Soldier On – Helping Support Those Who Serve
By Lt(N) Kelly Boyden
Service and sacrifice for one’s country… there is no better embodiment of this ethos than the 90 members of Team Canada and their international counterparts at the Invictus Games. The ill and injured members and veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces who make up Team Canada continue to serve their country and make all Canadians proud. In this, they are not alone.
There are a full range of support services that are available to Team Canada members. Services include medical care provided through Canadian Forces Health Services, peer support counsellors of Operation Stress Injury Social Support (OSISS) checking in with team members, Military Family Services workers helping look after the needs of team member’s families, and many others.
At the centre of all this support is one organization in particular – Soldier On.
”Soldier On has helped me to do things I didn’t think I was able to do. More importantly, it has allowed me to feel that competitive side that I haven’t felt since my injury,” said Lorne Ford, member of Team Canada competing in indoor rowing and wheelchair rugby. “It is more than just another organization… it’s a family. The staff have lived the struggle of conquering their own injuries and know from personal experience what it means to adapt and overcome.”
Established in 2006, Soldier On is a Canadian Armed Forces program that supports serving and former service personnel to overcome their physical and mental illness or injury through participation in sport and physical activity. Through a combination of public and non-public funds and the generosity of Canadians, Soldier On has been able to help athletes competing in Toronto this week attain their dream of representing Canada at the Invictus Games 2017.
“We’ve been lucky enough to be able to provide our Team with top-notch coaching and equipment,” said Team Canada and Soldier On, manager Greg Lagace. “We’ve provided the opportunity, but it’s the athletes who have put in the hours of training and hard work.”
“We’ve brought together a team that stretches from coast to coast,” added Soldier On, senior manager Jay Feyko. “It’s great to see all of Canada represented here. At heart, Invictus is about people, about overcoming adversity through camaraderie and sport, and about the journey of recovery.”
Invictus Games 2017 continues until September 30 but the journey of recovery never stops. It becomes a way of life.
“We’ve got fall hockey and horseback riding camps coming up and we’ve already begun planning for Invictus 2018 in Australia,” said Mr. Lagace. “It’s hard work, but great fun as well… and if these competitors can’t inspire you, nothing will!”
Invictus 2017 in Toronto… it’s about smiles and success stories, backed in part by a program named Soldier On.
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