Nfld. & Labrador

Vigil at St. John's War Memorial highlights struggles faced by veterans

Two veterans hoping to raise awareness about the difficulties faced by many former military members in this country held a cold, wet vigil for 24 hours at the War Memorial in St. John's this weekend.
Mark Gauci and Don Hookey stood vigil for 24 hours to support other veterans who need help 1:55

Two veterans hoping to raise awareness about the difficulties faced by many former military members in this country held a cold, wet vigil for 24 hours at the War Memorial in St. John's this past weekend. 

Mark Gauci and Don Hookey endured chilly temperatures and consistent rain in order to show support for other veterans, and bring attention to an organization called VETS Canada, a non-profit group formed to help veterans who struggle with the move from military service to civilian life.

Mark Gauci (right) and Don Hookey staged a weekend vigil at the National War Memorial in St. John's this past weekend, hoping to bring attention to the plight faced by many veterans in this country. (CBC)

Both men served lengthy careers with the Canadian Forces, and both served in Afghanistan during Canada's long military mission in that troubled country.

They said many military members face hardship once they leave the service, whether it be the loss of camaraderie, financial difficulties, substance abuse and the impacts of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

They encouraged those in need to make contact with VETS Canada through the group's website, http://vetscanada.org/.

They also invited veterans to get involved with the group.

"You know, despite having helped hundreds of veterans, there are still hundreds, possibly thousands more still on the streets of Canada either homeless and or in distress," said Gauci.

Hookey is coping with PTSD, but is thankful for the support he has received.

"I transitioned pretty hard back into civilian life. I'm still in the transitioning process. So I'm hoping my experience with this can possibly help somebody else," said Hookey.

Gauci said many vets aren't getting the help they need. 

He said the experience at the War Memorial was "not a pleasant one," but he hopes it draws attention to the fact that many veterans struggle to keep a roof over their heads.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.