Saluting a forgotten soldier

Opinion by Cindy Chant, editor

Recently I had the honour and privilege to interview one of the most courageous and caring men I had ever met. One who decided it was time to come out from underneath the blanket, which ironically was one of his safety nets when severe, nightmares started many years ago, and tell the world about what he has been living with for over a decade.  

Military life has many unwritten rules and expectations its members follow without fail. The thought of being weak or susceptible to breakdown forces soldiers to cover up true emotions and issues which in turn affects their daily life. 

Making the decision to tell the world about how his life would never be the same after being diagnosed with depression, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and symptoms from multiple concussions did not come lightly as several loved ones had no idea what the last few years entailed. 

Some may argue Canadian troops volunteer to serve as a career in the military and should be able to take the lumps as they are doled out. Nobody forced their decisions to join and feel little pity for ones who are returning as damaged goods. But do volunteer firemen sign up expecting to be burned while fighting a blaze or do police officers sign up supposing they will be shot? Nobody signs up expecting to be seriously injured.

Worse still, nobody is prepared to deal with injuries not visible to the untrained eye – like head injuries or psychological illness which carry a social taboo in or out of the military.

It was very apparent in the interview his sense of duty to his career in the military helped him cope and strive forward, but not as much as his will to be there for his wife and two children.

As fate would have it his love for hockey gave him a new direction in life when doctors deemed him broken and unfit for duty. 

Hats off to you Shane Oliver, who through time, perseverance, and strong dedication is now a little less “broken” and fit for life again. The military would salute you and most importantly your kids can have their dad back, smile and all.

Anonymous on Thu, 08/09/2012 - 23:11

A very sincere thank you to Shane for his service to Canada.
The Canadian government must do more to prepare the men and women who sign up to serve the country in our military. While we all recognize that these folks are doing dangerous work, the situations they are put into carry great psychological risk in addition. We owe the soldiers support before, during, and after they are put in harm's way but instead, we seem to set them up to fight or peace-keep without the mental preparation they need and we don't know how to help them recover afterward and so we dismiss them or provide minimal re-training and education. They need to be physically and mentally returned to health before they are released from service - would the government let employers to mess their employees up and then pay minimal severance and show them the door. It is unconscionable that we let our government do this and we must elect better people to make better decisions. If we are going to continue to help out in wars and peace-keeping missions, let's make sure we commit to full support of our men and women on the military front lines. Thanks for speaking up Shane!
Thanks for respecting Shane and bringing his truly b

Anonymous on Sat, 01/19/2013 - 10:38
Title: Our Military

Thank you for the kind words.

I truly believe out military does everything they can to help those in need. Because each brain injury is different it is impossible to treat all those cases the same. The brain is still to this day a marvel of mystery. I know for everyone like me who supports the military medical system there may be two or three others who feel they were let down. I wish I had more to add, but I don't have the answers. Shane Oliver

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