Having an understanding ear can be important for someone suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Scott Polson, a serving member of the Canadian Forces and PTSD patient said he uses a three-pronged approach to help deal with the illness - his formal therapy with a doctor, peer-led group therapy and informal therapy through the Military Minds website.
"We have our trusted peers that we can open up and tell our problems to and we can talk back and forth and interact," Polson said. "We all have good days and well have our bad days and they're never in tune with each other. When we're having a high day, we're looking for that low guy we can help out because later on down the road you're going to be the low guy and they're going to be the high guy and it drags you right through."
Polson said having MilitaryMinds.ca and its associated Facebook page, a website created by Toronto solider Chris Dupee, is a great resource because it allows military PTSD suffers to communicate with each other on their own terms.
"It's grassroots and it's the troops helping the troops," Polson said. "It's guys that can relate, we can speak our own language with our acronyms."
Dupee said he's received feedback from soldiers all over the world who have been helped by having a forum to talk. He said more awareness about PTSD is needed among the rank-and-file so more soldiers will be willing to open up about the struggles they're dealing with
"Facing your fear head on and saying 'hey look at me' that in itself is a healing mechanism, and we've got hundreds of people who will attest to the same thing," he said.
Dupee said the Military Minds membership even helped an American solider contemplating suicide deal with his depression until help arrived. Dupee encouraged people to contact the man via Facebook and he believes the distraction of receiving a host of supportive messages distracted the man long enough for professionals to arrive.
Polson served many tours of duty around the world, including when he served in the morgue at the Canadian base in Afghanistan. Although he admits his job scarred him for life, he has no regrets about pursuing a career in the armed forces.
"I love the Canadian Forces and I love everything it stands for," Polson said. "But it's disheartening for myself that I know that I couldn't go back into that type of situation again just for the sure risk of digressing back to my old, dark days where I was struggling to keep my marriage together and control my anger and my crying."