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The Hero’s Call

Background

 

Badge of Life Canada / Insigne de vie Canada is a peer-led charitable volunteer organization committed to supporting police and corrections personnel who are dealing with psychological injuries diagnosed from Service.

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the course of a career, a first responder will be exposed to various levels of trauma exposure which can lead to diagnosis of Operational Stress Injuries (OSI), including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), along with co-morbid diagnosis, including, but not limited to depression, anxiety, anger, hyper-vigilance, guilt, shame, fear, as well as maladaptive behaviours, and suicide ideation.

Click for PTSD Definition and DSM-5 Criteria for PTSD

 

 

Suicide

Unfortunately, the number of suicides throughout the first responder community has continued to rise. We endeavor to make a difference so that additional personnel who are struggling do not become a statistic. We all can endeavour to #changeculture within ourselves and our respective organizations, while becoming #AgentsofChange.

Typically, members who receive a diagnosis are treated, with various clinical resources available within their geographical area, and often successfully are able to re-integrate back into their respective organizations.

 

 

Our Program will not endeavour to replace this type of clinical care for any attending participants – but rather augment such care with over 30+ plus hours delivered within a peer support environment.

Instead, male participants will be provided an opportunity to allow themselves to be themselves within a group of similarly injured male participants without having to justify their own “journey”.

 

Our belief, is regardless of what the cause was that a male member has received a professional diagnosis for their operational stress injury – we focus on moving…as per our #suicideprevention motto…

 

 

…”Forward Always…Always Forward”…

This motto reinforces a change in culture – which currently exists with many member(s) spending time continually looking into the rearview mirror of past trauma(s) but rather instead focuses upon moving forward towards positive growth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BOLC Weekend Workshop – #investinyourself 

 

“Are you ready to move forward?”

“Are you ready to answer the call?”

“If you are not prepared to invest in yourself…then who else will invest in you?”

 

 

Program

 

Badge of Life Canada / Insigne de vie Canada – Hero’s Call

A weekend or six day program for men-only first responders, entitled “The Hero’s Call”, developed for those dealing with operational stress injuries, including, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression and/or suicidal ideation as a result of diagnosis from their employment.

 

 

 

 

The Hero’s Call program operates in Lion’s Head, ON at a subsidized cost for the participant(s). Weekend program cost for participants in 2019 is subsidized at $325 (actual cost $1000) and six day program cost for participants is subsidized at $700 (actual cost $2500).

Each program we host attracts a cross-section of attendees from the first responder world, including police, corrections, paramedics, firefighters, CBSA, special constables, and communicators/dispatchers. Each program is open to active and retired personnel, as well as sworn and civilian members.

 

 

The focus of each program will be on peer support within a peer support structure, under the guidance of a licensed professional, as well as member(s) with lived experience, modeling positive post-traumatic growth, while involved with group activities practiced within a safe environment.

Most, if not all, participants are or have been under the care of a medical professional. Our Program will not replace this type of clinical care. Instead, we work hard to connect participants with other like minded participants so they don’t feel alone while experiencing that they are supported by the community they have dedicated serving throughout their careers.

 

 

 

It can be a challenge to know what brings meaning and purpose to us after a traumatic event. As a group, with no fear of judgement from others, we connect to our values and open up to our feelings and thoughts. This is an important step for those with anxiety and depression. Participants achieve a sense of possibility, play and contribution within the group.  As a group we will learn some activities that connect us to our values (quality of being and doing with self) and that can be continued after the program to develop presence in the moment and in life.  Participants learn that there is importance in creating things and doing things including doing for others as random acts of kindness. Through peer connection we can develop presence of self and figure out what we really want in life and how to connect with others.  We can find the joy of connecting with others and doing with and for others creating some desire in our lives.

 

 

 

As Program funding becomes available, our Hero’s Call Weekend Workshops will be delivered nationally, as well as both in English and French.

 

 

 

 

 

The weekend program will endeavour to compliment over 30+ hours and the six day program over 60+ hours within a peer support structured environment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Through peer connection we can develop presence of self and figure out what we really want in life and how to connect with others.  We can find the joy of connecting with others and doing with and for others creating some desire in our lives.

