Jim Lowther spent 15-years in the Canadian Armed Forces. After several tours overseas, Lowther was diagnosed with a PTSI in 2002, which he attributes to his tours of duty. After he was seriously injured by a fall from a ladder in 2003, his military career ended. However, Lowther still wanted to help in some way, so he began volunteering at St. Andrews United Church in Halifax, NS. It was there his eyes were opened to the world of homelessness amongst Veterans.
Being a Veteran himself, he and his wife, Deb Lowther, decided they wanted to find a way to help homeless and in-crisis Veterans. Together, they created Veterans’ Emergency Transition Services (VETS) Canada. To date, they’ve been able to assist nearly 4,000 of those Veterans.
Lowther wanted to find a way to reach out to even more homeless and in-crisis Veterans, nationally, so three years ago, they created the VETS Canada Tour of Duty. On June 9, 2018, at 1 p.m., VETS Canada volunteers will put their “boots on the ground,” visiting homeless shelters, libraries and drop-in centres, trying to raise awareness.
“We do this anyway with VETS Canada. That’s our thing. We actually are a proactive, organization charity, so we do this once a month in all of our locations across the country,” said Lowther. “I thought that it might be a really great way to raise awareness if we did all of our cities and provinces across the country on one day, at the same time.”
When the Tour of Duty started three years ago, they managed to get 13 Canadian cities on board and 17 cities in the second year. This year, Lowther said they have 21 confirmed cities so far, along with three other cities still yet to confirm.
“I just thought that it would be a great way to raise awareness nationally on this issue of Veterans who are not doing so great, who are not having a successful transition from the military,” said Lowther. “This is for all Canadians to understand what our Veterans are facing out there and it’s to definitely raise awareness about Veterans issues.”
VETS Canada runs on the hard work of volunteers and Lowther said they’re always looking for donations to help continue their work for homeless and in-crisis Veterans.
If you would like to learn more about VETS Canada and how you can help, the Tour of Duty or to donate, you can visit their website here.