By Jordan Haworth, FSWEP Student with the Guard –
August 17, 2018 was Fly the (Invictus) Flag Day; a designated day for countries participating in the 2018 Invictus Games to fly over-sized Invictus Games flags near well-known national sites to raise awareness for the Games. Accordingly, the Invictus Games’ flag was flown that morning on Parliament Hill.
This fall, 550 athletes from 18 nations, including Canada, will compete in 11 sports such as sitting volleyball, indoor rowing, track and field, and wheelchair rugby.
The Invictus Games, created by Prince Harry and first held in 2014, is an adaptive-sports competition for military members who were injured during their time in the military. The Games were created with hopes of helping members and veterans recover from their injuries, while promoting esprit de corps and physical fitness.
Despite being injured, many members did not want to come forward with complaints due to the stigma surrounding injury: “I was absolutely apprehensive; I think I was shaking like a leaf for days before I could tell the Chain of Command. It’s not that they wouldn’t accept [the injury], it’s just that I didn’t want to admit that I had a problem,” said Ottawa’s Lieutenant-Colonel Rhonda Crew, who is Team Canada’s Co-captain for the upcoming Games and an active member in the CAF.
The games have allowed members to be more open about their injuries:
“I am always strong, and coming forward I found was almost admitting a weakness, but I’ve learned in these games and in training that it’s actually not. Coming forward is a stronger thing to do than hiding your illness” said LCol Crew.
Although physical injuries are often apparent, they are not the only ailment to affect members. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has gained prominence in the past few years for its common occurrence among those who have served. Mental illness, such as PTSD, can cause feelings of isolation:
“Quite frankly, I suffer from PTSD, and one of the issues that I battle with on a daily basis is that feeling of being alone, and kind of self-isolating myself as a result of my injuries,” said Major Robert Hicks (retired), the other Co-captain for Team Canada and retired member from Kingston, Ontario.
The Games and its related training and camaraderie seem to help overcome these feelings of isolation: “Being a part of Team Canada has forced me to press my comfort zone blocks, and to press out beyond what’s comfortable for me each and every day, and that’s a really good thing. It’s a really good thing for my physical injuries and it’s an excellent thing for battling my mental health injuries,” said Maj Hicks.
40 athletes, including 22 veterans and 18 service CAF members are set to represent Canada at this year’s Games and will participate in all 11 sports. Six participants are from the National Capital Region.
The Honourable Karen McCrimmon, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, and Member of Parliament for Kanata-Carleton, in speaking about the games remarked on their positive effect on the wellbeing of CAF members. McCrimmon, a retired CAF member herself, will be representing the Government of Canada at the upcoming Games.
The 2018 Invictus Games will take place in Sydney, Australia from October 20-27, 2018.
Photo: Courtesy of Team Canada Invictus
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