A pair of retired veterans from the Canadian Forces are marching across Canada to raise awareness and funds to help combat post-traumatic stress disorder. They'll be in Amherst next Thursday.
AMHERST – A pair of retired Canadian servicemen are coming through Amherst next week on their walk across Canada to raise awareness about post-traumatic stress disorder.
Steve Hartwig and Jason MacKenzie are expected to arrive in Amherst on Thursday, Sept. 5 at approximately 12:30 p.m.
They are expected to visit the cenotaph in downtown Amherst before continuing on their journey that began in June in Vancouver, B.C.
Through the Into No Man’s Land March, Hartwig and MacKenzie are walking 32 kilometres each day broken down into two ruck sack marches of 16 kilometres each. The march is being augmented by short drives to cover the country over 10 weeks.
Jennifer Dow said she hopes their walk helps start an important conversation.
“Since the events of June 4 I have given a lot of thought to the safety and wellbeing of our first reponders,” Dow said. “These Canadian heroes leave their own families to go to work to protect other people’s families and our freedoms.”
Dow said it’s essential to stop the stigma surrounding PTSD, deal with it head-on and openly engage in conversations.
“Although some of the bravest men and women in our community are first responders, they are still human,” said Dow, whose spouse is a first responder.
She is hoping as many first responders, both serving and retired, will come to the event to show their support for the pair and she said the event is also open to the public.
Hartwig and MacKenzie met during basic training with the Canadian Forces in 1992. They served with the Third Battalion Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry and were deployed to the former Yugoslavia.
They both returned home from the UN tour suffering the stressed of war and were diagnosed with PTSD some 20 years ago.
Hartwig decided earlier this year that he wanted to make a difference for all people dealing with their PTSD issues and started planning to walk across Canada. He started in June with the support of MacKenzie, family and friends.
The goal of the march is to bring awareness to PTSD and the pair are walking for all front line workers including police, fire, emergency medical services, Corrections and all those dealing with PTSD diagnosis.
In the past 11 weeks, 17 first responders have committed suicide across Canada. As recently reported by the RCMP, since 2006 there have been 31 suicides in the force related to PTSD and four serving or retired officers took their own lives just this year.
Fifty Canadian Forces veterans have committed suicide over the last three years.
For more information on the march, go to www.IntoNoMansLand.com .