A support group for veterans is putting feelers out to see if there’s interest in expanding its services to the West Prince region.
“We notice that we have a fairly large group of veterans in the Summerside area, but, a few veterans mentioned we’re missing out on West Prince,” said Rebecca Murphy, veteran service coordinator for the Post Traumatic Growth Association (PTGA). “We wanted to get an idea of how many veterans are in the area, if they would be interested, and then we could find a location that would be best suited. Say I started having the meeting in Wellington, and there’s more veterans coming down from O’Leary, or Tignish, maybe I would be better suited going a little further west so they don’t have to travel so far.”
The PTGA is a non-profit, nonpartisan group dedicated to providing support for those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or operational stress injuries (OSI), offering peer support groups, and activities in the local community where individuals can get together, build relationships, and maybe take their mind off problems they might be dealing with at home, or with an injury they might have, because it’s easier to talk to someone who has had similar experiences.
“As the spouse of a military member, when you leave the military, you lose that sense of community that you had when you lived on base,” said Ms Murphy. “They all worked together, we all spent time together after work, so we’re just basically trying to create a small community within the community.”
The organization is also looking at doing more for the full family unit as well, including activities the whole family can do so the whole family is getting that sense of community and sense of support. These activities include things like a weekly game of disc golf, along with a golf simulator day, a paint night, and there are talks of having a family movie night. The organization is also hosting a golf fundraiser in June.
Offices are currently just in Charlottetown, but weekly peer support meetings are offered in Charlottetown, Summerside, and Kensington.
Along with veterans, the PTGA is expanding services to first responders as well, though these meetings will be separate from the meetings for veterans.
“It’s not because we want to have a separation between a veteran and a firefighter,” explained Ms Murphy. “Their PTSD, or their injuries, are very different, and we want them to have their own specific group for peer support.”
Ms Murphy’s husband is a veteran, serving two terms in Afghanistan. During one term, she gave birth to their second child, and her parents flew in from Alberta to help her because she knew it was something she couldn’t do it on her own. She said you have to recognize when sometimes you can’t do things for yourself, and in that instance, she needed help.
PTSD is something that doesn’t go away, but symptoms can be managed. Ms Murphy said she knows there are going to be bad days, but she would rather someone that’s isolating themselves reach out to the their community and get the support they need instead of just hiding away, which doesn’t fix anything.
“There are people out there that are going through the exact same thing, and they may be able to give you some advice, or say ‘I tried, this, this, and this, and this helps’ rather than sitting there and hoping it will just go away,” she said. “My husband, for years, hid in the basement after he got home from Afghanistan, just thinking ‘I don’t want to be around people’. He says every day now that he’s out and about doing things that he’s happier. We realize that if you’re out with like-minded individuals, with no pressure, you can create those relationships, to grow, and that’s what the Post Traumatic Growth Association is, to grow past your OSI.”
If anyone is interested in learning more about the PTGA and what it offers, they are welcome to contact Ms Murphy via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.