Kate MacEachern, a Nova Scotia native and former Canadian soldier, will walk across three provinces to raise awareness for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a mental issue that is sometimes misdiagnosed, commonly ignored or misunderstood. This will be her third walk across Canadian provinces to continue this passionate mission.
Her story is interesting and awe-inspiring. Corporal Kate MacEachern, a member of the Armour School at CFB Gagetown in New Brunswick had been publicly applauded by Defence Minister Peter MacKay for her “arduous fundraising walk in aid of injured soldiers.” After being ordered by her superiors not to repeat the fundraiser walk again, the following summer she suddenly decided to leave the military, and did so on a medical leave.
Kate has had her own struggles to overcome. She experienced a very bad fall as a member of the Lord Strathcona’s Horse Regiment, and sustained serious injuries to her spinal cord and brain. Despite the initial doctors’ prognosis, showing indomitable spirit, MacEachern took her first steps a few days after the accident. She has been diagnosed with ‘non-combat PTSD’. While on a medical leave, a chat with her grandmother spurred in her the idea of walking across the country to promote this common condition affecting soldiers, PTSD.
Her campaign is called ‘The Long Way Home’, focused on the awareness of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and various organizations that help veterans, military personnel and emergency responders. In 2012, she walked 576 kilometres from New Brunswick to Nova Scotia. In 2013, she walked 1,864 kilometres from Cape Breton Nova Scotia to Ottawa.
Last summer (2014), she walked 562 kilometres in full uniform (and pack!) from Gagetown to Antigonish, raising $20,000 for the military charity ‘Soldier On’.
This will be her longest journey yet. Her 2015 trek began on May 1st, walking from Nipawin, SK to Chilliwack, BC. She will stop in Leduc on Sunday, May 31st. She hopes to complete the 2,700 kilometre journey in three months, so she can attend the 2015 Wounded Warriors Weekend event in Chilliwack, in late July. MacEachern, laden with a 45 lb. rucksack will be greeted in Legion Halls and Anavet Clubs along the way: these are clubs which started in 1840 and now boast 18,000 veteran members across Canada. Supporters are welcome to walk with her, and those who want to follow her journey can do so through an online map.
For the 2015 walk, MacEachern will team up with another group that provides therapy horses to help people dealing with PTSD. MacEachern’s 2015 walk will raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Weekend Foundation, Alpha K9 (a service dog organization), the N.A.S.H. project (which also has an equine therapy program) and Paws Fur Thought (a service dog group).
On Sunday, May 31st at 9am, Kate MacEachern will stop at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 108 in the City of Leduc to share a bit of her mission and journey, hopefully collect donations from supporters, and leave refueled by collective energy and caring. Citizens who appreciate her dedicated mission can come meet her, chat with her and contribute to her fundraising efforts.