A Prince George man continues his walk to Victoria to bring awareness and raise funds for veterans and first responders with PTSD.
A Canadian military veteran and now a corrections officer, Robert Gagnon began his walk on June 28 from the cenotaph at Prince George City Hall and stopped in Williams Lake Tuesday, July 4 at the Royal Canadian Legion.
He says that when he was walking down the hill coming by the airport, a young police officer who drives back and forth from Delta to visit his girlfriend who just transferred to the detachment stopped and talked with him.
“I said man this girl’s got to be pretty special and he goes oh yeah I’d do anything for her…I said congratulations and he was telling me about his struggles with PTSD and how he’s been on the force for 10 years and the stuff he has to go through. That’s the story that gets me driving and my legs moving even faster.”
Gagnon adds just before that a 911 dispatcher in Prince George who suffers from PTSD from the calls she’s taken over the years had also talked and walked with him.
He says the provincial government can do a lot more and that the first thing they need to do is recognize the problem being a bigger thing than what it really is.
“Police and paramedics, I respect everything that they do and that’s part of the reason why I’m walking for them too but there’s also the sheriffs and correctional officers. Those people see a lot a stuff that the general public will never see or hear about…I think back to when I first started there was a lady and it was probably one of the most horrific things I’ve ever seen in my career to this day and that the first couple of months on the job; I didn’t see the assault but an inmate got assaulted. It was so bad that there’s blood up the walls and on the floor, you were slipping on it when you came in…The lady who was working, she was just a little ahead of me in her time in and that’s the person I think about because I’ve never heard her talk about it. I just see her carry on her duties every single day; she comes to work and she never says a word, she says hello and goodbyes and all that.”
“I just think yeah back in here,” Gagon said pointing to his head, “there’s got be something. For me, I think that’s where the government could do more, provide more services…like an honor house in Prince George or an honor ranch, something they could set up where people could go to and get help. Intensive therapy is what they need. ”
Zone Commander and Service Officer for the Legion, Bonnie O’Neill Zone says that PTSD needs to recognized and not frowned upon.