Major Hugo Dallaire, Chief Instructor at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School, visited the residents at the Portage substance abuse rehabilitation centres in Prévost and in Beaconsfield to speak with them about his experience as a soldier in Afghanistan in 2009. Major Dallaire gave a presentation about military life, about questions that can come up when facing decisions that have a major impact on people’s lives and the lives of their loved ones, and about the implications faced by some soldiers when returning back to their homes. He also presented a few short videos that were shot in Afghanistan during foot patrols, which helped the residents better understand the mindset of soldiers during military operations.
The residents appreciated hearing about the major’s personal experience and journey of nearly twenty years in the Canadian Forces. They were able to identify some similarities in their journeys and the impact that their choices and their addiction have had on their loved ones. As is the case for soldiers who are deployed, families experience worry and a feeling of helplessness when a family member leaves for treatment, and then must work on encouragement and support when they return home. Deployment to Afghanistan and rehabilitation at Portage: the same fight? Certainly not! However, common lessons can certainly be learned from each experience.