Vernon North Okanagan RCMP Sgt. Rob Farrer will wake early on Sunday to start his 239-kilometre walk at 7 a.m. to raise awareness and reduce stigma surrounding mental health and post-traumatic stress disorders.
Starting from the Vernon RCMP detachment, Farrer will head to the Okanagan Rail Trail entrance on Kalavista Drive. He will take the rail trail to Oyama, around Wood Lake and back — a trek he estimates will take him more than 60 hours to complete.
“More and more research is showing that the number of police officers with PTSD or related occupational stress injuries is well over double that of the general public and sadly this often leads to significant decreases in quality of life of both the officers and their families,” he said.
“While not always curable, PTSD can be dealt with in a positive way in order to acheive a meaningful life. The first step is to reach out for help.”
Farrer is walking in support of Courageous Companions — a service dog program which helps emergency responders suffering from long-term mental health problems and other stress-related issues acquire service support dogs to aid in their recovery.
The costs associated with training these service dogs are high, ringing in at approximately $25,000. A GoFundMe campaign has been started to raise funds for Farrer’s cause.