Soldiers and veterans who attended a weekend wildlife retreat near Quebec’s Valcartier military base say the experience has changed their lives.

Most of them have some form of illness, most commonly post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Gary Bass and his wife Teresa travelled from P.E.I. to attend the Wounded Warriors retreat at a resort in Lac-Delage. Bass was a cook in the Canadian Armed Forces for almost 30 years and now suffers from PTSD.

“I know I’m not alone anymore, and that’s the big thing. I don’t want to be the only guy there [with PTSD],” Bass said. “It helps when you can work together, because in the Forces we’re always told to work as a team. So we’re still continuing to work as a team, and we’ll get through this, we’ll get through it together.”

Bass was one of about 50 soldiers and veterans who took advantage of the all-expenses-paid trip to Lac-Delage.

Gap in support

Wounded Warriors Canada is a not-for-profit organization offering support to soldiers and veterans. The goal of its Tribute To Your Service retreat weekends is to give people who have served in the Canadian Forces a weekend to get away from their everyday worries.

Bass said they were told participants were not expected to join in any scheduled activities if they didn’t want to.

Retired Brigadier-General Christian Barabé was a base commander at Valcartier for three years. He said he’s seen the impact of PTSD on troops. That’s why he volunteered to be the Quebec regional director for Wounded Warriors Canada.

He spoke of a gap between government programs to support not only soldiers and veterans, but also their families.

“These events will help address this important gap,” Barabé said.