A retired member of the Canadian Armed Forces has constructed a special conference-sized table containing a design that captures the uniqueness of Vancouver Island Compassion Dogs (VICD).
Comox Valley resident Dale Robillard spent about a year-and-a-half constructing the multi-use ‘honour table.’ He hopes it will serve as a tribute to those involved with the Qualicum-based non-profit that matches rescue dogs with military veterans and others who struggle with ‘invisible injuries’ such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or Post Traumatic Stress Injury.
“It’s an incredible work of art,” VICD’s Barb Ashmead said Monday at a dedication ceremony at Driftwood Mall.
“I wanted the gift to come from the Comox Valley because I wanted the Comox Valley to realize that they have a lot of injured vets here,” said Robillard, a retired master warrant officer with the CAF Search and Rescue team. He and Ashmead held a second ceremony in Qualicum, where the table is being housed.
Along with friend Errol Armella, Robillard designed and constructed the table using wood, rock and steel. Its shape was designed to mimic that of Vancouver Island. It will be used for VICD meetings and activities.
The table’s main beam represents veterans in their prime. The legs and understructure represent the military ethos and teamwork necessary to accomplish challenging missions. A centrepiece made of quartz serves as a reminder that although things may seem strong at first glance, the stone — like our veterans — can break without care and attention.
The centrepiece is adorned with paw prints from Angel, a labrador who belonged to the late Luc Levesque. Together, Luc and Angel helped launch VICD when they became the first of many teams in the last four years to graduate from its program.
“It’s (honour table) all about meaning and heart,” Robillard said. “I put two little time capsules in the ends of the beams. One side holds the tools I collected from different generations of veterans. The other side has a log book with the moral compass theme on it.”
Robillard encourages military veterans to help themselves.
“That’s kind of my motto,” he said. “I’ve been through lots of group therapies. It’s hard to deal with veterans…We keep our stories to ourselves, and then we expect everybody to understand us. I’m saying that’s not the right way. The right way is to open up a little bit. Be as pleasant and as approachable as humanly possible, and tell a bit about your story. Not unlike someone telling the story about their journey through cancer. It’s not boasting, it’s just explaining and informing people…Let’s stop being victims and maybe look at this from a slightly different angle.”