Warrior Games 2019: A stepping-stone to wellness

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Two Canadian military members have been selected to participate in the 2019 Warrior Games, taking place in Tampa Bay, Florida from June 21 to 31. Daniel Germain and Stéphane Jobin will join roughly 300 athletes representing Canada, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Denmark at this year’s Games. They will participate in a number of adaptive sports, including archery, shooting, athletics, wheelchair rugby, and golf.

For these two former soldiers, who were released for medical reasons a few years ago, this experience is one more step towards healing. MCpl (ret’d) Jobin enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in 2000. He was a member of 5 Combat Engineer Regiment in Valcartier and deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008. Upon returning, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety and major depression. “Since my release in 2012, I have had high and low periods,” says Stéphane Jobin. “Even though I sometimes hit rock bottom, I continued to play hockey twice a week, and joined the Soldier On program two years ago.” He immediately benefited from the camaraderie and team spirit, values promoted by the organization, in particular during a training camp held in partnership with the Ottawa Senators hockey team.

Learning that he had been selected to participate in this year’s Warrior Games was a significant motivator for the former soldier. “I was going through a difficult time at home when I received the news. I immediately put on my sports gear and headed out to train,” said MCpl (ret’d) Jobin. “You feel a great emptiness when you are released. I had intended to serve 30 years in the CAF. I am pleased to have the opportunity to be able to represent Canada again, this time in a different context.”

Preparation

To prepare for the Warrior Games, Capt (ret’d) Germain and MCpl (ret’d) Jobin participated in a one-week training camp at the end of March, along with other Soldier On members invited to be part of Team Canada. During this camp, held in Victoria, British Columbia, the two former soldiers forged the foundation of a strong friendship.

In addition to being able to devote several hours a day to their physical training, they had the opportunity to hear from inspiring speakers. They particularly appreciated the presence of Michelle Stilwell, six-time Paralympic Games gold medalist. Ms. Stilwell won her medals for her remarkable performances in wheelchair basketball and track.

“After multiple surgeries and chronic pain following an accident that she was involved in when she was 17 years old, she has gone on to compete athletically at the highest level, and has given birth to a beautiful child…she is incredibly strong! I keep her motto top of mind, ‘inspire others to reach their full potential’,” said Capt (ret’d) Germain, who served 20 years in the Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force before being medically released.

Looking ahead

Both Capt (ret’d) Germain and MCpl (ret’d) Jobin being fathers, they are looking to inspire their own family members through their participation in the Warrior Games this summer. “We are looking ahead and moving on, putting the past behind us. Competition at the Warrior Games is not an end in itself, but a stepping stone that will allow us to develop healthy lifestyles despite our difficulties,” the two friends said in unison.

They want to encourage other military members, whether retired or still serving, not to wait until their situation deteriorates before raising their hands and taking advantage of the services available to them. They also welcome the creation of the CAF Transition Group, whose mission is to facilitate a smooth transition from military to civilian life.

The Warrior Games were founded in 2010 by the United States Department of Defence. This year, they will be hosted by the U.S. Special Operations Command. The Warrior Games seek to promote the rehabilitation and recovery of ill and injured members of the military through sport.

The CAF’s Soldier On Program has supported close to 5,000 members since its inception more than 12 years ago, and remains committed to supporting serving members, and Veterans members with a permanent mental or physical injury, to adapt to their new normal and overcome their challenges.

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