Gaetan Caron knows what it’s like to struggle with a return to civilian life. Caron was injured while he was in the military and says he went through a deep depression, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

It was this experience that led him to where he is today, accepting the Minister of Veteran Affairs Commendation, along with eight others, for outstanding service to veterans and his dedication to remembrance. The commendation was awarded by the Veteran Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAuley.

The commendation “is given to people to make sure the memory of our veterans’ courage, achievements and sacrifice lives on,” says MacAuley.

They were awarded to:

  • Alain Boivert, CD - Shawinigan
  • Lieutenant-Colonel (Retired) Gilles Brais, OMM, CD - Ste-Sophie
  • William Allan Bray - Pointe-Claire
  • Major (Retired) Paulette Brousseau, CD - Petite-Vallee
  • Robert Cantin, CD - Quebec City
  • Gaetan Caron - St-Bruno-de-Montarville
  • Claude Cusson, CD - Quebec City
  • Captain (Retired) Jean Claude Duclos - Montreal
  • Lieutenant-Colonel (Honourary) Yves Desjardons-Siciliano - Montreal

Caron says he doesn’t want any military member to go through the same struggles as he did without the help they deserve and need.

Caron, now a peer support coordinator with OSISS (Operational Stress Injury Social Support), says many in the military aren’t aware of the help that is available following their time in the service. This includes support groups, conferences and psychological and physical therapy.

“It’s very important to help those guys because they are my family. I’ll always be military,” Caron says.

Capt. Jean Claude Duclos was also awarded the commendation. Duclos is retired from the Air Force and also worked with search and rescue from Halifax to Toronto. He says volunteering and helping soldiers with PTSD is important and fulfilling work.

“The best feeling you can have is to work as a volunteer with people. That’s the best life... to give. And when you give you receive more,” Duclos says.

Duclos, a legion service officer with Legion 215, adds that many soldiers are not open to trusting those who have not lived some of the similar experiences in soldiers’ lives.

“We’re always ready to do something. We’ve seen horrible things just like they had to see or live,” he says.

“Let’s say in Iraq or Afghanistan... they’ve lived so many things that no one can believe, but we believe them because we lived them almost the same.”

Duclos says it’s nice to be appreciated but that it’s not why he does the work. Caron agrees. They both say that this recognition will help inform veterans of the services available to help them with life after the military.

“It’s nice to be appreciated because a lot of times we do this work in the dark. To get this recognition will only help to increase the profile of the work we do and allow more veterans to be aware of our services,” Caron says.