Why I Give: Frank Millar Connolly (RCNVR) Memorial

Frank Millar Connolly RCNVR during the war outside of his home in Montreal

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By Dan Connolly, DMGSP Materiel Group Internal Communications

As the son and grandson of veterans from the First and Second World Wars, I’ve experienced the devastating effects that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has on veterans and their families. As part of my own personal healing journey, I’ve chosen to walk the Camino de Santiago, a 780 km trail from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, in October 2018. This walk is also dedicated to my dad, Frank Connolly, Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve (RCNVR), who served during the Second World War on board a corvette during the Battle of the Atlantic.

At that time there wasn’t the awareness and understanding of PTSD that there is today. After the war, Dad made a living as a horse trainer. He would recover race horses from the track and train them to be hunters and show jumpers. Later on he opened a saddlery store, but he always kept a few horses around and, in retrospect, I’m sure that the bond he developed with them played a key role in his healing.

Growing up, our family always had a dog or two. One winter day Dad came home with a Great Dane he rescued from a gas station. Sandy had been tied up outside in the freezing cold and Dad just couldn’t leave her there. She was with us, much loved, for many years. On another occasion, he brought home a champion show dog, a Dalmatian who had been deemed dangerous due to its temper, and was scheduled to be destroyed. Dad brought him home and slowly, with a patience and love, “Cappy” gradually came around to become a valued and beloved member of the family.

Dad always seemed to share a deep bond with animals. There is a very powerful healing alchemy that takes place between a person and an animal that goes beyond understanding and mere words. That’s why I chose to make the Canadian Veteran Service Dog Unit (CVSDU) part of my healing journey. My hope is that together we can raise at least $10,000.00 for the CVSDU.

This is from the CVSDU website: “The dogs we have in the unit are making an incredible difference in their lives and helping them get back to the person they used to be. We have had veterans in the unit starting out on high levels of anti-anxiety medication and therapy that are now drug free and carrying on a normal life again. The dogs respond to their anxiety and take the member out of those situations. Watch the member’s back in crowds. Provide the member with a perimeter in crowds, wake the member from nightmares and snap the member out of flashbacks. One of our members refers to her dog as her anchor to reality. We have some of our dogs helping members with mobility related disabilities as well.”

Please open your hearts and give through the Frank Millar Connolly (RCNVR) Memorial Camino page.

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