Tim Laidler is a master’s candidate in counselling psychology and a corporal in the Canadian Forces who is committed to enhancing the quality of life for veterans of war. As executive director of the Veterans Transition Network, he has increased awareness around the profound impact of war on soldiers and raised in excess of $2.5M to support the Veterans Transition Program — a peer-based group program developed at UBC in 1999. The program helps soldiers returning from active service overcome barriers preventing a healthy transition to civilian life.
Veterans can feel lost and disconnected after leaving the military or returning to Canada from long overseas missions, and all too often have to deal with Operational Stress Injuries. These are typically characterized by flashbacks, nightmares, debilitating anxiety, numbness or depression, and commonly accompanied by marital discord and difficulty holding down a job. Laidler understands all too well the importance of help for veterans trying to cope with these common issues. When he returned home with psychological stress after completing an eight-month tour of Afghanistan in 2008, he participated in the Veterans Transition Program himself.
On completing the program, Laidler went out of his way to commend and promote it and was so bent on its expansion he was soon offered the position of operations coordinator. Under his leadership, the program evolved into the non-profit organization Veterans Transition Network, now delivering the service across Canada to current and former members of the Canadian Forces. During the first year of operation, Laidler gained official recognition for the network from Veterans Affairs Canada, secured further federal funding, and expanded the cutting-edge program to include more than 20 staff across Canada.
He plays a key role recruiting veterans in need of support and also serves as a paraprofessional in group style sessions. His presence and ability to empathize makes it easier to cultivate trust. Since Laidler came on board as avid spokesperson, the program has received coverage more than 100 times, including through major media outlets like the CBC.
Through the Veterans Transition Network Laidler has made a profound difference in many people’s lives, including his own. He is also excelling as a graduate student. In 2013, he received a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of his work to support fellow members of the Canadian Forces. More information is available at vtncanada.org.