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Trauma program in Vernon aims to assist female veterans, first responders

Almost half of women in Canadian military and public safety experience sexual assault and harassment

Almost half of the women in the Canadian military and public safety experience sexual assault and harassment in these fields.

The staggering statistic has prompted the formation of a Women’s PTSD and Military Sexual Trauma program, coming to Vernon Sept. 4 to 15, and Sept. 18 to 29.

“This program is specially designed for female veterans and first responders to address critical issues they have faced,” said Adrienne Davidson-Helgerson, director of operations, Operational Stress Recovery Program Vernon. “There are many first responders and veterans in our communities who desperately need access to integrated intensive mental health treatment, as traditional weekly talk therapy is not sufficient for their condition.”

READ MORE: Stress of first responders addressed at Vernon workshop

In a recent interview with Anna-Lisa Rovak, a graduate of the program, she shed light on the challenges faced by women who dedicate their lives to ensure the safety of others.

She learned of the program through a gentleman who took it, who told her that “it would change your life.”

Rovak was diagnosed with military sexual trauma from her military service and was struggling to find something that would help.

While attending other programs, Rovak says that she did not feel safe or supported, but this program was different.

“Safety is paramount when doing any program, and this is safety for all participants, no matter what sex.

“Without that feeling of safety and trust, no healing can truly happen.

“Don’t be scared. Go with an open mind, body and soul.

“Be prepared for some tears and pain. Be honest with yourself and everyone else there.

“Get to know the incredible people who facilitate the program. Allow yourself to trust them.

“The biggest piece of advice is to be there for yourself.”

To ensure the success of this life-saving program, the organization is seeking donations and sponsorships to enable veterans and first responders to benefit.

A GoFundMe has been created at

“We are also actively reaching out to local businesses for potential partnerships, specifically seeking support in the form of a van or bus and appropriate accommodations or venues. Such contributions would be invaluable in expanding our capacity to assist clients facing financial constraints,” said Davidson-Helgerson.

“The harsh reality is that intensive residential mental health treatments, especially for complex and severe trauma cases, come with significant costs. Traditional avenues like insurance or workers’ compensation frequently fall short in covering the expenses of these multidisciplinary residential programs, which are often the sole effective treatment option for such cases.”

The program will offer both in-person and virtual appointments.

Any local first responders in need of support for a traumatic stress injury related to their duties are welcome to apply via

READ MORE: What’s happening around the North Okanagan


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