My name is retd Sgt Rob Gagnon, and I was an Electronics Technician with the Navy - Canadian Armed Forces.
On April 4th 1999, I joined the Canadian Armed Forces on a bet with my father, who said I was not tough enough. My intention was to join the Air Force, but an Electronics Technician job was open right away with the Navy and I decided it was time to move now! My first memory of the Forces was waking to the bell in basic training. I was a little panicked and asked myself: “What am I doing here?”. A few years passed and I finished my trades training and I embarked on my first fisheries patrol off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. I grew up in Hamilton, so sailing was not an activity I was overly familiar with. As it turned out, being at sea with a great group of people was amazing. I definitely had some of the best times of my career sailing around the world.
Unfortunately, any military service comes with the risk of injury. For me, that risk became a reality. I was never the person who complained but always pushed myself to my physical and mental limits. I suffered several injuries: seven compressed discs in my back, post traumatic stress disorder and post concussion disorder to name a few. Even though I never complained and always pushed myself to get the job done, my injuries eventually became too much to overcome. I was not able to continue serving. I felt lost because I was losing my CAF family. It was at this point that my PTSD surfaced.
My wife encouraged me to reach out to Soldier On. I broke down just submitting the application form. To my surprise I was selected to participate in the Warrior Games. The experience of being around so many other veterans with similar problems opened my eyes and started my journey of healing. Soldier On helped me rediscover myself and my love for sports. The sporting activities brought me to a place where I felt a sense of freedom and empowerment. I felt like I could do anything despite my injuries. I connected with other veterans in my area and we keep in touch. I would tell any veteran out there who is lost, afraid, and thinking that they can't do it anymore to go online and apply to Soldier On. Go to any event or camp that you may be interested in and believe me when I say...IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE!