When Russ Lee joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1999, he never imagined that he’d suffer from PTSD or become a champion for mental health — but that’s exactly what happened.
Fast forward to 2019 and Lee is camped outside of Fire Station No. 1 in Leduc, raising money for the Legacy Place Society. The organization provides assistance to first responders, military veterans, 911 operators and their families who may be suffering through a wide range of mental health problems, including suicide and marital breakdown.
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“When I returned from Kandahar, (Afghanistan), I quickly realized that something wasn’t right and I started to slide down that rabbit hole of depression and anxiety and was later diagnosed with PTSD,” Lee recalled.
He now wants other first responders and veterans to know that they’re not alone in their struggle.
“I took a lot of time of and was able to fight that battle, take control of it and learn about the disorder,” he said. “Now, I spread the message that you can overcome this.”
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On Sunday, Lee was just two days into a week-long camp-out at the fire station, with the goal of raising $15,000 for Operation Legacy. He plans to donate 100 per cent of the funds raised to the organization.
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“It’s important for me to spread the word, and the easiest way I can do that is by speaking out,” Lee said. “The response I’m getting from the public, from friends and family, is what’s keeping me going, keeping me motivated.”
Lee is inviting people to drop by and visit him. He’ll be camped out until noon on March 1.