N.S. veteran takes on symbolic weight in march for Wounded Warriors
YARMOUTH, N.S. -- A Maritime veteran is walking for Canada’s Wounded Warriors, while carrying a heavy load that represents the emotional weight of post-traumatic stress disorder.
In the shadow of Yarmouth’s cenotaph, Canadian Forces veteran Jason Kitchen marches in memory of his fallen comrades.
Former soldier Jason Kitchen straps a 22-pound rucksack to his back, and treks 10 kilometres a day for other Canadian veterans who are struggling with PTSD.
He will be doing his daily 10 km march for 22 days, a number he holds close his heart.
“On average, about 22 service members a day were taking their own lives because of operational illness and mental health problems. That is 22 too many,” says Kitchen.
Kitchen served in the Canadian Forces from 1997-2007, deploying overseas to Bosnia and assisting in the Swissair Flight 111 recovery effort in 1998.
On Saturday, Kitchen will join other veterans and civilians for Yarmouth’s ‘Rucksack March for Remembrance’, a fundraiser for Wounder Warriors Canada, a charity that supports military members and first responders living with PTSD.
He says the 22 pound load represents the fact that too many veterans and military members carry an emotional weight with them everywhere they go.
“If I can raise money, and maybe help some other soldier out there, or first responder that’s dealing with mental health injuries, to step up and ask for help, and avoid ruining their life, then I couldn’t ask for anything else,” says Kitchen.
“The money raised from this event in Yarmouth, which is the only event being held in Atlantic Canada, is going to go to the first responders and their families who responded to the shooting incident that happened here in Nova Scotia in April,” adds Andre Boudreau, a veteran and co-organizer of the Yarmouth Rucksack March for Remembrance.
Kitchen urges all military members, first responders and their families to seek help if they need it, and keep the conversation going.
“We need to remember the ones who gave the ultimate sacrifice and died for our freedom,” says Kitchen. “But at the same time, we can’t forge the wounded that still have to go on and live each and every day with the memories.”
The Rucksack march is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 7 beginning at the Yarmouth Legion. To donate or find out more information visit the online auction page.