Canadian Afghanistan war veteran finds music helps soothe battle with PTSD

Regardless of dabbling in music since he was a teen, it was solely just lately that Afghanistan war veteran Dennis MacKenzie got here to understand its energy to ease the psychological turmoil he has struggled with since returning to Canada.

Dennis MacKenzie was identified with post-traumatic stress dysfunction quickly after ending a seven-month deployment within the war-torn nation in 2007.

In a current interview, the previous infantry soldier with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment primarily based in Gagetown, N.B., described a psychological descent that noticed him lose a profession he liked when he was medically launched in 2013.

“I simply didn’t have the identical persistence. I felt completely different instantly,” MacKenzie stated. “You’re in a combat-ready preventing unit, and now impulsively, you’re throwing up coming in the principle (base) gate.”

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Within the years after his launch from the navy, the Bonshaw, P.E.I., resident tried nearly every thing to assist quell an internal battle that has made it laborious to maintain a job and led to a interval the place he wanted alcohol simply to perform.

“I can’t even rely what number of therapies,” MacKenzie stated. “From medical eye motion desensitization and reprocessing-type therapies, all the way in which to yoga and breath work, you identify it. The most important factor for me has been music. I’m utilizing it as a method to launch what’s inside.”

A big step in that expression is the discharge Wednesday of his first album, “The Guardian Angel Platoon,” accessible via Bandcamp, Spotify and

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The idea album made with music producer Dennis Ellsworth takes the listener from a soldier’s recruitment, via a tour in Afghanistan and the lack of comrades there, to a return house and the lack of extra troopers to psychological torment and suicide.

Figures launched by the Canadian Armed Forces in June point out a complete of 191 navy personnel have died by suicide during the last decade. Whereas not all of that complete is because of Afghanistan, it’s greater than the 158 service members who had been killed whereas deployed within the nation from 2001 to 2014.

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Within the music “Lanterns”, MacKenzie tackles the problem head-on. “They shall not develop outdated commander will say once we received’t point out them on Remembrance Day,” he sings. “For it appears nobody cares to honour those we lose to the struggle as soon as they lay down their weapons.”

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MacKenzie, who misplaced 10 pals in fight in the course of the struggle, stated the music is about honouring these misplaced to suicide and the “invisible wounds of struggle.”

As for the album, he stated it’s the results of him lastly taking music significantly in recent times and recognizing its potential. “For me it’s extra about attempting to attach folks and attempting to have them perceive the scenario of a veteran,” stated MacKenzie. “I simply need to have the ability to share this message, and I believe that is the proper method for me to have the ability to do it. It’s me having the ability to advocate, but in addition heal on the identical time.”

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The guitar participant stated final spring he taught the instrument via music packages for veterans supplied by Canada Home Clinics in Charlottetown, and he’s hoping to renew that instructing sooner or later.

MacKenzie stated album purchases include a small steel lantern pin. He stated the proceeds will go on to fund and create music remedy packages for veterans via the veterans group Soldier On.

The novice singer-songwriter stated he desires to show as many veterans as attainable onto the advantages of creating music.

“You’ll be able to go expertise and have a sense, however music you study and also you get to take with you,” he stated. “Any time that you really want that once more, it (music) is correct there for you.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first revealed Nov. 10, 2021.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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