A team of veterans, military members and first responders will begin the 600 km trek down the length of Vancouver Island Monday morning.
In an effort to raise awareness and funds for mental health programs and initiatives, the Wounded Warrior Run kicks off Monday in Port Hardy. The relay run will last a week, with the finish line in front of the legislature in Victoria on March 3.
For Jackie Cummings, assistant run director and recovery vehicle driver, this is a cause that hits close to home. Cummings is a veteran, previously stationed at 19 Wing Comox, and has also worked as a paramedic for the past three years. She was diagnosed with PTSD in September 2018, something that is not uncommon in her field.
“Each day is different and it’s a humbling experience,” she said. “You can start your day off on the right foot and something as silly as a song on the radio can derail you completely.”
Through the Wounded Warriors, Cummings recently completed Trauma Resiliency Program Phase 1 and 2, where she was given information about PTSD, ways to cope and shown how to process the trauma she has experienced.
While she has taken steps to cope with the disorder, she says not everyone acknowledges they need help as a culture of stoicism is still very prominent in these fields.
“There’s still very much a ‘suck it up’ attitude. Like this is what the job is, brush it off and take the next call,” she said. “It’s not always just one thing [that causes PTSD]. It’s often referred to as the straw that breaks the camel’s back. It’s not a matter of if, but when, because we are exposed to trauma every day and many times throughout the day.”
Wounded Warrior is one of multiple organizations that work to help those suffering from operational stress injuries, and Cummings says it is important to get the information out there to make it easy to get help for those who need it.
“Change has to start somewhere and if it takes one person to share what is out there, share their experience, for me, it’s the hope that others will then have the courage to come forward and ask for the help that they need,” she said.
The 2019 Wounded Warrior Run will arrive in Comox on Thursday (Feb. 28) afternoon, and depart for Port Alberni Friday (March 1) morning.
For more information and to donate to Wounded Warriors, visit https://woundedwarriors.ca/