 

 

 

 

Badge of Life Canada / Insigne de vie Canada – Hero’s Call

BOLC The Hero’s Call program – #investinyourself 

“Are you ready to move forward?”

“Are you ready to answer the call?”

“If you are not prepared to invest in yourself…then who else will invest in you?”

 

Program Methodology 

Badge of Life Canada / Insigne de vie Canada (BOLC) delivers our Programs through a combination of information facilitated by a combination of mental health professionals, chaplains, and positive-lived experience individuals all set within a peer-support environment.

 

 

 

 

 

Resilience building, coping skills, and learning new normals transform participants journey during their stay.

 

 

 

 

 

1) We endeavour to create an emotionally and physically safe environment for all participants while exploring the affects of single and cumulative trauma events upon the mind, body, and spirit.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2) Using meditation, mindfulness and yoga, along with nourishing meals that members often have gone away from, we create a healthy environment that promotes further learning and healing activities.     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) Utilizing team activities that promote trust within the peer-support environment practiced in a safe environment that develops and enhances self-reflection, communication skills, and promotes healthy boundaries along with a transformation in purpose and a sense of belonging within a group of peers. (#FindYourTribe)

 

 

 

 

Pending weather some team activities that are undertaken include: equine assisted learning, low and high ropes courses, utilizing hiking trails along the picturesque scenes of the Niagara Escarpment along the shores of Georgian Bay and Lake Huron, as well as other activities, to name but a few.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4) Participants explore their personal experiences through peer group discussions and personal narratives regarding spiritual wounding and loss of personal identity revolving around various topics including, but not limited to moral injury, sanctuary trauma, perceived injustice along with perceived feelings of abandonment and administration betrayal by their individual organizations. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5)  Participants actively engage with Elders offering First Nations teachings and Metis story-telling, all conducted in a fire-side setting that transcends spiritual awakening and personal transformation within each person’s own spiritual comfort zone. The teachings end with a ceremonial cleansing of your spirit through ancient smudging practices within the peer-group setting.

 

 

 

 

Program Registration:

 

If you are a male first responder, either active or retired, sworn or civilian member, and believe that this particular Program would be of benefit to you please take a moment to complete the registration form found at the bottom of this page.

 

 

 

 

Our Program registration is on a first come / first served basis – so please register as soon as possible.

Your application will be pre-screened and you will be contacted by a member of Badge of Life Canada, along with a medical professional to access your placement into the Program.

 

 

We plan to host various such workshops throughout 2019. However, our organization’s ability to continue to operate is due in large part to the generous support of individual donors who believe in our mission.

Our charitable organization depends upon the added support of our friends in the business community who generously sponsor our events.

 

If you can consider donating to assist us in delivering these workshops – you will definitely be aiding many participants who would be otherwise unable to attend for various personal financial reasons.

How can I make a difference?

Do you know someone who has been touched by an operational stress injury as the result of their employment?

Would you consider donating to this ongoing retreat?

Sponsor a participant for $700.00 (food, lodging and activities included) and receive a charitable tax receipt – Badge of Life Canada BN # 784599698RR0001.

Although this is not the full costs required to facilitate our Programming, together we can make a difference to not only ensure that participants once again become healthy, productive members of their organizations. But they also re-learn how to become a productive member of their community with the ability to love their own families again versus continuing with their current isolation tendencies and other un-healthy coping strategies. (#FindYourTribe)

 

 

Together, we can make a difference to not only ensure that participants once again become healthy, productive members of their organizations. But they also re-learn how to become a productive member of their community with the ability to love their own families again versus continuing with their current isolation tendencies.

Please Note:

  1. No alcohol/non-prescriptions drugs/weapons are permitted during the weekend retreat – this is non-negotiable – any participant not able to comply will be removed from the Program.
  2. We endeavour to provide a safe environment where participants can share freely within a peer-led environment. Badge of Life Canada reserves the right to exclude any participant prior to commencement of the program and/or remove any individual(s) whose behaviour, comments and/or actions are deemed inappropriate to the safety, security and mental well-being of the participants.

