Aubrey Francis prepares meal for guests at Manna cafe

Veteran with PTSD Helps Himself by Helping Others

11
.08

When thoughts of horror and loss start to seep into his mind, Aubrey Francis focuses on the positive things in his life―volunteering and his faith.

“Remembrance Day is hard for me,” says the 47-year-old. “While serving in the military I witnessed some of the most gut-wrenching things you could imagine. There was so much hate and I wasn’t prepared for that. And I’ve lost a lot of friends to combat and suicide.”

Over a span of 20 years, Francis served 11 tours of duty. “I spent more time out of the country than I did in,” says Francis.

But there was a sacrifice to serving his country. For years Francis buried his anger, grief, guilt and shame. “Because that’s what you do when you want to appear tough,” he says.

Francis was eventually diagnosed with PTSD and left the military in 2008. He continued to have nightmares of frightening scenes, withdrew from family and friends, and became a workaholic in his small chip truck business. But no matter what he did or what counselling he received, he couldn’t remove himself from the flashbacks and painful memories.

“Memories are memories,” says Francis. “You can’t just deprogram them.”

Before long, Francis was asked to volunteer as a chef with The Salvation Army’s Manna Café (a bistro-style environment) in Gananoque, Ont., which serves the hungry and those struggling to make ends meet.

“The café is a place where everyone is welcome to enjoy a free meal and conversation,” says Francis. “And it’s a place that cheers me up and keeps me motivated. It’s a sense of community.

“Giving back and doing something good helps my PTSD. I often find myself in the dining area sharing my experiences to help others know there is hope.  When I do that, I’ve had a good day.”
 

 

 

 

Related Articles

Community based drug treatment program supports at risk youth

At-Risk Youth Reach for the Stars, Not for Drugs

10
.16

Before Deena (not her real name) entered a Salvation Army community-based drug treatment program she used daily, struggled with anxiety and depression, and did not have a good relationship with her mother. Today, Deena is drug free, coaching sports, working and is in university.

“The program fills a gap in the community to provide local supports for youth involved with or at risk of being involved with the justice system and/or who have experienced negative life circumstances that include drug use, […]

Red Cap anger management program helps school children handle their emotions

Anger Management Program Helps School Children Handle Their Emotions

10
.10

It is common for children to have difficulty controlling their emotions.

Nicole, 11, got in lots of fights at school. Lindsay, 13, pushed people. Today, with help from The Salvation Army’s Red Cap anger management program in Dartmouth, N.S., they have developed appropriate responses to anger-provoking situations and have confidence in their ability to control their emotions.

“I feel better,” says Nicole. “Red Cap helped me stop fighting or walking out of class because I was mad. I don’t do that anymore. […]