A Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) veteran is currently walking more than 900 km from Prince George to Victoria, BC in hopes of raising funds and awareness for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) victims.
Former CAF member, Robert Gagnon, left his hometown of Prince George, BC on June 28 and is walking 30 km a day to bring awareness for first responders and veterans who suffer from PTSD.
“I believe our government and elected officials need to start paying more attention to the veterans and first responders, in regards to PTSD, because of its rampant in our work areas.
“I want the stigma to be erased, if you have it it’s not a bad thing,” said Gagnon.
It’s also a healing walk for the 44-year-old-veteran, who also suffers from PTSD.
“It’s got a personal meaning for me, a healing journey I guess you could say,” commented Gagnon.
The attention he’s received from his walk has forced Gagnon to break out of his shell and speak to a variety of people, something he isn’t used to because of his PTSD.
Gagnon served in the CAF from 1993-1995 and again from 2011-2016 as a corporal in the infantry. He is now working as a correctional officer at the Prince George Regional Correctional Centre.
Gagnon is currently on day 15 of the walk and has approximately 11 more to go.
“This is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life… It takes its toll on the body and the mind. I’m slowly breaking down those walls to get to be at a place where I need to be,” said Gagnon.
One of the most impactful moments of his journey, so far, was when he came across the victims of the raging wildfires in Cache Creek, BC.
“I can see my fellow citizens are going through some really bad hardships. I’ve talked to a lot of people and this really is heartbreaking. It adds a little bit more meaning to that aspect,” remembered Gagnon.
Half of the money Gagnon is collecting through his GoFundMe page, the Veterans Farm, an equine therapy ranch run by CAF veteran Paul Nichols in Quesnel, BC and the other half will go towards the Honour Ranch in Kamloops, BC, which works with first responders and veterans with PTSD.
“Your supporting veterans and first responders. These are the people who are front line workers and who defend our country. I think in the end we owe them a little something back in return for the service that they’ve provided,” said Gagnon.