Hi. My name is Dan Doyle and I became a member of the Edmonton Police Service Veteran’s Association in 2006, shortly after I retired in late 2005. I assisted Tom Peebles with the Call Box, which is the monthly newsletter for the EPS Veteran's Association, submitting articles for the year of 2006.
In 2007, I took over the editor's position from Tom and was in charge of the Call Box. Shortly after taking it over, I began receiving calls from Veterans as well as their family members, asking for assistance in different matters. I spoke with Tom about these calls and he informed me that he had been receiving these types of calls for years when he was the Call Box editor. He advised me that he would go for coffee with some of the members and talk about things in an attempt to help them through rough times.
In 2010, I became the President of the EPS Veteran's Association shortly after Bob LePage decided that he had contributed for numerous years and wanted to let someone else take the reins. Immediately, I began receiving calls at all hours of the day and night from Vets and from serving members who were dealing with Vets. These calls ranged in severity from minor issues to serious issues where Vets had been arrested. I was not receiving the calls on a daily basis, however, I was receiving enough of them to identify that there was a need for more help than I was able to or qualified to give.
My first stop was the Edmonton Police Service, since all of the phone calls pertained to retired members of the EPS. I began with Human Resources and spoke with the Inspector in charge of the unit. I was instructed to speak with the Sergeant in Human Resources who was in charge of dealing with issues that involved serving members. The Sergeant's duty was assisting members with finding the help they needed in troubling times. I was attempting, at this point, to gain access to the EPS resources for our retired members and was hopeful that we would be allowed to piggy-back with counsellors, etc. Unfortunately, I was turned down because no resources were available to members once they retired.
I then spoke with the Edmonton Police Association and requested assistance from them. Once again, I was turned down because they only dealt with serving members and their issues, not retired members and theirs.
I called numerous Police Departments in North America, asking whether they had anything in place to assist members once they were retired. Each and every one I spoke with stated that it was a great idea but they didn’t have any such program in place. I also called the RCMP Chaplin and he informed me that because they were federal employees, they had all of the benefits from the federal government. Unfortunately, since we are a municipal police service, we do not fall under the federal benefits package.
The next step I took was calling Lawrence PECK, who is the EPS Chaplain. I thought that he might be able to assist and he told me that my proposal was an excellent idea. Unfortunately, it was not in his mandate and he was far too busy to take care of both serving and retired members. All said and done, I was back where I had started, but I wasn't ready to give up. Something needed to be done about our Vets.
I called the Chief of Police, being Dave Korol, who was the acting chief after Chief Boyd had left. I was not able to speak with him, however, I left a message for him. As we had done during the entire time, my wife Debbie and I spoke about the number of calls and requests for assistance for our Vets. That same evening, Debbie and I were talking and she informed me that she was on a Suicide Awareness / Prevention Course during the day and had spent some time speaking with Dave Korol’s wife, Sheila Dow. She told Sheila about the calls that we were receiving and that there was no help for the retired members. They spoke about how many retired members have committed suicide, self-medicated with drugs or alcohol, or engaged in high-risk behaviour, all due to incidents on the job that may have caused PTSD.
It was a few days later when I received a call from Chief Korol and he asked me to briefly describe the situation that I was facing with the retired members. He asked if I would attend a meeting with him, Lawrence Peck, and the lady in charge of Human Resources. (I don't remember her name.) I agreed and he advised me that Lawrence Peck would be in touch with me once the date was set. The meeting was held at Police Headquarters and the four of us were present. I was asked by the Chief to explain what exactly it was that I was attempting to do for the retired members. I explained the idea that I had, and what I was attempting to do in able to ensure the well-being of the Vets. At that meeting, the Chief suggested that a board be put together for the purpose of dealing with the Vets. He also made a commitment that all of the resources used by the EPS Human Resources Unit would be at our disposal. The lady in charge of Human Resources agreed that this could be accomplished. We needed to have a name for this board and while discussing the possibilities, Lawrence Peck stated that we were discussing a Veterans' Assistance Program for our Vets - the name was born.
Chief Korol informed me that he was going to have the Edmonton Police Service donate several thousand dollars to assist with the start up of this program. I then went to the Constable’s Mess, Sergeant’s Mess, and the Edmonton Police Association after receiving such positive results from the Edmonton Police Service. The Officer's Mess, after learning what the Veterans' Assistance Program was about, immediately made a donation to us.
I went back to the Edmonton Police Service Veteran’s Association and requested their blessing to move forward with the project. They had been appraised during the entire process, but unfortunately, I was met with strong opposition by several members. These members indicated that the EPSVA was a social organization and was not interested in being involved with this new initiative. Therefore, it was only agreed to if it was made a completely separate entity from the EPSVA and was identified under its own name. The largest concern was whether there might be future issues which could potentially have the organization being sued. Therefore, part of the money obtained from Chief Korol was delegated for use to purchase liability insurance so the Veterans' Assistance Program could not be sued.
I placed a request in the Call Box for members who would be willing to serve on the VAP board and everything slowly fell into place. After speaking with retired Superintendent Gary Jones, who I believed would be a perfect fit as the Chairman of the board, he agreed. In short order, we recruited Bruce Hoddinott as Vice Chair, Frans Van Ooyen as Secretary, and Chris Hayden as the Treasurer. Not long after, Dan and Melody Small were contacted about becoming the Service Providers and graciously accepted our call.
Since then, the Veterans' Assistance Program has helped hundreds of Vets and their families. We are moving into the future and now help previous and retired members and their families.
In life, things can rarely be predicted, but for something to happen, all it takes is an idea and the will to do something for someone else.