VANCOUVER, B.C. — Veteran Steve Hartwig remembers one Remembrance Day, after returning from the former Yugoslavia, where he was stationed as a peacekeeper in 1993. He was trailing the regiment with other soldiers, when a van backfired and made a loud noise. Half of the soldiers threw themselves to the ground, in their dress uniforms. As he picked himself up, he looked around at his colleagues and felt their connection.
“You stand back in formation and you go…that’s what soldiers do. That’s what people do. They get themselves up and they walk,” he told Global News.
And now, the former paratrooper is continuing to get himself up and walk, despite suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He’s planning to start a trek across the country, in hopes of raising awareness about PTSD.
The 44-year-old father of four has battled with depression, anger and even suicidal feelings since returning.
“I would come home to anger and depression and fear and guilt,” he said. As the years progressed, he said he didn’t want to deal with people.
“For me, it’s always been referred to a steel box and I just crammed it in there and I closed that lid as tight as possible. Over the years it comes out and a lot of times in a nasty way.”
With veterans fighting for funding from the Federal Government for more mental health programs and help, Hartwig is taking this battle into his own hands, or feet.
The walk starts on the lawn of the legislature in Victoria and ends in St. John’s Newfoundland.
You can track his progress on his website.
© Shaw Media, 2014