Sentinels “Patched” at 17 Wing

News Article / September 28, 2020

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The Royal Canadian Air Force supports the mental and physical wellbeing of its personnel. The Canadian Armed Forces Sentinel Program, with more than 3,000 qualified individuals, plays an important role in the prevention, detection, and support for colleagues in distress. Once qualified, members need to take ongoing training each year to maintain their knowledge and discover newly available resources. Civilians may also volunteer, with the approval of their local chain of command and local Sentinel Chaplain.

Taking pride in the personnel who have completed training, and to highlight the Sentinel program, we are happy to share the latest from 17 Wing Winnipeg, Manitoba.

By Bill McLeod

Captain Kevin Pauley and Corporal Phillip Kargut were presented their brand new Sentinel patches by 17 Wing Commander Colonel Eric Charron and Wing Chief Warrant Officer Claude Faucher at a small ceremony in the 17 Wing Headquarters atrium on June 24, 2020.

The two members were representing the approximately 140 Sentinels trained at 17 Wing to date. According to Wing Chaplain and RCAF Command Sentinel Representative Major Kevin Olive, the patches should be rolling out to the trained RCAF Sentinels over the next two weeks.

The Sentinel Program, established by the Royal Canadian Chaplain Service, is a peer support network made up of trained and supervised volunteers of all ranks. Military culture in the past may have made it difficult for members to come forward and ask for help. Sentinels, being peers, can provide assistance in detecting members in distress and connecting members with the links to all the resources available to them.

“We talk about people, people being important,” Colonel Charron said following the patching. “We’ve got it in our policies. Chapter One of ‘Strong, Secure, Engaged’. So, what does it mean? What does it mean to say people are important? It could mean lip service, just words, or it could mean action.“The badge you are wearing today… that stands for action.

That’s the two of you deciding to step out from the line,” he continued. “It’s easy to be in three ranks with everyone else and, ‘Yeah, yeah, we’re going to help’, or some kind of battle cry like, ‘Who’s going to help their buddy? We are!’ But to go the extra step, to inform yourself, to get trained, to identify yourself as somebody who can provide some assistance for someone who just doesn’t know where to turn… that’s the extra step. That’s dedication. That’s leadership.”

Wing Chief Warrant Officer Faucher said that although the Sentinel Program was championed out of the chaplain’s office, morale and welfare was also a Social Work Officer’s responsibility, and their responsibilities paralleled closely. “One of the major responsibilities we have is the care of our people and this is the ultimate care you can give to people,” Chief Warrant Officer Faucher added. “Sometimes, people are going through hardships, and you need to be able to recognize this first-hand. Who is best suited to recognize that a person is having issues? Their peers. People you work with. So, if you’re trained in recognizing the signs and symptoms of a person in distress, you become extremely important.”

Bill McLeod manages The Voxair, 17 Wing Winnipeg’s newspaper.

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