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Sergeant (Retired) Christopher Banks MCing an award ceremony at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 15 in Brampton, Ontario in 2021.

A Lifelong Journey

The Veteran, with almost two decades in the Canadian Army, felt this hypervigilance when he returned from Afghanistan to Brampton, Ontario.

Coming home was a culture shock. I was always on guard. I was exhausted but couldn’t sleep, I knew something was wrong,” he explained.

With his Lorne Scots Regiment he saw combat in Afghanistan and had “lots of close calls with IEDS.”

“My combat stories are not PG.”

He feels strongly that knowledge is power when it comes to getting support.

He deployed to Bosnia in 2003 with the Royal Canadian Dragoon (which was the same regiment his grandfather, the late Arthur Goodeve, deployed to Korea with in 1950) then Afghanistan in 2008, and found the second the “polar opposite” experience when it came to awareness of psychological impacts of war. “We had weeks and weeks of mental health training and were given tools to deal with trauma,” he said.

“I made light of it after Bosnia but after Afghanistan I knew something was wrong.”
“In 2018 it got really bad, I hit rock bottom and was suicidal. I knew I couldn’t keep it together anymore and that my military career was ending.”

Sergeant (Retired) Christopher Banks at Camp Maple Leaf in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2004.

It took several years for him to get a diagnosis of PTSD; after which he was admitted to the Homewood Clinic in Mississauga (an outpatient mental health treatment clinic ) for three months in 2019.

Getting access to benefits and services can be slower than Veterans would like, he explained, adding one of the most helpful pieces of advice he received was to sign up for VAC programs and services before releasing.

Banks, who was nominated for a Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation for his advocacy for Veterans and their well-being, wants to make sure he helps other Veterans understand that trauma is inevitable and support is available. He wants to make the process to get help easier to navigate.

He was first connected with Canadian Armed Forces psychiatrists by the Toronto Medical Inspection Room before his diagnosis and release. Once released, Veterans Affairs Canada arranged for him to continue with the same psychiatrist, uninterrupted.

Veterans Affairs Canada provided him with a primary psychologist and covered marriage counselling for he and his wife through the disability benefit program. This resulted in a lot of communication to help him get healthy and save their marriage.

“Prior to my release I applied for Veterans’ Independence Program and was approved once my release date passed. I'm currently receiving Income Replacement Benefit and disability benefits,” he explained.

In December 2019, Banks was instrumental in saving the life of a Veteran in crisis when he spotted a Reddit comment about suicide. Using key details from the man’s post, he was able to find his father and alert the police who were able to intervene and get him to hospital.

Sergeant (Retired) Christopher Banks on the big screen at the Air Canada Centre in 2009 when he was selected as one of Luke's Troops.

“It’s our job to support and advocate for one another,” he said.
“I didn’t have the easiest time. It was a very rocky road. I want to make sure others don’t have to go through that.”

Banks is an active member of the Legion, he has held several positions including Poppy Chair. He has successfully led Poppy Campaigns that have raised over $180,000 and has run a food packaging and distribution project for the City of Brampton that has prepared over 45,000 meals for a food bank that operated for three months during the first Covid-19 lock-down.

The self-described “sci-fi geek” is looking at a career change in the areas of policy, administration or vocational rehabilitation.

“My goal is to help people, I find purpose in that. Recovering is a lifelong journey.”

If you or someone you know is struggling, please know you’re not alone. Please learn about the mental health supports available to you, including our Mental Health Benefits – a new initiative that provides immediate coverage to Veterans for treatment of certain mental health conditions, such as anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, and trauma-and-stressor-related disorders.


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