The expedition so far has been amazing. It was a childhood dream of mine to get to Everest base camp and I couldn't have been in better company.
Matt Nilson and I met on this expedition, but we were co-located at different bases in Edmonton, so we knew a lot of mutual people. A year ago, we lost a military friend to suicide. He'd been battling demons from Afghanistan for a long time and felt very isolated. When he returned to Canada, he was trying to readjust and heal. Well, that would be the nice way to describe it, I suppose.
It's tough to look into the eyes of a friend and realize that the friend you knew, just isn't there anymore. There are a finite number of resources out there and it sucks that you need either a squeaky wheel or a really loud voice to get help for a friend. And in the end, are you insulting your friend by trying to get them help?
If this project does anything, I hope that it provides help for those who really need it. I like to think that if there had been more efficient funding and a clear guidance on who to talk to, my friend may not have taken his life. Mat Nilson is a prison guard in civilian life and he was telling me that he works with some guys who he served with overseas -- and he's also got guys sitting in jails cells that he's served with!
Brian is such an upbeat, positive member of the expedition that it's hard to imagine what he's experienced in his life. This is the one time that I've seen him without a smile.
The most I can do with my skill set is give a guy a hug or get him drunk. No one wants to talk to a psychologist to say their broken. I'm part of this expedition on behalf of every veteran whose paper didn't make it to the top of the pile.