Local veteran speaks out about personal cost of war
Published Sunday, November 10, 2019 5:55PM EST Last Updated Sunday, November 10, 2019 6:52PM EST
WATERLOO -- A local veteran is speaking up to remind people about the personal cost of war.
Matt Austin says it's hidden stories that contribute to the PTSD that veterans and members of the Canadian Armed Forces experience.
He adds that beyond remembering, it's important to think about how people can help.
Austin served two tours in Afghanistan from 2006 to 2007 and 2008 to 2009.
"Things do change and you realize the veil is off and you're no longer invincible. You're no longer the most important thing that's out there," he says.
When Austin returned to Canada the first time, he found himself alone and separated from those he fought and trained with for over a year.
Veterans Affairs Canada breaks post-traumatic stress disorder into four symptoms:
- Re-experiencing or re-living the trauma
- Persistence avoidance
- Negative thoughts and moods
- Being more on edge and reactive
"It obviously highlights the fact that operational stress injuries are real," said Wounded Warriors Canada executive director Scott Maxwell.
According to Veterans Affairs Canada, men are at the highest risk of suicide four years after release. Women are the highest risk 20 years after release.
Austin has used his own business to help veterans transition back to civilian life.
On Sunday, the provincial government announced a pilot project called Elevate-Plus Military to help with that issue. It is pledging near $835,000 over two years.
The project aims to create over 50 training opportunities for careers in the IT and financial sectors.