After months of anticipation, the Invictus Team Canada’s first training camp was held the first week of April. The camp allowed members to finally connect face-to-face while getting some real-time training under their belts.
Held in Victoria, BC, the training camp brought together close to 90 veterans and still-serving Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members part of the 2017 Invictus Games Team.
After a welcome brief Sunday evening to introduce the program and the teammates to one another, the training camp hit the ground running Monday with an official opening ceremony. Following the ceremony, the team dispersed to several locations across Victoria, including the Commonwealth Pool, the Pacific Institute of Sports Excellence (PISE), the Vic Bowmen Archery Club and CFB Esquimalt, to begin training.
The most important element of training, however, is finally making the personal connections and meeting face-to-face after months of communication through virtual platforms.
“There’s nothing that beats getting together face-to-face, getting to talk to someone, you know the hugs and high fives. Some of them they’ve known each other from past postings or been on deployments together or exercises. So, it was really neat to see that camaraderie right from the get-go, from that welcome brief,” said Greg Lagacé, MSM, Soldier On Founder and Manager, Director Casualty Support Management (DCSM).
The camaraderie between teammates truly comes to light, says Lagacé, not in the sporting arena but in the dining halls, the car rides and the common areas.
“That’s really where the true value of what we do is apparent and you see it. That’s really where the healing happens,” noted Lagacé.
On Wednesday the Invictus team was paid a special visit by the Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan.
“I think it’s extremely important that the most senior political leader, for the Department of National Defence, comes out and speaks to them and tell these ill and injured right to their face, in public, about the importance of this program and government support,” said Lagacé.
Not only did Minister Sajjan spend time speaking to media and meeting with the members, he also joined the Invictus Team in training both on the track and on the rowing machine.
“He’s not just an individual who talks the talk but he also walks the walk,” commented Lagacé.
The Minister’s personal involvement with Soldier On as part of his recovery truly showed, said Lagacé, as he took several hours of the day out to really talk to each of the ill and injured CAF members and veterans.
“He made sure he had enough time to really have some one-on-one conversations with these members. It was a great opportunity to not only thank him but also for them to tell a little bit about some of their struggles. That’s important. That the individual that’s really shaping the future of defence policy and the programs and services that will be delivered for the caring of the ill and injured, understands right from the source the trials and tribulations. So, that when he does make decisions he’s making them in the best interest of the ill and injured,” noted Lagacé.
The next Team Canada Invictus training camp will take place from June 12-16 at CFB Kingston. The Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada, Kent Hehr, is scheduled to attend.