Canada Army Run: Supporting our troops especially critical during COVID-19

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Article / September 16, 2020 / Project number: 20-0120

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By Moira Farr, Army Public Affairs

Ottawa, Ontario — This year’s Canada Army Run is well underway, with thousands of participants running, walking, or rolling “virtually” across the country and around the world, until September 20th. 

While challenging themselves physically and mentally, all participants are raising much needed funds for the Canadian Armed Forces’ two official charitable organizations: Support Our Troops and Soldier On. 

This year more than ever, the need for donations is great, to keep dozens of programs going, whether it’s for kids from military families to attend camp or receive scholarship funding for school, or offering support to ill or injured members as they heal and reintegrate with their communities. 

“COVID has really compounded the challenges our ill and injured soldiers deal with,” says Scott Johnson, Associate Vice President, Corporate Development for Support Our Troops. “When you’re already feeling isolated, and something like this virus comes along, where you’re encouraged not to interact with people, that’s when we want to be there to help them.” And that’s why a special COVID-19 fund has been created, he adds, “to help that cohort, so when they’re ready to come off the bench, they can be fully functional and resilient and ready to rock.” 

One hundred percent of funds raised go to helping military members and their families

Georgia Brown, entering her second year as a student at the University of Ottawa, and recipient of a scholarship to complete her French teaching program, knows exactly how and why Support Our Troops helps military families. “My dad served 35 years in the Navy and just retired last year. And then my twin sister joined the Reserves the same year as an Naval Combat Information Operator (NCI Op) at the HMCS Carleton. I’ve always known about Support Our Troops, so when it was time to apply to universities obviously that was the first scholarship I thought of,” says Brown. “When I explain it to friends who didn’t grow up in the military, I tell them how Support Our Troops helps families with things like daycare. My mom was able to work while my dad was away.” 

Georgia, her sister and her cousin, who all live together, are participating in this year’s 5 K run, choosing a route that goes along the Rideau Canal. Another friend and her father are on Georgia’s team, and are running in their own neighbourhood. “It’s hard to convince people to go on a run by themselves, but by talking about my personal experience, I encourage people to join the Run.”

“I owe Soldier On so much”

Master Corporal (Retired) Jason Israel, an Army Run Ambassador, is doing the Commander’s Challenge this year — a half marathon of 21.1 K, plus 5 K daily, for eight days. Despite suffering severe symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder that cause him to have flashbacks from three tours of Afghanistan when he runs, MCpl (Rtd) Israel is determined to complete the challenge and inspire others. Released from the Army in 2016, after 15 years of service, he has an impressive record as a runner and coach with the Invictus Games (Toronto, 2017) and the Warrior Games (Colorado, 2019). 

“I have a lot of issues with my body because of my tours that have hindered me from performing to the level I want. I know I’m going to struggle doing this, but it’s to show everybody that even in our struggles, we can still succeed and move on.”

For Jason, moving on has included therapy, and recently, more willingness to talk openly about his experiences, thanks to Soldier On. “They have a rep in every area who talks to the soldier being released and says, ‘I want you to sign up for things. We want to help you progress and show you that you can carry on.’” 

As well as emotional and moral support, Jason received a grant from Soldier On to purchase a kayak, which has allowed him to get out and enjoy time outdoors with his family. 

“Jason Israel has been a real inspiration within the Soldier On community,” says Major (Retired) Jay Feyko, an Ambassador with Soldier On. “Despite his own bumpy path to recovery, he continues to motivate, inspire, and support his ill and injured peers through his natural leadership. Jason defines how to soldier on, and epitomizes the mission, aim, and values of the program.”

To make a donation to a Canada Army Run participant, go to https://raceroster.com/events/2020/32219/canada-army-run-virtual/participants

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