This mental health month, The Royal Canadian Legion wants Canada’s Veterans and their families to know that they are not alone.
Adjusting to civilian life, in any circumstance, can be challenging for many military members.
Throw in a pandemic and the situation can become dire.
The Royal Canadian Legion’s Service Officer Network was developed to help our Veterans and their families navigate these challenges. No one was meant to do this alone.
Though we do not provide mental health care directly, the compassionate Service Officers can assist in finding the help Veterans and their families need and deserve.
Retired soldier Paul Valiquette received help from the Legion in his recovery from an Operational Stress Injury he suffered while serving in Afghanistan. Valiquette now helps others by teaching mental health first aid to veterans.
He has a message for Veterans who are struggling with their mental health.
“I tell people you can still be part of society. You don’t have to confine yourself to your house for the rest of your life. People are more understanding about it now,” he said, although he acknowledges the stigma about mental health that persists in the military.
“In the military, it’s ‘Suck it up buttercup. Put your boots on and go out,’” said Valiquette. “That’s changing, which is great, but it’s still there and it still has to be worked on. It’s going to take time, but people are coming out and are more open to get help. They know now that it’s not a death sentence to have an OSI. You can still function, like myself.”
“When you leave the military you lose that camaraderie,” said Valiquette. “In the Legion, they might not know where you went or what you experienced, but they have the same background as military or RCMP. It’s a place where you can develop more friendships, but it’s also a place to grow by helping others in the community.”
Reaching out to a Service Officer, as Paul Valiquette did, can be your first step in your recovery.
Find out more about how we support Veterans with their mental health here: https://legion.ca/support-for-veterans/mental-health-ptsd