A line of veterans from World War 2, the Korean War, the Gulf War, Afghanistan and peace keeping missions passed a torch to police officers, an RCMP officer, a firefighter and a paramedic to open the Run to Remember on Thursday outside Government House in Regina.
They represent the heroes from all walks of life who have seen things most people can’t imagine and who will be recognized during the Run to Remember for the next three weeks across the province.
Blake Emmons founded the Wounded Warriors Weekend back in 2012 mainly for military veterans, but this year he wants to raise awareness for all people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with a torch relay to visit many different towns across Saskatchewan.
“Our wounded warriors are not always just soldiers or military veterans, they’re firefighters, they’re first responders, they’re RCMP, police, people who work in prisons – correctional officers, people even like a tow truck driver that have had traumatic experiences,” Emmons explained. “Most of them have made service to our country – they do it daily – but we don’t hear of the things that they see.”
Images on television news or online often come with a warning that they may be disturbing, but Emmons points out that it’s not an option to avoid seeing those images when it’s part of your job.
“They don’t show the pictures that would really bother you, the pictures that our people see and it’s a traumatic experience and maybe it doesn’t affect them right off but they carry it in their head and their heart,” he said.
Emmons is a veteran himself, he served in the Air Force in Laos during the Vietnam War. He started the Wounded Warriors Weekend after reflecting that we do such a good job of recognizing people who paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives on Remembrance Day, but we don’t always know who else made more hidden sacrifices.
“Unless they’re physically wounded, nobody knows that there’s a wound in there, mental from what they’ve seen,” he said.
The casual weekend of fishing and entertainment each July in Saskatchewan is a way to connect people with shared experiences and help them heal.
The Run to Remember is a way to reach out to more people in different communities and to raise awareness about PTSD.
Battle Scars TV will also be following the Run to Remember to communities across the province to document the stories of anyone living with PTSD.
You can find more information about the run and the schedule including how to get involved with the Wounded Warriors Weekend online at woundedwarriorsweekend.org.