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Medical Release from Service

Heroes Remember

Medical Release from Service

I didn’t just retire, I was medically released from the Canadian Forces because of an operational stress injury that stems from mostly to do with my first tour, but the subsequent tours, going through traumatic events, the fatigue, the grief and the moral injury of not being able to intervene in the ethnic cleansing. By the time I finished Kosovo in 1999, I ’d done four tours in seven and a half years and I was burnt. I was totally depleted and when I walked in the medical system for help it was discovered that I was dealing with post traumatic stress disorder. So I didn’t leave the military the way I wanted to. I wanted to stay in the military for 35 years, I only lasted 17 because I got injured. So integrating back into civilian society with a mental health issue, I mean a soldier becoming a civilian is tough enough. A soldier becoming a civilian with a mental health issue is extremely difficult and it’s taken me a long time to kind of, you know, come back to being a civilian again. But I say that and I don’t think I’ve ever really been a civilian, I mean once you’re a soldier, you’re always a soldier. Even as a Veteran, I still carry myself as a soldier. I still conduct myself as a soldier and I’m always tapped in to the soldier network and if there’s something Canadians are doing overseas militarily I’m always there. First one to read it in the morning in the news. So it’s kind of weird, I really don’t think of myself as a civilian. I think of myself as a Veteran. You know, I was a soldier, now I’m a Veteran. The last time Ross MacDonald was a civilian was when I was 19 years old. So for the first couple of years of my rotation out of the military and integration into civilian society as a Veteran it was very difficult, but now with so much awareness on mental health in the forces. There’s so much more resiliency training. There’s so much more talk about mental health that the stigma of the 80's and 90's is slowly dissipating away. You know, for me now it’s, you know I’ve come full circle to love my regiment again cause my regiment didn’t dump me. The system was what it was then and now they’ve learned from mistakes and what I’m able to do is reach out to serving members and Veterans that served in the time frame I did and as well as younger soldiers now just to educate them on taking care of this, taking care of your head. You know, as well as taking care of yourself physically. It’s really neat that now I’ve been able to go through all these, you know, pitfalls of suffering from operational stress injury and come out the other side stronger than ever but also, you know, the drive to make sure that everyone takes care of themselves, not just physically but mentally.

Mr. MacDonald relates his personal experiences of service resulting in a medical release from the forces. A choice he did not want to make.

Ross MacDonald

Mr. Ross MacDonald was born April 4, 1967 in Peterborough, Ontario. His parents immigrated from the United Kingdom to Canada in 1960. After graduating from high school, Ross tried the college life, but because of his interest in the outdoors and strong involvement in sports he decided to join the army. At age 20, he joined the Canadian Armed Forces in Petawawa, Ontario joining 3 Royal Canadian Regiment. As part of his training, Mr. MacDonald travelled and lived in Germany for two years. In 1992, Mr. MacDonald joined 3 RCR November Company Group on a tour to Sarajevo to provide humanitarian aid and supplies to the besieged city. Because of his service, Mr. MacDonald was awarded the Commander-in-Chief Commendation. Due to medical release, Mr. MacDonald left the military, but continued to work with the soldiers needing support under the OSSIS program, a government position he holds today.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Ross MacDonald
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Royal Canadian Regiment

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