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Moncton veteran opens hobby shop to help cope with post-military life

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Serge Hébert started a new business as a way for hobbyists in the Greater Moncton area to connect in person and have a place to meet.

He also did it to help himself.

The Board Miniatures owner opened his doors in downtown Moncton about a month ago.

It’s a hobby shop that sells unique miniature figurines, paints and brushes and board and card games.

“We’re trying to create that environment that is welcoming for the community and a space to hang out,” said Hébert. “We miss out on that socialization piece. We connect online, but not so much in person.”

Serge Hébert, his wife Melanie and employee Andrew Carvalho-Lefrancois inside Board Miniatures. (Derek Haggett/ CTV Atlantic)

The 35-year-old is also trying to transition to civilian life, but it hasn’t been easy.

After a 16 year career in the military, Hébert left last year to find a new challenge and he decided starting a small business was what was best for him.

He quickly discovered that painting miniatures was very therapeutic and a good way for him to cope with his post-military life.

After years of a strict daily regimen, the painting allows him to concentrate on something, a distraction for his mind.

“You do it for so long it becomes part of your life for sure and then as you transition you face new challenges. You don’t have the same structure and a lot of people find themselves getting lost. They lose purpose,” said Hébert.

Hébert joined the reserves when he was just 17-years-old.

He was a member of the military police when he was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010.

Hébert joined the reserves when he was just 17-years-old and was a member of the military police when he was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010. (Courtesy: Serge Hébert)

The culture shock he experienced is difficult to explain.

“It was very eye-opening to see a part of the world that I think a lot of people don’t get and will never get the opportunity to see or be privy to,” said Hébert.

While he hasn’t been medically diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the tour of Afghanistan and 16 years of service has clearly had an impact.

“I was fortunate enough to come back, come back home compared to some of our brave heroes that didn’t get a chance to come back,” said an emotional Hébert.

After serving years as a member of the military police, Hébert became a medic.

He finished his career in Moncton and retired as a master corporal.

Hébert joined the reserves when he was just 17-years-old and was a member of the military police when he was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010. (Courtesy: Serge Hébert)

Now, his focus is on his family and his new business.

He’s placed a donation bin for veterans by the cash.

“That’s there to help,” he said.

It’s a business for profit, but it’s much more than that.

It’s a space for all ages, even if they don’t paint miniatures.

Hébert wants to start card and crib leagues and says the rooms are available for seniors and retirees to come and socialize.

He’s only been open since January, but customer David Hoar loves popping in a few times a week.

“It’s really the sense of community I see that he’s fostering. The effect has been almost immediate. Every time I come in here I see there’s a group of people going. It’s social. It’s just what I’ve been looking for in the community,” said Hoar.

He’s providing a service, but Hébert is also creating a way for him to re-integrate.

“I guess it’s a continuation of service just in a different way,” said Hébert. “It’s a way for me re-integrate and connect with my community that I’ve been away from for so long,”

A few veterans have come into the shop to congratulate him.

Hébert said it’s nice to reconnect with his fellow soldiers, people he’ll always have a connection with.

Board Miniatures is located at 525 Main Street.

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