Speaker Bio:
Diane Oliver

Speaks:

English

Speaking Topics:

Navy, Cold War, Remembrance, Women in the Military, Women in the Navy, PTSD, Technology, English

The Kootenay exploded at sea on October 23, 1969.

My husband was on that ship and I was a radio operator on duty in the Maritime Command Headquarters message centre and I received the first message.

In 2011, 42 years after the incident that produced the PTSD, I was formally diagnosed with PTSD and received my service dog, “Lady,” from National Services Dogs, through a program they were just starting for Veterans with PTSD.

Although my husband and I both have suffered from PTSD we have found a way to live again with the help of our special service dog, “Lady.”

It took Lady two years to teach us how to relax, have fun and go out in public again.

We are now 6 years into training with Lady and we are now showing her off to our community. We try to shine a light on mental illnesses such as PTSD and the wonderful help that can come from specially trained service dogs. We would like to show people that a person with mental illness is not to be feared but understood. After all we will all know someone or be someone that experiences some form of mental illness sometime in our lives.

I thought I would like to talk to grade 5 children. I remember grade 5 as a particularly hard grade because my father, a Warrant Officer in the Canadian Army, had just passed away. I remember feeling lost in a class of 30 something children. I would imagine that there are some children in every grade that are having a hard time fitting in and those are the children I would love to reach out to and say, “I see you.”

I would say, “Don’t give up on yourself.”

“Keep going.”

“If you feel lost when you are older, you can join the reserve military, like sea cadets or air cadets, and then the regular armed forces when you finish High School. Then you can learn a trade and find brothers, and sisters in-service, and friends that you remember all of your life.”

The Memory Project includes a community of over 1,500 veterans and Canadian Forces members who are committed to sharing their stories of service.

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