A peer support program that brings together Veterans in their community is taking hold across the country. Buddy Check Coffee is a Veteran-run program developed through the Legion’s OSI Special Section. Coordinated by Legion members who are CAF or RCMP Veterans and trained in mental health first aid for Veterans, the program provides a safe space and relaxed environment for Veterans and their families to network and share experiences and stories over a “cup of joe”.
Derrick McClinchey, Buddy Check Coffee coordinator for the Legion Victory Branch 317 in London Ontario recently shared, with permission, a write up from fellow Veteran, Reverend Troy Dingwell, a participant at their event. With great thanks to Troy for letting us share his experience of how this program is making a difference.
Rev. Troy Dingwell (left) with Buddy Check Coffee coordinator Derrick McClinchey
"I attended our latest get-together with fellow veterans at Victory Branch 317 and experienced something that hadn’t happened to me for a long time. I found myself being engulfed with a comradery that totally enlightened my soul. I sat at a table of probably 8 vets who were sharing memories from past and present. This was happening at the other tables also. These memories were capsulated by laughter... but it wasn’t just a little laugh, it was a laughter that came from the inner stomach and up through the mouth canal and did it ever sound good. There’s not a whole lot to laugh about in this world we live in today, but I can assure you that when we fellowship for our coffee and donuts time it is special.
Patch Adams, in the movie Patch Adams, understood that laughter was important not only in healing, but also for filling the souls of those who care for patients. Each of us has a well within us, full of compassion, caring, and healing. Yet we daily face fear, pain, frustration, exhaustion, grief, and loss. All of these can deplete us while our friends and companions are expecting more. There is perhaps no quicker way to replenish our wells than by the simple act of laughing.
It's easy to think that the only things that can help your health are things that others do for you or to you—the medicines you take, the doctors you visit, the surgeries or operations you have. And these are all important. But laughter is effective treatment you can do for yourself. And you don't need a medical licence to do it.
If you are reading this and you are a veteran who may be going through a rough time, I encourage you to come out, sit with some vets, maybe you haven’t seen some of these in years and just fellowship with us. I guarantee you will laugh."
If you are a Veteran, or family of a Veteran interested in Buddy Check Coffee, reach out to your local Legion Branch
to see if they have a program in place. Or connect with Buddy Check Coffee on Facebook