While it was an ankle injury sustained while rappelling out of a helicopter that led to Glen Adam’s medical release from military service, it was the invisible injuries hidden for decades that led to him seeking treatment at St. Joseph’s Operational Stress Injury Clinic (OSI Clinic).
Born in Montreal East, Glen followed in his uncles’ footsteps joining the military in 1981 when he was 18 years old. He was posted to Victoria, BC, spent six months in Cyprus in 1988, and did two six-month back-to-back tours in the former Yugoslavia.
When the rappelling accident put an end to his military career, Glen became a salmon fishing guide in British Columbia. He then returned to school to become an occupational therapy/physiotherapy assistant (OTA/PTA). Returning to Ontario, he was an OTA/PTA in a health care facility for 15 years before retiring last spring.
Looking back, Glen remembers first noticing symptoms of his operational stress injury (OSI), such as angry outbursts, during his tour of duty in the former Yugoslavia. “I believe those symptoms were the result of living in an unfamiliar place, being away from home for a long time, and the pressures faced every day while in a military zone,” says Glen.
Glen explains that once he returned to civilian life, when he wasn’t working he was living like a hermit, spending far too much time alone in his basement. “I had to get some quality back into my life and I knew I couldn’t manage the OSI by myself,” he says. Through Veterans Affairs Canada, he was connected with the OSI Clinic at Parkwood Institute.
“Right away I felt comfortable at the clinic, and started working on “me”,” says Glen.
He also joined the MySelf program, which the OSI Clinic runs in conjunction with Veterans Arts. This program is designed for people who have isolated themselves as a result of trauma, challenging them to open up, socialize with others who have an OSI, and explore new things. For Glen, the new opportunities he’s exploring include dabbling in yoga and creating stained glass art.
“Through the MySelf program I’m learning to enjoy my retirement, getting out more, and doing things I didn’t have the chance to do earlier in life instead of staying in a rut doing the same things over and over again,” says Glen. “With an OSI, it’s important to go in with an open mind – you get out of the treatment what you put into it.”