Badge of Life Canada / Insigne de vie Canada – BOLC The Hero’s Call program – “Are you ready to answer the call?”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What therapists are saying…

“I was honoured to be part of the S.O.L.E. Sisters retreat. As a therapist, I was witness to seeing female first responders who suffer from operational stress injury come together and begin healing. This healing began as the group introduced themselves and experienced activities such as First Nations opening ceremonies which included smudging. Participants explored personal growth during the nature walk and interaction with the horses. They let go and expressed themselves during Zumba dance and African drumming. They shared their journey with everyone during the homemade meals and Rock Mandala painting.

As a therapist, my role was very limited to sharing stories and supporting the women through their journeys. The retreat itself was very well organized and thought out. Each experience built on the last activity. The homemade meals where a fantastic touch. Bonding and supporting during this time was inevitable. It was such an honour to be part of this wonderful weekend.”~Michele Brett, MSW, RSW, Central Ontario Psychology

What participants are saying…

“Too not belong anywhere, is a feeling I have had for 2 1/2 years. To feel like a burden on loved ones and to have no value in my life or my families was a lot to bear. Feeling alone and that no one understood me or the nightmares, flashbacks, triggers or severe depression only amplified my anger and mood swings. I was contacted out of the blue by Bill Rusk. He assured me I would be safe and would learn a lot from a weekend with himself, Lynne and other participants. He was right on point. To learn the steps of PTSD, the emotions that we all go through and how to control ourselves. Eating healthy, listening to passed participants about there experience. Maintaining fitness of the mind and body. The beauty of nature and all that the wold still has in store for us. We do have self worth. We are not a burden and we are loved.”~Philip Sheldon, participant 2018

“What this past week has provided me was a means, experience to help identify why I was still “on shift, on call”.  I never realized that even though not in uniform I was still behaving and living (if you can call it that) like I was ready to respond. With your guidance, mentorship, compassion and deep understanding of the walk- I was able to heal, grieve, face my fears and overcome.  At last, I can now truly go home and end my shift.  I am trembling with anticipation and joy.  I finally get to see and expereince my family again. It has been a long, exhausting painful wait. With deepest gratitude

and long lasting respect.” ~W.P. participant 2019

“I’ve been lucky to have lots of training, courses, retreats, rehabilitation etc. over my life, but this puts ODIS’s, PTSD etc. into one nice package.  The organizers and facilitators have an intimate knowledge of and a passion for what people who are going through and really want to help.  They are doing a great service to all.” ~ participant 2019

“Before I arrived I was scared and had very high anxiety.  After struggling with PTSD including previous alcohol addiction and suicide, I was sure recovery in any part would never really happen. Through the programming and people who travelled the week long journey has actually given me hop with goals moving forward.  More that I could have ever asked for.”  ~ Steve Smiley Ferlatte, participant 2019

“Badge of Life Canada was an amazing journey of self recognition with like minded people.  I thank my new friends for allowing me to be a part of the “Badge of Life family”.”~ T.C. participant 2019

“This program has exceeded my expectations in astronomical ways. It has fulfilled a huge void in my internal soul.  My anger has been replaced with happiness, my loneliness has been replaced with true friendship. I have had exceptional spiritual awakenings. I have felt a sense of belonging. The love, kindness and understanding I have felt can never be described in words. The facilitators in this program are my true Heros. And in all honesty I feel that I have been taken out of the extreme darkness at which point I had no desire to live life anymore to having hope and a purpose in life and for that I am extremely grateful.”~David Knoll, participant 2019

“I am a son, brother, husband, father and a police officer in the Niagara Region.  Although I usually type police officer first, I have learned that I am human, I am loved, and I have value within my community and outside of the confines of the First Responder world.

