PEI

Veterans' support groups on P.E.I. see spike in calls

The tragedy in Nova Scotia has caused a spike in calls to veteran-support groups on PEI and has added a new sense of urgency for Island veterans seeking help for PTSD.

The tragedy in Nova Scotia has shaken Island veterans, including those with PTSD

Dennis MacKenzie embraces a fellow veteran who dropped in to a support centre Friday in Charlottetown. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

The tragedy in Nova Scotia has caused a spike in calls to veteran support groups on P.E.I. and has added a new sense of urgency for Island veterans seeking help for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

"We are busy these days. A lot of people are shaken up," said Dennis MacKenzie, the volunteer in charge of one Charlottetown support group.

"This should never happen. We have programs that are in place and will work if people get the proper help when they need it," said MacKenzie.

MacKenzie and one veteran exchanged hugs in the Charlottetown office of Marijuana for Trauma. It is a non-profit group that, among other programs, helps veterans obtain prescriptions for medical marijuana.

Other veteran support groups on P.E.I., including government-run programs are busy, too, say organizers.

24-hour help lines and peer support groups are available. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

According to one estimate, over half of all military veterans living on PEI, are receiving some sort of counselling or support.

MacKenzie is an Afghanistan veteran. He says there's still a stigma around PTSD.

"I didn't speak about my PTSD until after I was released from the military," said MacKenzie. "It's such a stigma, you don't want people to know. So it's about breaking that stigma and saying yes, I need help."

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