ANAVETS Shoulder to Shoulder

May 2019

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HELPING OUR PEERS BY PROVIDING EMPATHY (HOPE) By Laurie Watt L iz Quinn carries on the work of her son, Sgt. Mark Salesse, a Canadian Forces search and rescue technician. Along with his brethren from 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron in Winnipeg, MB he trained relentlessly so he would be well prepared for the rescue missions that could include climbing ice-walls and mountains, diving deep into the oceans or descending into canyons to rescue others. Salesse, 44, was killed in an avalanche on Feb. 5, 2015, while training in the Rockies. Quinn hoped that he would have survived. His body, however, was recovered almost a week later under four metres of snow. "Mark was swept down the canyon. His partner escaped with his life," said Quinn, as she shared the story of her son, a paramedic who joined the Canadian Armed Forces at age 18 and who went on to serve in both the Armed Forces and the Royal Canadian Air Force. "For that week, it was the worst possible nightmare anybody could ever experience, because you hope against all chances that he was alive, that he could breathe in a little bubble (of air) while the rescue people get to him." Salesse was hoping to get married and Quinn had dreams of becoming a grandmother. An outdoorsman who loved mountaineering, rock climbing, ice climbing, hang-gliding and scuba diving, Salesse had another mountain-climbing adventure planned for November, 2015. While serving Canada and NATO, Salesse had cheated death on two back-to-back tours in the Medak Pocket Operation in Croatia in 1992 and 1993. He saw some of his comrades suffer intensely, and some fatally, from PTSD. Still, he kept serving. While honing his life-saving skills in Banff National Park, he fell 900 feet and was buried under layers of snow and ice. His death was a crushing blow for Quinn, who had also lost an infant daughter. A week after Salesse's body was recovered, Quinn's brother died unexpectedly. "We held a double funeral. It was surreal. I was walking in a nightmare," Quinn recalled. "I felt like I was dropped in a swirling ocean." It was an officer assigned by the Canadian Forces to assist the family after the death who suggested the grieving mother could reach out to a peer-support program through which she'd be linked up with another mother who had lost a son. She did. Established in 2006, the Helping Our Peers by Providing Empathy (HOPE) Program links peers who have suffered a similar loss – mothers with mothers, spouses with spouses and siblings with siblings. 10 SHOULDER TO SHOULDER SUPPORTING FAMILIES THROUGH GRIEF HOPE assists families of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) who have lost a loved one, currently or formerly serving. HOPE provides grief and mental health educa- tion and peer support. It is a complimentary service and is not intended to replace other traditional bereavement services. Trained volunteers, who have experienced a similar loss, provide peer support and act as positive role models to help other families through their grief and recovery journey. Peers can offer a unique perspective, share experience and provide hope. HOPE's mission is to provide and improve upon social support networks for CAF families who have suffered the loss of a loved one through pairing with a peer. This goal of this support is to facilitate the grief process. ROLE Specially trained volunteers understand the grief journey as they have been through a similar experience. They compassionately support the family and help them normalize their pain by providing comfort and coping strategies. HOPE helps peers adapt with: • Emotional support • Information support • Increased social network • Coaching and education • Sharing points of view • Exploring new possibilities • Personal feedback • Practical help • Finding hope PROCESS The HOPE program manager ensures that self- care mechanisms are in place for all volunteers. • All volunteers are subject to individual coaching and debriefing • The program schedules a monthly group teleconference on self-care and professional development • Annual training conference and get-together Pairing clients with the HOPE Peer Support Volunteers (PSV) is decided based on profile (age, gender, language, experience) rather than location. The active case load of each volunteer is also taken into consideration by the program manager when assigning peers.

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