Beyond The Uniform

Veterans travel back to Bosnia to heal old wounds

A new French web documentary produced by Radio-Canada “Faire la Paix avec la Guerre” sheds light on PTSD, and the aftermath of a Bosnia peacekeeping mission 25 years later. 

Valérie Lessard, assignment editor with Radio-Canada, knew of four former Blue Helmets planning a trip back to Bosnia earlier this year. After meeting two of the four men, Érick Moyneur and Dominique Brière in March 2018 and learning about each of their experiences the four brothers in arms agreed to capture footage during their two and a half week journey back to Bosnia. 

“They didn’t come back injured in a physical way, but in the documentary you can tell they came back, some of them more bruised than others,” says Lessard. “They came back with wounds, and maybe wanting to heal those wounds by going back. Putting new colours on black and white memories that they brought back, and maybe find laughter, and birds singing in places where they only heard silence or snipers.”

When they arrived in Bosnia in April of this year, the four men would turn on a dash cam and film their travels with a camera. Radio-Canada was allowed access to all the footage, which was over 20 hours, and Lessard would check in over Skype during their travels.

A week after they returned, they met with Lessard at the studio for the first time since they traveled back to Bosnia. They shot footage at Érick’s cottage in September, almost six months later. 

When they opened up on their past and present experiences, they realized talking with one another was the way to understand each other’s experiences and what they had gone through 25 years ago in their brotherhood.

“Going through those memories with them, and going through that journey with them for the last eight months now gave us what we wanted,” says, Lessard. “In some ways, if we could actually help others to talk about what they have been through, either in Bosnia or Afghanistan or anywhere some military sources would’ve been deployed. We wanted to share from the inside, those stories, so the main purpose of the whole project wasn’t to talk about what happened on specific dates and event in Bosnia. It was to go through those memories and try and figure out a way to give them sense.”

Lessard hopes the project will reach others who may be struggling, and make people realize that by talking to someone, it might be a positive way to heal and make sense of their own internal wars.

“Maybe if they see us opening up like that, maybe they open up themselves to others and try to make sense of what they lived, what they went through and what they can make peace with.”

The documentary project is available to read in French, click here to learn more.

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Paige LeClair

As a recent graduate from the St. Thomas University Journalism program, Paige has a passion for storytelling and investigative journalism. In 2016, she, along with her journalism team were awarded first place at the Emerge Media Awards in the multimedia category. The team was also a finalist at the Canadian Association of Journalist Awards. She is excited to work with other military spouses providing stories and information to the military community. Paige is newly married to Andrew, a Lineman, and moved to their first posting in Petawawa in May of this year. She is excited to begin this journey with Andrew, their dog Diablo, and cat, Linux

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Canadian Military Family Magazine