Not all injuries are visible, and a group of motorcycle riders are travelling across the country to raise awareness of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in veterans, in the hopes of helping people who are still recovering from their service.
This is the fourth year of the motorcycle tour. Scott Casey, president of Military Minds and founder of the Rolling Barrage said that the name is inspired by the “rolling barrage” employed at Vimy Ridge, a creeping barrage that of fire that stayed in front of infantry so they could attack Vimy Ridge and secure it.
“I just thought, that’s the perfect name for the ride.”
The idea came in 2016, and Casey jokes that there was some initial skepticism.
“I told my wife that I was going to start up a cross-Canada motorcycle rally and she, you know, politely said ‘that’s nice dear.’ 2017 was our first year, it was Canada’s 150th birthday, it was the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge.”
PTSD was only designated in 1982 by the American Medical Association, but it has been a known condition for years, without being understood. Helping people understand what PTSD is a goal of the Rolling Barrage, because Casey said that having people understand it as an injury that needs treatment is what needs to change.
“What doesn’t change is the symptoms, everything is the same as it was back in the day. You know the biggest thing that is hard to deal with is a stigma that surrounds it, it’s just like any other wound, you just can’t see it. The treatment needs to be destigmatized, and people need to learn to deal with the fact that PTSD is a real injury.”
This year’s tour is more complicated as usual, especially with gathering restrictions and sanitation requirements in different provinces. In Yorkton, there gathering at Western Financial Group City Centre Park was socially distanced and had a mandatory hand sanitizer station for the Rolling Barrage itself, and was not publicized beforehand.
While COVID-19 has made doing a cross-Canada trip more difficult, Casey said that it also made it more important, because mental health issues can get worse when people are isolated and unable to access all of the necessary resources.
“It doesn’t go away. Because of COVID, and the fact that people are being confined, mental health issues go through the roof even further because of that.”
Also at the event was a presentation by Marcie Erick on behalf of Quilts of Valor Canada to Kyle Appel. The organization gives quilts to ill or injured veterans who have served their country. This quilt, made by Erick, is the 95th she has presented over three years. Quilts of Valor, as an organization, has presented just under 15,000 quilts across Canada.
“I absolutely love what I do. There are no words to describe it, I love what I do. It means a lot to me to be able to do it. I have the utmost respect for veterans and everything that they’ve done for us.”
For Appel, he’s glad to meet people who appreciate Canada’s armed forces and everything they do, whether in the service or after.
“It’s nice to see that there’s people out there that recognize what we do and appreciate it as much they do. Sometimes, especially being out of the service now, you just kind of fade away and you’re not really a soldier anymore, you’re kind of a lost soul floating around.”
Casey said that Yorkton is already on the route for 2021, and they hope that the next tour will have regular conditions.