The Rolling Barrage, consisting of serving Canadian Armed Forces members, veterans, first responders and their civilian supporters, is currently on its third trip across Canada to raise funds and awareness of the need for more services to treat veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
A group of riders, having set out from Barrie Tuesday morning, rolled into the Husky parking lot on Highway 17 East late Tuesday afternoon, greeted and joined by Sault bike enthusiasts from a number of groups on the way to a dinner and pub night at The Water Tower Inn.
“It’s a good ride. It goes from the Atlantic to the Pacific and they bring a huge amount of awareness every year when they go across the country, raising thousands of dollars,” said Brian Nadon,who holds the rank of major in the 49th (Sault Ste. Marie) Field Regiment, speaking to SooToday.
Nadon served with the Canadian Army in Afghanistan twice, in 2008-2009 and again in 2012-2013.
“I’ve been overseas a couple of times myself and I’ve seen the effects of PTSD on some soldiers who deal with it, and there isn’t enough support for them when they get out of the military,” Nadon said.
“I haven’t been personally affected by it but there’s some nasty stuff soldiers have seen.”
“On the military side they still get a lot of help, but once they leave the Canadian Forces, there needs to be more money and resources devoted to retired veterans to get them the help they need,” Nadon said.
“I’ve seen others have trouble adjusting to civilian life when they come back, problems relating to other people, in more severe cases they lash out...they’re moving from being submerged in a culture and situation with a heightened sense of readiness all the time, then going back into the civilian world. It’s a slower pace, and it’s really hard for some guys to flip the switch from ‘war zone’ to’ downtown,’” Nadon said.
“We’re not helping these guys enough,” said Dean St. Pierre, a Bikers Rights Organization (BRO) captain.
“They’ve served our country and they should be cared for. They have PTSD. If we’ve sent guys overseas we should care for them when they come back. If the government says it costs too much I would say ‘hey, it wasn’t too much for you to suit them up and send them over there.’ We give money to so many other groups, why not give money to these veterans?” St. Pierre said.
Approximately 30 riders, a mix of those who came from elsewhere across Canada and those local riders who greeted and joined them, took part in Tuesday’s roll through the Sault toward The Water Tower Inn.
“Hopefully we’ll be raising some funds for them tonight at the pub. We’ll have combat boots on the pub tables for donations,” said the Algoma Veterans Association’s Kevin McNama, who served for 22 years in the Canadian Army.
“One of the stops in Saskatchewan puts on a big party for them. There are a lot of people who have PTSD, veterans and people who work as first responders too, but it’s hidden. People don’t know about it and we need to get the message out there,” McNama said.
More information about The Rolling Barrage may be found on its website