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OSISS support group launched in South West Nova to help veterans

Todd Muise and Andre Boudreau invite veterans troubled by painful memories to meet with them and others in an informal coffee session held once a week.
Todd Muise and Andre Boudreau invite veterans troubled by painful memories to meet with them and others in an informal coffee session held once a week.

YARMOUTH - There’s a kinship among those who have experienced the horrors of war.

It often helps to chase away the deep-seated pain when veterans talk about it with each other.

Finding those people and encouraging them to share their stories and emotions in order to heal, is a goal that Todd Muise and Andre Boudreau have set out to achieve.

Muise, a former member of the Royal Canadian Regiment, approached the Wedgeport Legion to see if it offered anything to help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. He and Boudreau are both members of the legion.

He was directed to Tim Elliott and Tanya Rice, peer support coordinators in Greenwood with Operational Stress Injury Social Support (OSISS).

The network is a community-based organization coordinated by screened and trained peers. Every member brings firsthand experience and practical knowledge of what it is like to struggle with OSI. Coordinators have learned to cope with their injuries and want to help others.

The invisible wounds many veterans carry can disrupt sleep, cause mood swings, withdrawal, social isolation and loss of interest in routine activities. If left untreated, the symptoms can grow worse over time and begin impacting both work and the home environment.

Muise and Boudreau say when they attended a coffee session with the Greenwood coordinators and veterans with OSI, it really opened their eyes to the need.

“There were 20 people there,” said Muise. “Even if we help one person, it’s worth our efforts.”

Years ago, local legions would have served as support groups when veterans returned from a war.

“The younger veterans don’t see the legion as a place to go to,” said Boudreau. “What we’re trying to do is fill that gap for these people, so they can come to a support group and meet each other.”

Sadly, some of those affected by OSI deal with their suffering through excessive alcohol or drugs.

Muise says when coffee group sessions are held in the Yarmouth area, they’re not in a bar or the legion.

Not having “triggers” present helps to reduce anger and arguing, he says.

The coffee time is not viewed as a chance for people to get riled up, he adds.

“It’s for them to get help and change what they’re thinking. It’s about getting them out of that zone,” he said.

Encouraging veterans to participate in something that redirects their thoughts – exercise, fly-fishing, woodworking etc. – is also a goal.

Both men hope a friend or family member of someone suffering might read this article and encourage them to attend at least one coffee group meeting.

“The thing with military guys, whether you’ve served three years or 40 years, they have that bond, that connection,” said Muise.

More things to know

• Coffee sessions are held Monday evenings 6:30-8 p.m. Call or email contacts below for location.

• Todd Muise cell 902-746-3959 email

Andre Boudreau: cell 902-746-9170 email

Operational Stress Injury Social Support (OSISS) Website

Toll free # 1-800-883-6094

• People can also turn to Rally Point Retreat in Sable River. Although the retreat does not offer psychological counselling, it does offer a quiet, safe space to help people regroup, to reconnect with families and to prevent further collateral damage from traumatic events.

 

 

 

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