Walk for Veterans held across Canada
The first Canadian Walk for Veterans was held Sunday in seven cities across Canada. It's an event that brought veterans together, from the military to the RCMP.
"Let's not forget the rest of the first responders who don't fall under veterans affairs. The municipal, provincial police force, paramedics, or firefighters, or prison guards, all those people who put on a uniform every day and are veterans, although they don't fall under veterans affairs, but deserve to get the help they need, the resources and equipment they need to do their jobs," says L.P. Theriault, of the Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada.
In Fredericton the gathering gave veterans from a variety of public service fields the opportunity to join together in raising awareness about the challenges they face, and the support they need.
"The main message today is one veteran, one case. That every veteran should be treated equally, but should be treated as individual cases when assessed by veteran's affairs," says Theriault.
One priority is to bring attention to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
"The government is announcing more and more research on the subject, but right now what we need isn't more research, we need more treatment. There are veterans right now waiting 2, 6, 9 months before they can get treated for PTSD," explains Theriault.
Veterans like Rick Degruil, a former military police officer who developed PTSD while on the job.
"I started looking for a service dog because I heard they could help, and the wait lists are two to three years once you get on one for a service dog that is trained," says Degruil.
He eventually bought his service dog 'Sarge' on his own.
"If it wasn't for Sarge, like he picks up when I'm having flashbacks or thinking stupid things. If it wasn't for him, chances are I wouldn't be here right now," says Degruil.
The event connected veterans with one another.
"It used to be that veterans would suffer in silence and not bond with each other and try to help each out out," says Degruil. "But now we're starting to figure out that governments not going to help us a whole lot, we gotta stick together ourselves."
All while bringing a better understanding to the broader community.
"I don't think the general public really clues in to what people go through who've put their lives on the line," says Degruil.
"If you don't have a veteran in your family, if you don't have a first responder in your family, it's hard to fathom and imagine exactly what they're going through," adds Theriault.
Sunday's walk aims to try and bridge that gap, one step at a time.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Nick Moore.