Health and Wellness

Secret War a Must-See Documentary

This Saturday the CBC will air Secret War, a documentary that explores the world of ill and injured Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) veterans and members participating in the War Horse assisted therapy programming.

“We were approached and asked if we wanted to be a part of this project these Carlton University journalism students were putting together. After some careful consideration and agreement from the group members, we went ahead with it. The documentary was entered in a contest run by CBC, and it won. Now it will be on national television. We are happy with the result,” said Alison Vandergragt, with Hope Reins.

The documentary was created by students Emanuela Campanella, Fangliang Xu, Sarah Turnbull and Shannon Lough focuses on two veterans who returned from the war in Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder. The soldiers came across the War Horse program and began their journey to finding peace.

“I think the airing of the documentary will bring awareness of what returning soldiers are struggling with. Every single soldier faces a different battle, and I think this documentary will give the audience a broad view of their different experiences and inspire hope,” said Vandergragt.

Secret War was a labour of love for the four students. They had never collaborated before on a project and were very pleased with the ultimate result. In a YouTube promotion of the documentary Shannon Lough spoke for the group, explaining they wanted to tell the story to a broader audience, and they didn’t want their film to be closed up at Carlton University. The ultimate goal of the four women was to show their documentary to the entire country. With the debut in early August, their wish has come true.

Hope Reins and The Phoenix Centre for Children & Families in Pembroke work together to provide horse assisted therapy within the Petawawa community. The War Horse project uses the innate abilities of horses to teach people skills to rebuild, repair and enhance their lives and relationships. The project was designed for Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members and First Responders suffering from visible or non-visible injuries including, PTSD and other traumas.

The multi-phase program enables people to address mental health and well-being concerns while engaging in activities of self-discovery and self-regulation in a safe and monitored horse arena. Horses are used as part of the therapeutic process because their reactions and responses to behaviours are similar to humans. Horses do not immediately offer unconditional love, trust, loyalty or anything until a balanced relationship has been established between them and the person they are interacting with. Horses live in the moment. Therefore, they give immediate and honest feedback.

CBC will be airing the documentary Secret War on August 1, 2015, at 7:00 p.m. EST. If you can’t catch be sure to set your PVR.

To learn more about horse assisted therapy, Hope Reigns and the War Horse Project please visit their website.

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Vicki L Morrison

Thanks to her husband's military career Vicki reinvented herself as a writer so she could work from home, while taking care of their three kids. A former MFRC executive director Vicki is a passionate advocate for military families who loves telling their stories.

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