But before that happened I went through some tough changes.
That first year after I was released I went through a major transformation. At the age of 21 I signed on as a soldier and pushing into 33 I suddenly found my identity stripped away. I defined myself as a soldier, I believed in all the things the military instills, brotherhood, honor, integrity. Suddenly on the outside looking in I felt lost in this new civilian life and fell into a state of depression. I had some pretty tough days and harbored thoughts that were self destructive.
When I finally admitted to my wife that I thought I might be clinically depressed I tried to seek help in the civilian healthcare system, what I found there was people pushing prescriptions instead of offering solutions. Paxal was the drug they were recommending, but no one wanted to talk about what ailed me, because honestly, no one understood.
Finally, I did find someone through my Long Term Disability Counselor. He referred me to a clinical psychologist, a retired Colonel who served in the South African Air Force. After the first session I knew I was going to get better and adjust to my new life as a civilian. I was lucky, I didn't lose a leg, or see a friend killed in the line of duty. I never saw action, but the transition from soldier to civilian is tough enough when you go unprepared.
Today we have soldiers who have served in combat, it isn't enough to give them the equipment to do the job, we owe it to them to be there when they need us. After the mission, when they have to cross over from soldier to civilian. It is unacceptable in this day and age that a soldier does not have the support system to deal with the difficulties brought on by service. Especially combat service.
We have asked these soldiers to be there, and go places, to serve this nation. At the very least we owe them the courtesy of helping them after the sacrifices they have made. If we do nothing to change this, shame on all of us for asking for their service.
Write your MP and tell them. Enough is enough.
Master Bombardier Mark J Preston CD Retired
1986 -1998 Royal Canadian Horse Artillery