(GG) Today, we're speaking with Fabrice Octeau, a peer support coordinator with the Operational Stress Injury Social Support Program. This national peer support network for Canadian Armed Forces members, veterans and their families provides mentorship, first-hand lived experience and practical knowledge for those with an operational stress injury.
Thanks for joining us today, Fabrice. I was wondering if you could give us a quick overview of what an operational stress injury is and what are some of the contributing factors.
(FO) Well, the OSISS program which has just celebrated its 20th year of existence has developed the term of "operational stress injury" which we call "OSI" which describe any persistence psychological difficulties resulting from a military operational task, including training incident, domestic and international operations.
There are different factors and experiences that can contribute to an OSI: trauma or injury by impact, grief, fatigue or moral injury. When you have a difficulty managing your emotions such as mood swing, withdrawal, social isolation, anger, feeling of distress, helplessness, aggression or impulsivity. Your sleep is disturbed and there is a loss of interest in the activity of daily living, you might have an OSI and you should consult and ask for help.
(GG) And I understand that this is a “for peers by peers” support program. Can you tell us more about what it's like for the individual when this is the approach?
(FO) Well, peer helpers and peers with an OSI share similar experiences which helps to create close bonds and a climate of trust and non-judgment. Being able to look at someone in the eyes and see that they understand and feel what you have experienced, a resilient person who listens to you, who accompanies you in the most difficult moments, to whom you can confide feelings, stories and cry, well, this provides hope and relief from your OSI.
(GG) For those who want to reach out for themselves or a loved one who might be suffering from an operational stress injury, how can they get support?
(FO) The best way to contact us is by using our web page at the osiss.ca or by calling our 1-800 number, 883-6094. We will contact you and explain the one-on-one support program and possible peer support groups, the confidentiality of our program. We will accompany the peers in the different stages of their recovery, support them and their loved ones and give them hope and motivation in the face of the various changes that appear. Above all, develop solutions to the challenges that arise and refer them to the right people. Because it's essential to seek help and support as soon as possible to promote your recovery.
(GG) Absolutely. And I want to thank you so much for joining us today, Fabrice.
(FO) You're welcome and thanks again from the program and myself. Bye.