A Regina chapter of the Veterans Helping Veterans does just that. A group of nearly 20 veterans in Regina gathers occasionally to offer support with various activities to promote healing.
“We have numerous retired members that are RCMP, military and we just seem to all click… Regardless of the service, we are all veterans, and we all have similar experiences,” said Jon Graves, a military veteran.
Steve Gloade, who is an RCMP veteran, said he and the other members find Veterans Helping Veterans therapeutic.
“We were looking for a place to come together as a safe place with no judgment, no criticism. Everybody here has battled some sort of injury, whether it’s physical, emotional or whether it’s both,” Gloade said. “We talk about if you need help and you want to discuss it, (or) you’re looking for tips or tricks to try to deal with something.”
The Veterans Helping Veterans group gathers at least once or twice a week in various places throughout the city. In recent weeks, the group has held free guitar lessons and equine therapy sessions in Lumsden, Sask.
“I got in touch with Guitars for Vets, and we got a bunch of people that received their free guitars through that group,” Graves said. “It just gives us just one more thing to get veterans out and do things in the community.”
Sean Chiddenton, who spent over 25 years in the RCMP, arranged for the Veterans Helping Veterans group to attend equine therapy sessions, which they all found therapeutic.
“We started last weekend and a lot of the people that came had a fantastic experience,” Chiddenton said. “You’re just kind of in the moment and it helps just clear your head and help calm you down and relax. It’s a win-win. The horses love the attention, and I could see from the people that came out just how quickly they just relaxed and let things go. That was a huge benefit and (I’m) really grateful we have that opportunity.”
Gloade spent 27 years in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and retired in 2019. In 2015, he reached his breaking point and was unable to handle the challenges as he dealt with issues such as PTSD, anxiety and depression.
“In our generation, it was not an open thing to speak about,” he said. “Then it just got (to be) too much, and it came down to a life-or-death moment. And I’m glad to say I chose life. If I didn’t, I would (not have) met (Graves) or any of these people.”
Graves retired in 1999 from the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. When Graves got out, he said he had “hate on” for the military because he could not understand the emotions he was feeling.
“I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I was always angry (but) it took me finding the right person that is supportive,” he said. “This group gives me (and) us all a purpose… You tend to take down your guard. Nobody judges anybody. If we’re having a bad day, there’s always somebody there to talk us back into a good place and support us.”
The Veterans Helping Veterans group in Regina will continue to meet regularly and hopes to grow the group with other local veterans.
“Our group is not limited to just us. We’re always putting it out there on social media,” Gloade said. “So, if there’s another veteran sitting at home… in the Regina area. Come on down. It doesn’t cost you anything, just your time being together. Individually, we’re all scrambling to survive, but together, we’re strong.”
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