It’s a positive event, with a serious goal: to help those struggling with work-related mental illnesses get the help they need.
Airshow pilot Geoff Latter was in Moose Jaw, Sask., about 70 km west of Regina, to fly his Nanchang CJ-6 plane in the ‘Help For Heroes’ Airshow on Saturday.
The airshow set out to raise funds and awareness for firefighters, police officers, paramedics and veterans who risk their lives on a regular basis and often are put in traumatic situations.
It’s not such a departure for Latter, who, before becoming a commercial pilot and airshow mainstay, flew as an advanced life support air ambulance pilot for the Government of Ontario.
“I only did it for a three-year-period in my career. A lot of these paramedics and a lot of these firefighters see some pretty terrible things and they do it for a lifetime,” Latter said. “It’s all about having people get the help that they need if they’re seeing things that are traumatic.”
Event organizer Brent Handy, who is a captain with the Canadian military, said he’s seen the lives of friends and neighbours change dramatically after years on the job suffering silently. In the community, he said mental illness has shown itself through emotional outbursts, the breakdown of marriages and even suicide.
The reality of trauma
“The average person just has no idea how much trauma these folks are seeing every single day and it’s got to have an effect on them and I know that is does have an effect on a lot of them,” Handy said, explaining why he thought it was a fitting cause for the airshow to support.
“I just thought if there’s a way that we can have a lot of fun while raising money for a worthwhile cause, this has going to hopefully help some of those folks get some treatment that will get them on the right path.”
Handy said he wants to see the stigma of mental illness, or mental injury as he prefers to call it, dissipate.
“The one thing I’ve come to truly understand is that it is an injury more so than a weakness. And I think a lot of times people perceive it as a weakness but it’s not at all,” he said.
With the operating costs almost completely covered by sponsors, the money from Saturday’s ticket sales will go straight to charity. In total, organizers said the event drew about 2,500 people, raising about $15,000 for their chosen charities, Tema Conter…