Your poppy donations at work

New veterans' transition program receiving great reviews from participants

I thought I would begin this week’s column with an excerpt from a  memo which came in from BC/Yukon Command concerning their Veterans’ Transition Program.  It’s very valuable information and also lets you in on where some of the Poppy Funds raised goes to.

• VTP Programs are run based on need. We are experiencing high volumes of requests from veterans right now because the program is getting to be very well known and respected – and more importantly, we have so many young people coming home from service now who really need help before it is too late.

• Our fundraising goal from Poppy this year for the VTP program courses (the hands on counseling done with veterans) is $250,000.

• For Branches who think this is a “Vancouver thing” which doesn’t help veterans from their communities, I submit to you a sampling of home towns cited by a few of our 200 graduates:

Sooke,  Salmon Arm, Kamloops, Prince George, Prince Rupert, Kelowna, Chilliwack, Hazelton, Nanaimo, Victoria, Vancouver, Anmore, Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Esquimalt, Terrace, New Westminster, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, North Vancouver, Langley, Williams Lake, White Horse, Port Moody, Coquitlam, Surrey, White Rock, Cranbrook, Aldergrove, Gibsons, Vernon, Grand Forks and Maple Ridge.

• Last year 40 Branches completed SUE forms allocating $95,500 towards VTP. One Zone gave $255, Seven LA’S gave $4,500 and the three large Poppy Funds gave $31,000. The rest was covered by Command Central Poppy Fund.

•VTP needs significantly more support money this year to cover the urgent need. It is a fact this year (and the next few) will see more and more of these young folks collapsing under the strain of the burden they carry. This program is unique and is gaining international recognition in terms of results and research publication on the science of PTSD.

• If you can look at your Poppy Fund and consider contributing for the programs this year, every dollar is critical. Simply complete the “Special Use Expenditure” with the amount approved at a general meeting – your Branch can contribute to one of the most important things we do for our veterans.

I will leave you with excerpts from a letter we got from a young veteran who has taken our course.

The VTP saves lives and for most, it dramatically changes and improves veterans’ ways of coping and dealing with life that are living with any type of emotional challenges resulting from military or police service.

Because the VTP is part of UBC therapy and funded by the BC Legion, not in the rigid box of rules coming from government organizations such as CF/DND/VAC, it has the power and compassionate therapeutic approaches to work outside the box. That is what truly helps make positive change and also alleviate suspicions and fear.

After significant encouragement from my Doctor I attended the VTP. Dr Marv Westwood, Dr David Kuhl and Duncan Shields were the facilitators during my session and I am thankful for their presence. They and the program have made an immensely positive impact in my life. The VTP changed my life dramatically for the positive and I noted many others that had a similar experience. While I was there, Judy Jackson filmed part of her documentary “War in the Mind.”

Powerful program for positive change in vets lives and for military members transitioning back to normal civilian life. I can’t say enough about it and am very thankful.

Definitely good information and something for all of us to consider at the next general meeting which is slated for March 6, 7 pm in the Hall.

On a local note, the Burns Lake Auction and Dance Fundraiser will be held in the Legion Hall  Feb. 25. Doors open at 7 p.m. with the live auction at 7:30 p.m. The dance follows the auction. Tickets for this worthwhile venture are available at Regency Chrysler and the Legion.  Hope to see you all there.

Another local event is scheduled to coincide with the beginning of the Comeau Dart Shoot.  On March 2, beginning at 12 p.m. you can enjoy a prime rib buffet for the very reasonable price of $12.95.  What a great way to start this wonderful, fun-filled weekend.  Come out and enjoy the fun.

Are you in the market for a scooter?  Then you just may be in luck.  The Rick Hansen Foundation was gifted with a near new scooter which they would like to pay forward to a person in need a.s.a.p. Contact the office at 250-992-6819 and Wanda can provide you with the application details.  You may apply for yourself or maybe you know of someone that could benefit from this generous gift. There is a deadline so be aware.  They hope to award the scooter before our fiscal year end, application deadline is Feb. 29.

Until next week – be kind to each other.

Sharon MacDonald is a member of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 94 in Quesnel.