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Soldier’s wife Vanessa MacWhirter wants families to know support is available

Vanessa MacWhirter delivers a powerful message about the importance of supporting veterans and their families during A Ceremony of Remembrance on Friday.
Vanessa MacWhirter delivers a powerful message about the importance of supporting veterans and their families during A Ceremony of Remembrance on Friday. - Dave Kearsey

Many of the young men and women dedicated to serving their country have been lost through the tragedies of war.

Some soldiers have come home, but have never been the same because of what they experienced.

However, Vanessa MacWhirter believes no matter how devastating war has become and how many lives have been lost, forgotten in the mix of the turmoil is the family members left behind in a time of uncertainty not knowing what their loved ones will endure at war or if they will come home.

If they do come home, there’s no guarantee they will be the same they were before they left.

MacWhirter, wife of Cpl. Jamie MacWhirter, a Canadian soldier who has authored a book on being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, was guest speaker for A Ceremomy of Remembrance held Friday at Grenfell Campus.

The mothers who worry for their children. The spouses who worry for their husbands or wives. The children who worry about their parents. The unborn who they have never met or may never meet.

Those left behind need a strong support system to keep it all together and MacWhirter knows families needs it, whether they realize it or not, and she knows first-hand because it hasn’t been an easy ride to forge ahead when things can get overwhelming with worry.

“Those who come back face the greatest suffering because you never know what changes will come with it,” MacWhirter said to a captivated audience.

She wants people to support the family at home. She says it can be a challenge trying to keep up with all the parenting, chores and schoolwork with the children when mom or dad is serving overseas.

She admits some people deal with PTSD with a sense of humour because it works, others battle through with a support system in place, but there are also those who couldn’t bear the brunt of the illness and ended up taking their own lives.

MacWhirter wants people to know she and her husband formed a support group called PTSD Buddies to help those who suffer in silence and to come forward to speak on their behalf to know they are not suffering alone.

She hopes more people will start realizing they don’t have to be alone because help is available for those who need it.

“There is support out there," she said. "You may need to look for it. It may need to take time. But there is support and you just need to find it."

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