Lloydminster resident Gordon C. Joyes has been putting on the extra kilometres criss-crossing Saskatchewan for the Wounded Warriors program and was recently bestowed the Saskatchewan Volunteer medal for his efforts.
On April 18, the volunteer was one of 11 people on whom the recognition was granted by Lt. Gov. Russ Mirasty who said, “I am honoured to have been able to meet them and to recognize their exceptional contributions during National Volunteer Week.”
Joyes is also a recent recipient of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee medal.
He says his father was a World War 1 veteran who struggled with PTSD having survived trench warfare in France.
Joyes shares that being involved in the Wounded Warriors program taught him a lot about his father and the reasons for his struggles. He now gives back through the program by supporting the efforts across the province as they help those who have served the country overcome the scars of the battle.
“The biggest thing is networking. They come out and we give them a weekend or a week of fishing, golfing and just being together. We have equine therapy for them. And in the end, they all keep together on Facebook and all the other social media. And they really get along.”
Joyes says that social networking offers support and in at least one instance has saved a life.
He describes an occasion when someone posted on social media that they needed someone to come and babysit their dog for a few days. Joyes explains that immediately it was understood that the person may have intended to self-harm.
“The people that saw it knew right away what she was up to. Within a few hours, somebody was on her doorstep. One person got a hold of another – somebody close to her. She was actually going to commit suicide. That’s why she was asking for someone to look after her dog.”
Joyes relates another episode about a former member who would not even talk to his neighbour and how they eventually got him active.
“We gave him a service dog. It got him out of the house. He wouldn’t talk to his neighbour. I met him after that – he stood up in North Battleford and talked to 400 people and told them his story. That’s the difference a dog makes. And he took that dog to the Invictus Games and of all the dogs there, the people voted Vixen the games dog.”
Joyes and other members of the Wounded Warriors program will be leading fundraising efforts across the province and Lloydminster during the summer months. He urges people to look for ways to contribute to their communities.