Veterans: Fighting their way back from the battlefield on the journey to wellness

The Veteran Farmer clinic is dedicated to helping veterans navigate their return to civilian life, cope with physical and mental wounds, and live their best lives.

Sharon Curtis

Veteran Dwight Rideout is a 22-year veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces and is a member of The Veteran Farmer.
Dwight Rideout, a 22-year veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces, is a member of The Veteran Farmer. Sharon Curtis/Kicker

Military service is a calling unlike any other. Soldiers prepare to fight and to die. Some make it home with their battle wounds.

The Veteran Farmer picks up the pieces.

Headquartered in Oromocto, N.B., the Veteran Farmer wellness clinic was founded by veteran Lloyd Farmer and his wife, Autumn. In spring 2019, the Veteran Farmer opened the doors of a location at 28 Allston Street, Mount Pearl.

Kristen Sellars, a veteran care coordinator and manager of the Veteran Farmer, said Farmer was inspired to start the clinic when he noticed gaps in care for veterans. Often, veterans weren’t adequately informed about such things as benefits and treatment options.

“Lloyd Farmer realized upon his release from the military he wasn’t given all the information that perhaps veterans should be given,” Sellars said.

Among the approaches he explored, Farmer was intrigued with the potential of cannabis to treat both physical and psychological issues faced by veterans. He did some research in the cannabis industry and was interested in how cannabis can be used as a medication.

Veterans Affairs Canada supports the use of cannabis for medical purposes such as treating post-traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder.

“Lloyd was also interested in navigating the world of Veterans Affairs Canada and finding out what benefits are available to veterans once they have been released from the military,” Sellars said.

Farmer’s research and a desire to help his fellow comrades led to the inception of the Veteran Farmer.

Dwight Rideout, a 22-year veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces, is one of the people the Veteran Farmer has helped.

Rideout served in the infantry for six years, then remustered (was reassigned) to new duties as a military carpenter.

During his time in the infantry, Rideout served in war zones.

“I did a six-month tour (of duty) in Croatia and another six-month tour in Bosnia . . . eight months apart,” Rideout said.

Rideout witnessed first-hand the carnages of war.

“Friends of mine got hurt real bad over there,” Rideout recalled. “One guy died. One guy lost his arm. One guy, a really good friend of mine, was crushed under a tank from his legs down . . . Things like that. Just things you see when you’re over there.”

Rideout suffers from major depressive disorder (MDD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“We see veterans who suffer with generalized anxiety, hypervigilance, MDD and PTSD,” said Sellars.

“Nobody leaves the military without being affected in some way, shape, or form, psychologically,” explained Sellars. “We help them navigate their journey to wellness.”

Then, there are the physical injuries.

Sellars said they see everything from foot, ankle, knee, shoulder and back injuries.

“It ranges from wear and tear, carrying equipment on their back, the boots they were issued, the helmets they wear,” Sellars said.

“We see hearing loss and tinnitus that stems from explosive noises they have been repeatedly exposed to, and veterans with limb amputations due to severe accidents that have happened during their service,” she added.

Among the services provided by the clinic are cannabis prescriptions from a nurse practitioner. There is social support via events such as a weekly Breakfast with Buddies on Tuesdays, a social lunch on Fridays, bowling, fly fishing and whale watching.

Also offered are transition programs that help veterans readjust to civilian life. One aspect of these programs are week-long retreats. These transition programs are fully funded by Veterans Affairs Canada.

Sellars said the clinic assists veterans to navigate the Veterans Affairs website, helps them with their paperwork and connects them with medical professionals.

The Veteran Farmer also assists RCMP members, first responders, paramedics, and others in the medical field, such as nurses.

For Rideout, it’s all about the camaraderie.

“I drop in a few times a week, and it feels like you’re back with some of your old buddies,” Rideout said. “Good people come here.”

For psychological support, the VAC Assistance Service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. To speak with a mental health professional, call toll-free 1-800-268-7708, TDD/TTY 1-800-567-5803.


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