The Many Faces of Bravery

by Sean Bruyea in partnership with Veterans Affairs Canada

Living with post-traumatic stress disorder or any psychological injury related to military service is difficult at the best of times. For the person who suffers from an operational stress injury (OSI), performing basic daily functions can be overwhelming. Often times, families and friends also bear the burden of care and confusion when they try to help their loved ones cope.

Those shared challenges were the focal point of the 2nd National Symposium on OSIs. Ste. Anne’s Hospital hosted the international conference in Montréal in May. More than 400 experts gathered to discuss their experiences, treatments, and ideas about psychological injuries. Great progress is being made in researching and recognizing these traumas. In fact, eight brave people courageously spoke first-hand about their personal battles with OSIs. Veterans Michel Dejardin, Tom Martineau, Christian MacEachern, and Sean Bruyea, sat on a discussion panel and talked about how OSIs have changed their lives. On another panel, family members of Veterans, Anne Préfontaine, Paule Laroche, Elizabeth Aitkins and Chantal Ménard, shared their difficulties and pressures of trying to help their loved ones get through the day. Their testimonials were poignant, eye-opening—and even tragically funny—but they were always very personal and very human.

The panel discussions complemented the clinical presentations and allowed the people who suffer from OSIs to talk directly to the people who help or treat them. This unique exchange and valuable experience will help us provide better care, services, and programs to our clients.

With the help of people who bravely speak out about OSIs and other psychological injuries, Ste. Anne’s Hospital National Centre for Operational Stress Injuries and Veterans Affairs Canada will continue to promote better understanding, care and treatment in these areas.

The editorial staff salutes Sean Bruyea, Captain (retired), who helped prepare this article.