The Tour of Honour rolled into Hope with its representatives to greet dignitaries, distinguished men and women in uniform including RCMP, first responders, volunteer firefighters and members from the Legion last Thursday, during its campaign to bring awareness about emergency service personnel and military members dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD,) and other mental health injuries.
‘We expect a lot of our first responders. Ambulance drivers, for example, can look forward to attending accidents and health crises for their entire careers. They take a lot of memories home with them, so I think it’s very fitting to have a place of respite, of healing for them and their families. Honour House is specially equipped for that,’ said Chilliwack-Hope MLA Laurie Throness.
On a mission to reach 38 communities across B.C. The Tour of Honour motorhome is determined to spread the message about Honour House. Honour House is a heritage home that houses emergency responders and military personnel undergoing medical treatment in Vancouver.
“It’s been wonderful on this tour,” said New Westminster Fire Chief Tim Armstrong, a director of the Honour House Society. “Hope has really welcomed us.”
First responders are at greater risk of suffering PTSD and other mental health disorders, associated with the type of work they do. Honour House offers free accommodations for uniformed personnel and their families who have to leave home to seek medical care.
“It’s something that is becoming more recognizable, and more people are coming forward with it,” said Hope Fire Chief Tom DeSorcy. “It’s good that people have a place they can go, so they don’t have to worry about accommodations during an already stressful situation.”
First responders deal with a high level of stress every day, leaving them vulnerable to the experience of post trauma, which can be detrimental to the everyday functioning of their lives. According to Branch No. 228 Legion member Ian Williams, PTSD, is not something that can be easily discarded, or shaken off, it takes time and treatment to properly address.
“You can’t just man up — I think people are realizing that mental health injuries are very real and very debilitating,” he said.
Honour House currently has ten bedrooms with an eleventh one on the way. Craig Longstaff manages the house with the motto: “Sometimes even heroes need a home,” and he prescribes to that message.
“Honour House was created with the idea to make a safe environment for people who do so much for the rest of us.”