On July 5, 2015, I was involved in a workplace accident that left me hospitalized for many months and in the care of my wife for many years after.  Requiring many surgeries and learning how to walk again and use my hands, I thought my life was over.  I refused to give up and I soon realized that the physical wounds heal much quicker, than the mental scars that I developed.   Afraid of being judged, and of the stigma attached, I kept my feelings and thoughts to myself.  Thinking that they would go away on their own, I quickly became extremely angry at everyone and everything.  I was diagnosed with Complex PTSD.  Trying to push my family and friends away by lashing out at them all, I hated myself and thought the world was better off without me.

After about a year, I told my wife, Tanya, what was really going on in my head.  I knew should leave me as soon as I did, and I prepared for that.  What really happened was amazing and a life changer.  She listened to me.  We came up with a plan to get assistance, but we did not know where to turn.  Work wasn’t helping, my family thought it was made up and attention seeking, and no one talked about mental illness unless you wanted to be labelled crazy and sent to the hospital to live.

My wife found Badge of Life Canada.  At first, I refused to go as I was afraid of the unknown and scared of my own shadow.  I eventually came to terms that it was my last chance at life.  Although I never contemplated suicide, I now know why people do.  It is the feeling of being a burden to others.  To feel like you don’t belong, and everyone is out to hurt you.  To want to put a stop to the voices in your head and the never-ending thoughts that haunt you and don’t allow you to sleep or relax for even a minute.

My wife, Tanya drove me to Lions Head, Ontario to meet Bill and Lynne Rusk.  Petrified I agreed to stay for the weekend and try to retain anything they were willing to teach me.  After 3 days of intense class work and team building exercises, I for the first time, realized that everything I was going through and thinking was not unique to me.  That there are many others who struggle everyday with an abnormal life.  That I can be happy again and return to work one day.  That I am not a burden to anyone, and I hold tremendous value.

We all have different stories to tell and different accidents to get us where we were, but the cycle of mental illness is the same for all of us.  We are just at different stages of it.  Whether we go through quickly or we must pace ourselves and stumble along the way, it is all a great learning curve.

I was fortunate enough to have been invited back this year, for the weeklong course called The Hero’s Journey.  It was the best week of my life.  To know that you don’t have to schedule your days around your medications, to get back control of our lives, to laugh and share funny and sad stories with one another, to be vulnerable in front of strangers and know that you are not being judged, is something that money cannot buy.  Bill and Lynne and the mentors (Sheppard’s) do not hold back.  They join in and share their stories and become vulnerable along with you.  For this very reason, this program works better than any others.  No one sticks out and everyone learns the tools necessary to take back home with them and start to lead a great life once again.  Bill and Lynne do not try to fool you by saying they can heal PTSD or that they are some great faith healers.  They are real people, who just want to help.  They provide you with knowledge and insight for you to start your journey of healing.

For whoever is reading this, please take the time to consider this extremely beneficial in healing, or the start of, and money very well spent.  I have researched and attended other retreats for PTSD, since the first time at BOLC and they do not compare.  When you double that up with the fact, that BOLC is completely run by volunteers that truly care about your well being and not the profit margins, as there isn’t any, it is a win/win situation.

I am now back at school fulltime at Brock University, studying Psychology.  Bill and Lynne have inspired me to give back to the profession in a way, that I never thought was possible.

I have been advised by WSIB and NRPS that I will be going back to the Niagara Regional Police Service, working in the Wellness Unit, to ensure the safety and mental well being of all its members.  This is something that I was told would never be possible again.  I can say that I owe it all to them, buy their modesty would just say that I am doing it on my own, and they are just providing tools to guide me.  Another reason why I love them so much. Thank you”. ~PC Phil Sheldon S.C. – participant 2019

youtube.com/watch

 

 

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Make a Difference

Badge of Life Canada / Insigne de vie Canada – Hero’s Call

We plan to host various such workshops throughout 2018. However, our organization’s ability to continue to operate is due in large part to the generous support of individual donors who believe in our mission.

Our charitable organization depends upon the added support of our friends in the business community who generously sponsor our events.

If you can consider donating to assist us in delivering these workshops – you will definitely be aiding many participants who would be otherwise unable to attend for various personal financial reasons.

