Tim Laidler – a Combat Veteran’s Journey
© 2011 by Glenna Barron
Tim Laidler, son of Council member Timothy Laidler, has seen more of the terrible things in life than most of us.
Laidler was a member of the army reserve in B.C., attending university, and thought a tour of duty in Afghanistan would give him invaluable life and work experience. In January 2008, after some extra military training, he left for Kandahar, Afghanistan as part of the Canadian military effort. He was there for eight months, working in extremely hazardous conditions.
Returning to Canada, he completed his Bachelor’s degree at University of British Columbia, then sought employment in the civil sector. He became concerned that some employers felt the experience he gained as a driver, supply convoy gunner and junior crew commander was an encumbrance rather than an asset. They did not recognise that he had learned teamwork and leadership skills and could work under incredibly difficult conditions; a valuable asset to any career.
After two years of trying to figure out how to use his experience in Afghanistan to assist others, a friend suggested he have a look at the Veteran’s Transition Program at the University of B.C., the only program of its kind in Canada. There, he found recognition and acceptance and was able to assist other veterans. He decided to continue working with the program as a career choice. Describing the program, Laidler says, “It’s not simply a healing program. It’s about transitioning soldier skills into civilian skills, regaining what you may have lost overseas and building on your abilities.”
Laidler, now 26, is the executive director of the Veteran’s Transition Program and is working towards his Master’s degree in psychology. He wants to meld his skills as a psychologist with what he learned as a veteran reintegrating into civilian life; his goal is to help those in hyper-masculine careers. Police, soldiers, emergency workers and even NHL hockey players often suffer emotional and social disconnect, and have great difficulty being both strong and sensitive.
Laidler is regularly asked by the media to speak about combat veterans and the emotional and other difficulties they face when trying to reintegrate into society. He hopes that people will begin to understand how some Canadian soldiers on duty in Afghanistan were affected.
If you would like to learn more about the Veterans Transition Program, a documentary, called War in the Mind, gives an in-depth look at the program. Soldiers talk about how they were affected by their tour of duty in Afghanistan. Also interviewed is Lieutenant General (Retired) Roméo Dallaire, who campaigns on behalf of soldiers who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and who suffered from PTSD to the point where he attempted suicide.
In these YouTube postings, Fanny Kiefer interviews Dr. David Kuhl and Tim Laidler about the Veterans Transition Program, and about the documentary, War in the Mind: