A group of 12 veterans helicoptered to a mountain near Whistler Saturday (Aug. 27) for a seven-kilometre hike intended to raise awareness about chronic pain.
Veterans suffer from chronic pain at twice the rate of the civilian population, according to the Chronic Pain Centre of Excellence for Canadian Veterans.
This often leads to other mental health and addiction struggles, veteran and leadership coach Bruno Guevrement told Black Press Media.
“Everybody deals with pain differently, but to be able to deal with chronic pain on a daily basis, that takes somebody who’s extremely resilient,” he said.
Guevrement served 15 years in the military and has since suffered pain from a broken back and post traumatic stress disorder. For him, adventures like this have helped him in his healing journey.
“That drive for adventure is the catalyst. If we can get guys motivated, they start working out and they’re saying ‘Oh my god, I’m feeling better, I’m eating better, I’m losing weight.’”
He said veterans are more likely to suffer chronic pain because of the identity they often carry: a “mission first, self last” mindset. Incorporating that teamwork and drive into treatment is key to helping ease pain, Guevrement said.
“If you signed up, if you put your name on the dotted line, you’re somebody who’s out there looking for something more, something bigger than you, that’s what we’re trying to recreate,” he said.
The veterans travelled from New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and B.C. to partake in the hike.
Lindsay Rite is the director of Integrative Health at CHANGEpain clinic and helped organize the event. She hopes it becomes an annual event for veterans, and most importantly, helps those suffering.
“It really is about supporting the veterans that are suffering right now, and providing a service for them, given that they have served for us,” Rite said.
She emphasized the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to pain management and said events like these are crucial for the healing process.
“We really take an innovative, unique approach to help people on a personal level, but being able to do it in this way through nature, and through this goal, it’s a medium that’s really unique and healing. It’s been pretty special.”