 

 

 

 

How can I make a difference?

Do you know someone who has been touched by an operational stress injury as the result of their employment?

 

 

 

 

Would you consider donating to this ongoing retreat?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sponsor a participant for $750.00 (food, lodging and activities included) and receive a charitable tax receipt – Badge of Life Canada BN # 784599698RR0001.

 

 

 

 

Although this is not the full costs required to facilitate our Programming, together we can make a difference to not only ensure that participants once again become healthy, productive members of their organizations. But they also re-learn how to become a productive member of their community with the ability to love their own families again versus continuing with their current isolation tendencies and other un-healthy coping strategies. (#FindYourTribe)

 

 

 

Please Note:

  1. No alcohol/non-prescriptions drugs/weapons are permitted during the weekend retreat – this is non-negotiable – any participant not able to comply will be removed from the Program.
  2. We endeavour to provide a safe environment where participants can share freely within a peer-led environment. Badge of Life Canada reserves the right to exclude any participant prior to commencement of the program and/or remove any individual(s) whose behaviour, comments and/or actions are deemed inappropriate to the safety, security and mental well-being of the participants.

 

For more information or to apply for this program

  • The Hero's Call

    Each men’s program is called – The Hero's Call. Regardless of how a male member has received a diagnosis for their operational stress injury – we focus on moving …”Forward Always…Always Forward”… This program has attracted a cross-section of attendees from the first responder world, including police, corrections, fire, border services, paramedics and dispatchers. The focus of each program will be on group peer support under the guidance of a licensed professionals (may be male or female), as well as positive post-traumatic growth while involved with group activities practiced within a safe environment. We don’t discuss our traumas but focus upon moving forward towards positive growth. Bill and Lynne Rusk work hard to connect with people so they don’t feel alone and we want participants to know they are supported by the community they have dedicated serving throughout their careers. Accommodations will be provided by Badge of Life Canada (B.O.L.C.), for up to 10 men with shared bedrooms and washroom accommodations.
  • Please note: this weekend event is alcohol free and non-prescription drug free to honour those in recovery.
  • General Health

  • Program Goals

  • A minimum of 7 participants is required to run our programs. Once there is enough participants BOLC will contact the registrants and provide the date. Your $100 committal fee is required at that time. The balance due is required one month in advance of program date.
  • Are you requesting financial assistance from your insurance carrier/WSIB/association to attend the program? If so, please email lynne@badgeoflifecanada.org with whom you wish the letter to be addressed to. It will be emailed to you to forward to your insurance carrier/WSIB/association.
  • We need to ensure that you are in the right place in your healing journey to attend our program. While you don't need to have a diagnosis, you do need to be dealing with operational stress injury symptoms which may include; anxiety, depression, ptsd etc. We do not talk about our traumas on the job nor do we deal with those in crisis or addictions. This is "peer group led work" with a therapist, chaplain and trained peer support volunteers. Please have your therapist email lynne@badgeoflifecanada.org with a letter of support stating that you would benefit from this program and that you have their support to process upon completion of the week/weekend program.
    Programs include activities, accommodations and meals. If you do not attend your deposit will be kept as an administration fee and you will receive a charitable tax receipt for same. Your fee is not required until you accept a date.
  • Please note: programs are alcohol free and non-prescription drug free to honour those in recovery. No weapons are allowed. These programs provide peer facilitation only not therapy. Facilitators may be male and female. Participants are encouraged not to talk about their trauma employment experiences but to engage in self-care nurturing their minds, bodies and souls in a survivors of lived experience peer setting. Please Note: No alcohol/non-prescriptions drugs/weapons are permitted during the program - this is non-negotiable - any participant not able to comply will be removed from the Program. We endeavour to provide a safe environment where participants can share freely within a peer-led environment. Badge of Life Canada reserves the right to exclude any participant prior to commencement of the program and/or remove any individual(s) whose behaviour, comments and/or actions are deemed inappropriate to the safety, security and mental well-being of the participants.