Our Chatham-Leamington Respect Forum was held at Royal Canadian Legion Branch 642 in the Chatham. This was the first time that we have broken the Chatham to Windsor region into two forums. It was a roaring success. We were pleased to have 30 participants from Police Service, Police Associations, and Peer Support groups, clinical psychologists and social workers, City Employment Services, Military, Fire and Rescue, City Family and Children Services, Groups that work on assisting people with homelessness, CMHA, United Way, Military Unit Associations, Nurses from Erie Shores Health, Legion Service Officers, and Chaplains. We had Councillor Karen Kirkwood-Whyte from the City of Chatham greet us and compliment the gathering of many organizations in the process of networking to increase the support we give First Responders and their families who suffer from operational stress injuries. She thoroughly reviewed the Respect Canada website and she praised the work of Respect Canada and Respect Forum for this national initiative. Councillor Karen was a former CEO of the United Way in the Chatham-Kent region. We were also pleased to have Councillor Trevor Jones from Leamington attend, who is a former OPP Officer and served with 31 Svc Bn.
We were pleased to have three outstanding presentations from the Chatham-Kent Police Services. Inspector Mike Pearce is the senior officer in charge of Health and Wellness and explained how they have made huge positive changes in their program. They set up committees, check rank at the door, and find best practices to support their personnel. They fully support both uniform and civilian members of their Police services. They work closely with local psychologists and social workers, two of whom attended this meeting, to ensure that there is good education, positive intervention, counselling and time to heal, and then gradual back to work programs. Reverends Tim Joyce and Paul McPhail are two of the six Chatham-Kent Police service Chaplains. They explained their duties in assiting with significant incidents, the intergration into the Peer Support network, their valuable assistance with counselling and supporting families, and their ride-along programs to build trust with the Police Officers. Then S/Sgt Gabe Tetrault spoke about the Peer Support program that he is responsible for in their Police Services. He talked about the importance of the buddy system, get together for coffee to discuss issues, and ensuring that everyone knows there is no adverse affects of needing and getting help. Everyone was thrilled with these presentaitons and many agencies asked numerous questions.
Morris Brause provided a briefing on the history and importance of the Respect Forums in Canada since 2016. He also talked about the importance of the only national mapping chart of those who provide support across Cities, municipalities, regions, provinces and national called the RESPECTMap and the need for all our agencies to put their information on this mapping service. He took time with WO Jeff Morrison to talk about the education program from recruit training to leadership training with respect to the importance of understanding operational stress injuries and how to help and support your soldiers. He spoke about the need for Chaplains and Social workers to be involved. He praised the great work of the VAC. He emphasized the importance of military Associations, where often, people finally admit that they are suffering from PTSD and are looking for support and guidance.
In the end we broke into four groups and discussed what we were getting from our forums, what we would like to see, and also what organizations still need to come to our meetings. From there, Morris Brause will take that information and recruit more organizations and plan the preseentations for the October Forum.
– Article from Morris Brause