Invictus Profile: Tom Martineau

A male athlete in a red shirt putts a golf ball into the hole on the putting green.
Invictus athlete Tom Martineau

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‘Taking ownership’ is important to Canadian Army Warrant Officer (Retired) Tom Martineau and is the key message he imparts to ill and injured military members, whether that illness or injury is mental or physical in nature.

Tom is a regional coordinator with OSISS – Operational Stress Injury Social Support – which provides a national peer support network for Canadian Armed Forces members, veterans, and their families experiencing an operational stress injury. And he has first-hand experience and practical knowledge of what it is like to struggle.

While on a military tour in Bosnia in 1994, Tom was shot by a sniper.

“The bullet hit my spine and caused paralysis to both of my lower limbs. Some of my internal organs were damaged and removed, as well,” Tom explains, who was 34 at the time.

Confined to a wheelchair, life looked grim. Other personal challenges became obstacles to overcome. Tom found inspiration in his mother. “She was the salt of the earth. Her love and care made me the person I am today,” says Tom, who hails from Kingston, Ontario.

Tom took ownership – and with hard work and sheer determination – he persevered. After seven years, Tom was walking again!

As one of Soldier On’s first recipients, Tom knows the value of sports and time spent with peers when it comes to rehabilitation.

The Canadian Armed Forces’ program, Soldier On, supports serving military members and veterans to overcome their physical or mental health illnesses or injuries through physical activity and sport. Soldier On is managing the team of 90 athletes who will compete at Invictus Games in Toronto, September 23– 30. Tom, a member of the team, will be competing in wheelchair basketball and golf.

“A lot of serving members and veterans have experienced a sense of failure, career-wise, from being ill or injured. Invictus Games provides an opportunity to experience success again and to enjoy the camaraderie and sportsmanship of fellow soldiers,” explains Tom about the importance of the Games.

When asked why Canadians should support and attend the Invictus Games, Tom says “It allows an opportunity to understand our military and to respect some of the sacrifices Canadian Armed Forces members have made for Canada and all Canadians. This is also a great venue for Canadians to say ‘Thank you.’”

To all ill or injured military members, Regular or Reserve Forces, serving or retired, Tom says, “Take ownership of your illness or injury. Once you take ownership, your road to recovery will begin.” Wise and powerful words. Words of truth spoken with compassion from a man who knows.
For more information about Team Canada at the Invictus Games – Toronto 2017.

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