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RCMP officer completes his 239-km journey for mental health


October 11, 2019
By Const. Kelly Brett, Vernon North Okanagan RCMP
Photo: Vernon North Okanagan RCMP

Despite facing inclement weather and an extreme distance, 3:23 p.m. on Oct. 8 marked the end of a long and strenuous journey that is close and personal to Vernon North Okanagan RCMP officer Sgt. Rob Farrer as he completed a gruelling 239-km walk for mental health.

Farrer set out on Oct. 6, 2019 at 7:00 a.m. from the Vernon RCMP detachment on a quest to raise awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health associated to post-traumatic stress disorders among first responders. As the walk continued through to the Okanagan Rail Trail and around Wood Lake, on a continuous loop, Farrer battled through his 60-hour journey with support from co-workers, friends, family and the community.

On day two, friend and colleague Sgt.-Maj. Sebastien Lavoie, from the B.C. RCMP, joined Farrer to help him complete the remaining 100 kilometres, until his goal of 239 km was reached. The two battled through some undesirable weather as a storm rolled in Monday evening, however, they kept moving and said they knew what they were experiencing was nothing compared to the realities of those with mental health disorders on a daily basis.

I am absolutely amazed and thankful for all of the support from both inside and outside of the RCMP organization,” Farrer stated after returning home. “Although I am tired and sore, I am extremely grateful for the awareness raised, as a result of the walk, surrounding Operational Stress Injuries among first responders. It’s a conversation we must keep having to support one another.

“Congratulations and thank you to Sgt. Farrer for undertaking this incredible initiative,” says Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachen, Commanding Officer of the B.C. RCMP. “It is extremely important that we continue the conversation surrounding Operational Stress Injuries (OSI) so that we are able get the necessary assistance to people in need. Sgt. Farrer’s efforts will help to bring much needed attention to the topic and reduce the stigma.”

Photo: Vernon North Okanagan RCMP

Farrer adds that the media and social media coverage has been overwhelming, especially as he is also looking to raise funds for Courageous Companions, a service dog program created by OSI- CAN. The program helps members suffering from long-term OSIs, PTSD and other related issues, acquire service dogs to provide support and aid in their recovery. The cost of acquiring and training OSI service dogs is approximately $25,000.

To continue to support Sgt. Farrer on his quest to raise awareness and reduce stigma surrounding mental health you can visit his gofundme page.

 

Const. Kelly Brett is the media relations officer for Vernon North Okanagan RCMP.