The Brave and Broken “If I Take My Life” campaign
Dennis MacKenzie, 34, is the founder of the non-profit organization called Brave and Broken, which is a support group that helps all veterans, their families and caregivers open up about any mental illness or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) they may be struggling with.
A campaign was recently released by MacKenzie and members of Brave and Broken called If I Take My Life. It asks veterans to share their experiences with PTSD, suicide and other mental or physical illness. “When I was released from the Canadian Armed Forces it felt like walking into a fog and trying to navigate my way back into society,” said MacKenzie, after nine years service.
“I was diagnosed with PTSD after returning from Afghanistan. I had a battle with trying to figure things out with not much success. But when I connected to similar veterans that’s when the healing process began, and I decided I wanted to help others by creating Brave and Broken,” he explained.
Dennis Terry, one of the six board members said, “Without Brave and Broken these men and women would not be with us today. And I mean not just maybe, but definitely.”
MacKenzie admitted nine of his comrades lost their battle to suicide. “After the video (If I Take My Life) was launched in June this year, my friend killed himself. He was in support of the campaign and his name was George. We need to talk openly about what happened because these are heroes that lost their lives to the invisible wounds of war and they are no different than a soldier who dies on the battlefield,” he stressed.
Brave and Broken is there to initially help veterans with their emergency needs, and then get them to Veterans Affairs of Canada or help them connect. The group meets every Wednesday at the Wilmot Community Center in Summerside at 10 am.
Feast Dinner Theatre is helping the initiative, while also paying a respectful tribute to the troops with their latest musical comedy called Twas the Night: Christmas in Kandahar. Revenue from tickets sold on November 21 will go to support Brave and Broken.
The new Feast production has a goal to put a smile back on the troops, offering them the taste and comfort of home. Johnson surmised, “You’re in a machine all the time, but during a concert that machine is turned off for two hours. It completely takes you from a war zone to a peaceful civilian place.”
Summerside’s Brother’s Two Restaurant, at 618 Water Street, kicks off the show on November 17. The Rodd Charlottetown hotel, 75 Kent Street, starts on November 23 with a preview on November 22. To book tickets to the Brave and Broken fundraiser November 21 call Denny Hopping at 902-439-6783. For all other bookings call 902-436-7674. www.feastdinnertheatres.com