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Interviewer: Was it hard for you to adjust to civilian life when you returned from your tour of duty? Well, no, I didn't adjust to the civilian life when I came back from my tour of duty. I, I, I adjust back to my family life 'cause I was still serving for another ten years after that. It was very hard. It was very difficult. It transforms you in ways that I could not understand and even to this day that I still have to, I have to manage and Romeo Dallaire thanks to him has brought a lot of that forward, which is excellent, but it was very difficult. In all honesty, I can probably say it took me ten years to, to finally get things under control, and I have to say, in many circumstances or instances without the help of, of the military because they still had some difficulties understanding what was going on, so, it was difficult, and have to make it short, yes it was. Interviewer: And for your family, who you left behind to go and serve, and then return and sometimes we hear them say, "It's not the same man." That is exactly what happened to me and, and, and my wife really had to, to go through this very difficult situation and, and without her, it would have been very, very difficult for me to even come through this, so, yes, that's very, very true. We are not the same person, and I must say, that although the experience in Rwanda was very difficult, I came out of there a better man than, than when I went in, with a different view on a lot of things that, to me, are, are now more important and so it had a benefit, but it was a painful one. Interviewer: But you had the support when you returned home. I had the, my wife's support and my family's support and my father-in-law and my in-laws' support. There's no doubt I had their support, but they didn't know how to navigate in there, too, and, really, nobody could tell them. I think, and finally when I say ten years and you know, at Christmas 2004, we all got together, we get together every year, my family's fairly gets to be fairly large, about forty of us, by the time all the nephews and nieces are there, and I finally, my, my family, my sister finally looked at me and as they said, you know, this is the first time in ten years we've seen you happy and, so, that's a long time, and, and that's a long time for them too, to, to put up with me and my mood and, you know, sort of my unhappiness that is kind of just showing, even if you're trying not to. So, difficult moments for everyone and let's not undermine their effort to trying to cope with this. It's, it is not easy.

Mr. St. Denis describes how his peacekeeping experience in Rwanda changed him, greatly affecting his family life when he returned to Canada.

Jean Yves St. Denis

Mr. Jean Yves St. Denis grew up in Rodden, Quebec. He decided university wasn't for him, so he enlisted with the Canadian Army after graduating from high school in 1986. Mr. St. Denis had a very diverse 21 year career with the Canadian military, serving in Calgary, Germany, Ottawa, Rwanda, and Valcartier. While in Rwanda, Mr. St. Denis worked closely with General Dallaire, and witnessed many atrocities which affected him deeply for a long time after his return to Canada. With three overseas peacekeeping missions to his credit, Mr. St. Denis retired from the military in 2004, at which time he began working for Shell Canada.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Jean Yves St. Denis
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Royal Canadian Horse Artillery

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