By Captain Bonnie Wilken, 3rd Canadian Division Public Affairs
It’s a common narrative in Army circles. Soldiers get injured, “gut through it” out of pride, loyalty, or fear of career implications. Their neglected injuries get worse, and ultimately cost those soldiers deployment opportunities, their careers, and even their long-term health. This is the reality faced by some of our members despite a multitude of health-oriented programs that can seem overwhelming and confusing.
That way of thinking is being challenged by 3rd Canadian Division (3 Cdn Div)’s wellness working group, conducted in Edmonton from February 7 to 9, 2018. Uniformed and civilian members were brought together to consider the tools our soldiers need to become elite warriors who not only survive but thrive in operations. One of the concepts that was examined was how to modify the familiar Army concept of “service before self,” into an understanding of how putting individual self-care first leads to better, more effective military service. A “well” soldier is a stable, balanced fighter who will be more effective in all aspects of his or her life.
The broad base of knowledge brought by participating health care professionals, academics, military leaders, Canadian Rangers, and civilian representatives was generated to best reflect and capture the full spectrum of wellness – physical, psychological, emotional, social, familial, spiritual and intellectual.
“To use a hockey analogy, this is about looking after our bench by bringing in some enforcers,” said Brigadier-General Trevor Cadieu, Commander of 3 Cdn Div. “If we expect our troops to fight for this country while their families make sacrifices on the home front, we are going to mobilize all available resources to better look after them.”
The team that shares this hockey bench are the Regular Force, Reserve Force, Canadian Rangers, and Civilian staff – the 3 Cdn Div One Team. Previous wellness initiatives have not always addressed the different levels of access to resources that challenge members working outside a base construct. The 3 Cdn Div wellness working group is looking to link-in all members of the One Team to bridge gaps and increase overall awareness and effectiveness of Canadian Armed Forces wellness initiatives.
After refining the concepts considered by the working group, soldiers and leaders from all 3 Cdn Div units will gather in Edmonton for wellness training from March 16 to 18, 2018. This forum will be used to stress-test a draft Division wellness campaign, to inspire leaders with the help of a broad array of experts, provide them with practical tools that can be used to enhance the fitness and wellness of our members and introduce emerging concepts such as post traumatic growth.