British Columbia

'We won't turn anyone away': new PTSD-treatment facility opening for veterans

First responders and military personnel in British Columbia dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder will soon have a new safe haven at a specialized ranch offering mental health services and support in the province's Interior.

Honour House Society is creating a second refuge at a ranch near Ashcroft, B.C.

Honour House Society held a ceremonial launch Saturday afternoon, ahead of the official opening of their new facility in Ashcroft, B.C., an Interior community near Kamloops.

First responders and military personnel in British Columbia dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder will soon have a new safe haven in Interior B.C. at a specialized ranch offering mental health services and support. 

The Honour House Society, a non-profit that runs a similar recovery home for uniformed personnel and their families in New Westminster, B.C., is planning to have the second facility near Kamloops operational by next year. 

They held a ceremonial launch Saturday afternoon, ahead of the official opening. 

"All of our front-line serving men and women, who give unconditionally each and every day — today is the day they know that if they're struggling with the silent and invisible injury [PTSD], we're here for them," said Allan De Genova, president of the society. 

Allan De Genova, president of Honour House Society, was inspired to initiate the project after watching a documentary about Trevor Greene, a Canadian Forces officer who suffered a massive brain injury in a 2006 axe attack in Afghanistan. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

The new facility sits on an expansive 120-acres of land near Ashcroft and has ten cottages that can accommodate groups or individuals.

In total, about 40 people fit in the main lodge at the ranch — but De Genova said they won't close the doors to anyone because of space.

"It might get cozy from time to time, but we're here to look after them unconditionally," he said. "We won't turn anyone away."

The ranch is designed to emphasize the natural surroundings and bring a sense of tranquillity and peace to all those who pass through. 

"The serenity of when you drive up through the gate, past  the horses in the field and the rolling hills ... it's magical," said De Genova.

Honour House doesn't directly provide mental health services and counselling, but offers space for those with operational stress injuries, like PTSD, to attend support programs and treatment. 

Capt. Trevor Greene says facilities like the Honour House are crucial for helping veterans. (CBC)

De Genova opened the first facility in 2010, after seeing a documentary about Capt. Trevor Greene who was violently injured in an axe attack while deployed in Afghanistan in 2006. He suffered a serious brain injury and PTSD as a result. 

"I hit a wall afterwards," said Greene. 

The Honour House Society also runs a similar home in New Westminster, B.C. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

He says facilities like the Honour House are crucial for helping people who have experiences like his. 

"It's a different kind of therapy and it's so important," he said.

"There can still be a lot of stigma."

De Genova said breaking that stigma around mental health is part of what he's striving for. 

"Our men and women suffer in silence and they're the best in covering up until it's too late," he said. "Reach out, it's okay."

Honour House originally planned to open the second house on donated land in Kamloops but it's proximity to railway tracks and the loud noise of passing trains triggered painful memories for some of the people seeking support, De Genova said. 

About the Author

Clare Hennig

@clare_hennig

Clare Hennig is a web writer and digital associate producer at CBC Vancouver. Follow her on Twitter: @clare_hennig

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