I have known Scotty for probably 8/9 years now and he's always been an interesting character. Scott has always been someone who was never afraid to share an idea or not do something. In that way he has always been an inspiration to others. Now as a councillor for Woolwich Township Scott has taken this to the next level yet behind the scenes there has been a hidden battle most people don't have insight into. In this way through his participation I hope Scott's story will be able to help others that may be struggling to either seek help or share their own story. I am now honoured to share with you Scotts story, please take the time to read it. Corporal Scott Hahn served in Afghanistan from 17 May - 15 December, 2010 as part of Task Force Kandahar.
Every soldier is different, soldiers ten feet apart from each other in a firefight will tell two different stories. I feel the most important story to tell is not of the mission, but after the mission. No soldier comes home the way they think they will.
Coming home can only be described as euphoric, after being stuck in a war torn country for seven months. All the things that were missing from daily life in Afghanistan, are all easily accessible. Running water, sleep, sex, good food, cold beer, and no fear for your life. In those first few fantastic days, a soldier’s mental health is checked by the Canadian Forces. I doubt many red flags are raised with any soldier. All the wrongs in the world are on another continent, everything in life is perfect in those first few days.
But I am not a veteran of war for a few days... I am a veteran for life.
During decompression, or re-integration into society training, I was told that I would think about my tour frequently when I returned to Canada, but after several months it would slowly sub seed. The difficulty I had was that after two years, there was rarely a moment where events of my tour were not running through my head like a permanent daydream. I would come home agitated because I had ultimately lived two full days in a nine hour work day. Nine hours physically on a job and nine hours mentally in Afghanistan. The minor stresses of daily life, the major stresses of battle and the politics of war that a soldier is subjected to, would compound on each other every day, and as you can imagine, anger was a side effect. Unfortunately, I often redirected that anger towards my wife, not physically, but verbally.
How does a soldier get over this? There is no one answer, the mind is a complex puzzle. Some simple examples could be, talking to a therapist, group therapy, peer support, taking up a hobby, drinking, drugs, suicide? The last one is not an option for myself, life is too precious. I have tried a few ways to get over my personal struggles, some were effective, and others were not. I haven't found peace yet, but I have found ways to keep my mind busy enough that I am forced to think about other things. I am an electrical foreman at work and often have several jobs on the go that require constant attention. I started into municipal politics and the meetings and research are time consuming. I took up bow hunting for deer and moose, and I try to get out fishing a few times a year. I also have the most important part to my personal therapy, my children. How could anyone look at a child and think of war? All the innocence and joy a child has is something to truly marvel at. They are the light at the end of a very dark tunnel for myself.
Other little things in life remind me that I am not alone and I truly have a nation behind me in support. There is a long list of kind deeds, from Canadians towards veterans, which I see daily. Support your troops magnets, a stranger buying a coffee, a family in Wellesley bought a beer for me one time, Don Cherry's constant support on Hockey Night In Canada, a firm handshake and "Thank You". This list doesn't do justice to all the unwavering support across Canada, but I feel that it should be acknowledged.
After four years, there still isn't a day where I haven't thought about Afghanistan, but I am noticing small improvements and I hope others that have any issues are finding their peace.