Master Sailor Roth holding a C7A2 Rifle while standing in front of an M777 Howitzer. On his left arm, MS Roth has a Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) patch – All photos supplied
In 2008, Gunner Kevin Roth served in Afghanistan for seven months as part of B Battery, 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery as a gun detachment member. During his service in Afghanistan, Gunner Roth was a Tactical Combat Casualty Care member operating in a forward operating base. He recalls several traumatizing events from his time in Afghanistan. When he returned home, Roth continued with his life. While he wasn’t the same, being angrier and more emotional, he didn’t really pay attention to it or notice the difference. In 2014, he completed a Voluntary Occupational Transfer to the Royal Canadian Navy in a quest for happiness.
Ten years later, during the Leadership, Respect and Honour level 3 training as part of his Rank Qualification to Master Sailor (MS) course, MS Roth listened as someone talked about mental health. This was an enlightening moment for MS Roth, as he could identify with some of the symptoms of mental illness. After discussions with peers who were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, commonly known as PTSD, MS Roth was encouraged to talk with mental health professionals about the symptoms he was experiencing.
MS Roth began psychotherapy in the Fall of 2019 and has been in therapy ever since. “It’s a journey of self-discovery, of who you are, and the condition that you have,” he said.
MS Roth clearly remembers the date, May 13, 2020, the day he was diagnosed with PTSD. “My PTSD will never go away, it is not curable, but it is manageable. PTSD is part of who I am. Learning to adapt to it and overcome it has been a large part of my recovery.”
Every person is different and there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for PTSD. Recovery also takes time and requires lots of work. Some people may be hesitant to receive care because they are concerned about the impact a diagnosis could have on their career and their life. MS Roth’s deployment to the Indo-Pacific in HMCS Vancouver as a Fire Control Supervisor and his promotion after his diagnosis are proof that members can pursue a successful career in the Canadian Armed Forces and deploy even if they are recovering from illness.
MS Roth referenced an analogy about breaking a leg concerning the stigma surrounding mental health: if you have a broken leg, you seek treatment -the same goes for mental health issues. Each requires treatment and support. “Talking about it helps my recovery,” admits MS Roth. “If health professionals are not aware, they can’t help you. My advice is to be honest with yourself and with your medical team; they can help you. Take the time to heal and recover – you can get better and continue to have a successful career.”
If you or someone you know is struggling, there is help available: