Parkwood Hospital is very special place where our honoured Veterans receive specialized, compassionate care. We remember and pay tribute to their service on Remembrance Day... and every single day: their sacrifice and bravery is an inspiration for the entire St. Joseph's team.
Our Veterans' stories
- Getting their lives back on track: Roy Baillargeon and Frank Labodi
- This war bird had fun: Harry Cartmell
While there may be 44 years separating Roy Baillargeon and Frank Labodi — the two men are finding the services of the Operational Stress Injury Clinic (OSIC) at Parkwood Hospital helpful with easing their psychological scars that linger from their war experiences.
Roy was 19 years old when he joined the services, serving in the infantry in Italy and Holland during World War II. As a stretcher bearer, Roy helped wounded soldiers and witnessed the tragic death of his best friend. He also remembers his regiment taking only half rations so the food could be shared with the Dutch children who were starving.
“The children always let the littlest ones eat first; some who were eight or 10 years old didn’t get anything to eat,” he recalls.
Seventy years have passed, but those disturbing memories from the war still surface for Roy in the depths of the night.
Today Roy is a resident in the Veterans Care program at Parkwood and is grateful for the OSIC services, which are helping him come to terms with his war-time memories.
For Frank, 45, joining the Army Reserve when he was a teenager was a natural fit with his family’s history of military service. Frank served in the infantry in Cypress and as a combat medic in Kosovo and Afghanistan.
For each of Frank’s tours of duty with the Army Reserve he took a leave of absence from his civilian job as a paramedic. The tragedies he saw at home, in his civilian role, paralleled the struggles of the people of Afghanistan. No matter how terrible their situation became, Frank found the people of Afghanistan still appreciated every facet of life.
In Afghanistan Frank’s duties ranged from sentry patrol, to convoy escort, to checking the troops for injuries and infections. While serving there he spent 64 days in a row in the field, or “outside the wire” of the protective zone of the base adjusting to only two or three hours of sleep each night.
After Frank returned from Afghanistan, his family, friends and co-workers knew there was something wrong: his anger, isolation, sleeplessness and hyper-vigilance were impacting his job and his family life. When he sought help, he received immediate assistance from the OSIC team and found their services helped him get his life back on track.
“I was heading down a slippery slope,” says Frank, “the OSIC probably saved my life.”
The OSIC at Parkwood, funded by Veterans Affairs Canada, is a specialized mental health service for veterans, members of the Canadian Forces, and eligible members of the RCMP who are encountering ongoing difficulties as a result of military service-related psychological injury and traumatic events. The OSIC’s multidisciplinary team provides assessment, treatment and prevention for those suffering from PTSD, anxiety, depression or addiction.
During World War II Harry Cartmell was involved in a project that changed the face of warfare. As a Royal Canadian Air Force Flight Lieutenant flying for the Royal Air Force, he played an integral role in developing the night photo reconnaissance technique. “It took us three or four months to figure it out, but once we did we could take a picture of any road in Europe within a few feet of our target,” says Harry.
Flying at night in their de Havilland Mosquito, Harry and his navigator dropped flash bombs to illuminate the ground below which allowed them to take pictures of where the enemy was positioned. They passed this information along to the army, which planned their attacks accordingly.
Despite two tours and 60 operations, Harry’s plane was never hit. “We studied what we were doing and thought out our strategy,” he says. “I had a lovely time in the war — it was like a game of chess and we were winning. This war bird had fun.”
In the Air Force, he adds, they worked for a month, then had a week’s holiday in Scotland which they spent hunting rabbits to help feed civilians on rations.
Harry flew his last mission on the last day of the war. Among the medals he received for his flying and reconnaissance prowess are the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Croix de Guerre from the French government.