CVA Buddy System guidelines – Suicide prevention information provided by Dr Jane Storrie and Dr Dee Rajska.
Service members and veterans who have experienced traumatic events may have feelings of anxiety, anger, guilt, sadness or isolation. These emotions are common and considered normal and expected responses to extraordinary situations. Some people go on to suffer from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, if they don’t get the support they need, may become suicidal as they feel there is no escape or help for their symptoms.
Even if you are coping relatively well, you may know someone who isn’t doing so good. Here is a list of things that should concern you:
Dramatic changes in mood
Thoughts about hurting or killing him or herself
Withdrawing from family and friends
Talking or writing about death or suicide
Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
Flashbacks or nightmares
Increased alcohol or drug use
Reckless or risky behavior
Poor anger control
Feeling anxious or hopeless.
It isn’t easy to talk to someone about their suicidal thoughts and feelings, and some people are afraid that talking about it might push them to do it. Studies have shown, though, that this isn’t the case and that talking openly and honestly about suicide has actually led people to reach out for help. Here are some things to remember:
Be yourself. Don’t worry about having the right words. If you’re concerned, your voice and manner will show it. And that’s okay- it’s lets the person know you care.
Listen. Be compassionate and non-judgemental. Let the suicidal person unload, vent or rage. Don’t worry about how negative the conversation is- that they’re talking at all is a positive thing.
Offer hope and reassurance. Help is available. There are people out there who are trained to deal with this- and people do get better.
Avoid arguing, or lecturing, or preaching, or minimizing their suffering.
Refuse to be sworn to secrecy. When a life is at stake, you may need to get help to keep someone safe.
Here are some ways to start a conversation about suicide:
I’ve been concerned about you lately.
I’ve noticed some changes in you and wonder how you’re doing.
I wanted to check in with you because you haven’t seemed yourself lately.
Here are some questions you can ask:
When did you start to feel like this?
Did something happen that made you start feeling this way?
How can I best support you right now?
Have you thought about getting help?
Here is some encouragement you can give:
You are not alone in this. I’m here for you.
I know it’s hard to believe right now, but the way you’re feeling will change.
I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help.
Here are some things that won’t help:
“Suicide is wrong”
“Suicide is selfish”
“You have so much to live for”
“You don’t want to hurt your family”
Help the suicidal person to get professional help. Encourage the person to see a mental health professional, help to locate a treatment facility, or take them to a doctor’s appointment.
Follow-up. Make sure they’re attending treatment sessions and doctor’s appointments. If medication has been prescribed, make sure they’re taking it as directed.
Be proactive. Don’t wait for them to call you- call them, text, drop by.
Encourage positive lifestyle changes: eating well, getting enough sleep, exercise.
Make a safety plan- work with them to come up with a series of steps to follow in the event of a suicidal crisis (what to do, who to call).
If you promise to be there, then be there. Even after the person starts to feel better, stay in touch. Ongoing support is important.
Dr. Jane Storrie, President-Elect, Ontario Psychological Association
Dr. Dee Rajska, C. Psych, Clinical Psychologist; Blogger, canadianveteransadvocacy.com/comingbackhome/
On closing, I would thank each and every one of you have graced my life since the Canadian Veterans Advocacy was founded three years ago in the aftermath of the 1st CVNDOP. The mission we have embraced will not be accomplished without sacrifice yet our objective, One Veteran, One Standard, for Canada’s most seriously wounded, Memorial Cross widows, mothers/fathers and all who serve or have served and offered great physical and mental sacrifice On Guard for Canada, will guide us to victory.
Stand strong, stand proud.
Pro Patria Semper Fidelis.
Michael L Blais CD
President – Founder Canadian Veterans Advocacy
6618 Harper Drive, Niagara Falls, Ontario
905-359-9247 /// hm 905-357-3306