The stories of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members that served on peacekeeping missions in the 1990s have largely gone untold, and the reality of these missions many times shrouded in mystery.
Decades after these peacekeeping missions, former CAF member Scott Casey is breaking the silence in his upcoming book “Ghostkeepers.”
“Although it’s my story I’m telling it so that the average person knows what the average guy did within the November Company.
“I’m giving Canadians, or anybody who wants to read this book, the opportunity to strap on a pair of boots, carry a rifle and put a helmet on and go live vicariously as a peacekeeper 25 years ago,” said Casey.
Casey, who joined the infantry in 1986 right out of high school, was sent to the former Yugoslavia in March of 1992 in what was supposed to be a simple peacekeeping mission to protect civilians and maintain harmony between the warring parties. However, the country was in disarray, facing a civil war and genocide.
“Friday night we are at home kissing the wife, petting the dog and playing with the kids and by Saturday morning you’re up to your eyeballs in blood, guts, and killing. Seven months later, on Friday you’re up to your eyeballs in blood, guys, and killing and by Saturday you’re home kissing the wife, petting the dog and playing with the kids. And you’re supposed to be normal,” said Casey, as an anecdote, he often uses to explain the situation.
The mission became much more complex, and the experience was shocking for Casey.
“Basically, you take a Canadian boy 24 years ago. The world, in our eyes, was in relative peace everywhere we went…then you get into that place, the former Yugoslavia, it was horrible, everything from poverty to genocide, pretty horrific for just a regular Canadian,” recalled Casey.
The seven months he spent on the peacekeeping mission left a lasting impact on Casey’s life, that affected his personal life and relationship with his family.
“The families don’t really change, they do to some degree, but they’re still who they were when you left. When you come back, whether you have PTSD or not, you are still a changed person,” commented Casey.
Casey began writing his story as a memoir for his children.
“All too often soldiers’ stories go unwritten and untold, and I wanted my kids to know what I did, what the guys I worked with did,” said Casey.
Often times, Casey would look at pictures taken from the mission, relive a moment and then record the story. The writing process served as a way for him to come to terms with the things he’d seen and done, and the story eventually transcended to one about the company he served with.
Casey believes the book will help Canadians understand what a real peacekeeping mission is, especially in today’s world with the Government of Canada looking to re-engage in peacekeeping missions.
“I’m not the first person to say this: peacekeeping is rather a myth. There are opportunities to provide care for people in war-torn zones, but I think we need to use caution how we go about it nowadays,” said Casey.
After many years of looking for someone to publish the book, Casey found an American publisher earlier this year. As the time nears for the release date, he says he’s both nervous and excited for the story to finally be out in public.
“I’m excited that this story is going to be told so that the nearly dozen guys from our tour that have committed suicide their stories will be told and people will understand why it’s been so traumatic for us,” said Casey.
Ghostkeepers is expected to be released in the next few months.