Canadian Veterans Advocacy

Monday, October 14, 2013

New announcement: Corporal leaving military after PTSD walk disagreement

Corporal leaving military after PTSD walk disagreement

CTV Montreal
Published Sunday, October 13, 2013 6:52PM EDT

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A Canadian soldier is leaving the military after being denied time off work to raise money for a military charity.

Cpl. Kate MacEachern raised $20,000 for the charity Soldier On last year by walking more than 500 kilometres in her Long Way Home trek, but when she asked for time off to walk even farther this year, her bosses said no.

The walk aims to raise money to help vets, particularly those stricken with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

"When I asked permission this year, I had a feeling that I wasn't actually going to get it. I already knew that if it came back as a no, I was ending my career," said MacEachern, who was passing through Montreal Sunday.

Last year, MacEachern walked from CFB Gagetown in New Brunswick, where she is posted, to her hometown of Antigonish, N.S. She received accolades from her superiors and even Defence Minister Peter MacKay.

"I have not ever felt so strongly or been so devoted to something in my entire life," an emotional MacEachern said.

According to CFB Gagetown internal memos, MacEachern's superiors said there would be no one to replace her during the 45 days she requested off to complete this year's 1,600 kilometre walk from Gagetown to Ottawa. This time, the walk will benefit Military Minds, an organization that helps soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Officially, MacEachern is only allotted 25 vacation days annually.

MacKay says he only learned about MacEachern's situation Friday and has asked for more details.

NDP defence critic Jack Harris says the time to act is now and that a compromise should be reached for a woman who has received "very shabby treatment."

MacEachern, a single mother of a nine-year-old boy, will start marching from CFB Gagetown on Sept. 3.

"At the end of the day you need to stand up for what you believe in no matter what the cost," MacEachern said.

MacEachern has been in the military for seven years, and will be ending her career next month.

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The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

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