Try the SENTINEL Program

Chaplain’s Corner

Megan jones

Capt Megan Jones looks forward to helping various faith groups at 4 Wing Cold Lake.
Photo: Cliff Kenyon

Padre Megan Jones

It’s that time of the year again, with the New Year comes New Year’s resolutions. Whether it’s getting fit, trying something new, or spending less time on our electronics, resolutions often mark what matters most to us. And it could be that this year you are looking for something new, maybe a different type of challenge. Well, if you are looking for a way of giving back and helping others, maybe the SENTINEL program would be a good fit for you in the New Year.

Established by the Royal Canadian Chaplain Service, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) SENTINEL Program is a peer support network made up of trained and supervised volunteer members of all ranks. Civilians may also volunteer with the approval of their local chain of command and local SENTINEL Chaplain. Through their informed presence within their units, the Sentinels play an important role in the prevention, detection, and support for colleagues in distress.

The program’s strength comes from identifying and utilizing peers and co-workers to provide front line care to fellow colleagues. When it comes to helping members who may be in crisis or suffering silently, there is no one better suited than a trusted peer, that is, a colleague who sincerely cares and is willing to listen and provide help.

Military members in distress may find it difficult to ask for help for any number of reasons, including personal pride, feelings of isolation, or social pressure. In the SENTINEL program, peers are trained to keep an eye out for signs of distress in their colleagues, particularly with respect to mental health. They can then encourage discussions and networking with additional agencies and resources to reduce potentially harmful isolation. It is not a question of training people in areas in which trained professionals are already working, such as mental health. Rather, Sentinels act as guides to resources, support programs, and tools available to CAF members and their families.

The program was first introduced to 4 Wing Cold Lake in 2017 and has grown to over 100 members. Training consists of an initial half day session to obtain the Sentinel qualification and ongoing development workshops will be offered depending on the groups interests and identified needs.

If you are interested in watching out for others and are good at listening, communicating and establishing a helping relationship with your peers then the SENTINEL program might be a good fit for you.

An initial training session for Sentinels will be taking place January 30, 2020 from 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. at the Wing Theatre. All interested candidates should send their nomination through their Chain of Command to +4Wing Sentinel@CHAP@Cold Lake. If you have any questions or require more information please contact your unit Chaplain or Padre Megan Jones at or 780-840-8000 extension 8167.