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Cpl Billy-Joe Laliberte

Cpl Billy-Joe Laliberte

I’m a Corporal in the Canadian Armed Forces. In 2013, I suffered an injury to my neck while on duty. Due to the extent of my injury, I had to have one of my vertebrae replaced in my neck.

Although the surgery provided some relief, chronic pain is now part of my daily life and it has significantly impacted my quality of life. The injury also caused me to no longer meet the universality of service for my trade as an infantry soldier. However, I was able to OT to the Supply Tech trade with permanent medical category limitations.

My injury and the surgery have impacted my ability to participate in many recreational activities I used to enjoy like running, high impact training or sports, motor biking and riding an ATV. I can no longer take part in certain activities as they may cause additional pain, damage or injury to my neck.

Being from Michipicoten First Nation off Lake Superior and near Wawa, ON, I regularly return to my community and take part in various activities by the Lake. Last summer, a friend introduced me to paddle boarding and it was amazing. Although it has its challenges, because I was able to move into different positions, i.e. paddle standing up or sitting down, do balancing exercises etc., I was able to get a good workout and not experience additional pain. As a former infantry soldier, physical activity and health are important to me.

I recently found out that due to increased medical limitations, I will be medically released in the near future. The military is all that I have known for the past 15 years. It is scary for me to think I will no longer be a serving CAF member. As a member of an operational unit for all of my career, being active and maintaining a healthy lifestyle have been part of my daily life in the military.

Now that my career in the CAF is coming to an end, it will be important for me to ensure I plan activities on my own to ensure I can maintain my physical and mental wellbeing. Paddleboarding is a recreational activity that I can enjoy without increased pain and it will be a great way to keep active going forward. Also, the fact that this activity takes place in the water and in nature is good for my overall well-being. I am convinced it will contribute to the healthy lifestyle I’d like to maintain, now and post-release. 

Cpl (retired) Christine Brouillette

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