Nfld. & Labrador

This veteran is driving across the country on his motorcycle to break the stigma around PTSD

Michael Terry is driving more than 22,000 kilometres to get soldiers talking about their mental health.

Michael Terry’s Ride for Veterans makes stop in St. John's

Michael Terry wants to get more veterans talking about their experiences with PTSD. (Fred Hutton/CBC)

A veteran who recently retired after a 23-year career with the Canadian Armed Forces is riding his motorcycle across the country to give a voice to members of the military suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Michael Terry's Ride for Veterans has taken him from Meaford, Ont., to Newfoundland and Labrador, and will end in Vancouver in the middle of August.

He arrived in St. John's on Canada Day and on Monday spoke to the St. John's Morning Show about his desire to connect with other people in the military who are battling mental illness.

"It's very easy for us to struggle in silence and feel like we're alone in those struggles," he said.

"We don't talk about it, there's a lot of stigma, and really my hope is that I can start to break that stigma, start to get people talking and we can stop losing people to isolation."

Diagnosed with PTSD

​Terry's done stints in Bosnia and Afghanistan and said he's witnessed too many people succumb to suicide after returning back home from active duty.

Michael Terry poses for a photo at the top of Signal Hill. (Michael Terry/Facebook)

He was first diagnosed with PTSD around 2001.

"I struggled with being very withdrawn, being depressed, isolating myself, [and] struggled on and off with addiction."

After retiring last April, he said he began to notice a few warning signs that his mental health was struggling.

"I essentially retired alone, no family nearby at all, no close connections really other than the ones I established in the Forces."

Losing his military family and the pursuit of a common goal was hard for him, and he said that's something he often hears from other veterans. 

Journey will conclude in August

Terry left Meaford on June 18, and will spend the next seven days in N.L., making stops in Gros Morne, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, and Labrador City before heading west toward Quebec

Along the way, he's inviting veterans to speak with him about their journey with PTSD, and to open up about their experiences. 

When he first joined the military, Terry said the culture surrounding mental health wasn't what it is today.

He's slowly seen that change, and he's been motivated by other veterans who have been sharing their stories online. 

"I encourage people to just come out and ride with me," he said.

"Take part in the journey, I appreciate anybody that does. Come out and talk with me. Especially veterans if they want to share their story." 

By the time he makes it to Vancouver on Aug. 15, he expects to have driven more than 22,000 kilometres in pursuit of his goal.

With files from the St. John's Morning Show