Sunset truck binoculars hunting
episode 39 | Jan 18, 2021
Personal Growth
Law Enforcement/Military
Hunting & Fishing

Ep. 39: PTSD and Hunting Therapy with Todd Hisey of the Veteran Hunters

In this episode of The Silvercore Podcast, Travis speaks with Todd Hisey, who is the Canadian combat veteran and founder of the Alberta Veteran Hunters that takes veterans and first responders suffering from PTSD and provides them with a positive experience and a supportive group. Todd speaks on his experiences in the military and what lead him to being diagnosed with PTSD, the social stigma of having PTSD, his treatment and his personal advise for others who may be suffering from the same. Todd also explains how The Veteran Hunters got started and the positive impact they are having.
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Travis Bader: I’m Travis Bader and this is The Silvercore Podcast. Join me as I discuss matters related to hunting, fishing, and outdoor pursuits with the people in businesses that comprise of the community. If you’re a new to Silvercore, be sure to check out our website,  where you can learn more about courses, services, and products we offer. As well as how you can join The Silvercore Club, which includes 10 million in North American wide liability insurance, to make sure you are properly covered during your outdoors adventures.

[00:00:43] Today, I’m remotely recording online with Todd Hisey, Canadian combat veteran and founder of Veteran Hunters in Alberta. Veteran Hunters takes veterans and first responders suffering from PTSD and provides them with a positive experience and a supportive group. 

[00:00:58] So Todd, you and I spoke earlier and the value that we’re hoping to bring to our listeners here is we’re hoping to talk about mental health and PTSD from your perspective. Your journey that brought you to the inception of Veteran Hunters and what Veteran Hunters is and does. So Todd, welcome to The Silvercore Podcast. 

Todd Hisey: Travis, thanks for having me on and making time for this important issue with respect to mental health and particular mental health in veterans, and first responders.

Travis Bader: You served in the Canadian military for some time and you’re open a boat suffering from PTSD. Can you tell me a little bit about PTSD? Can you educate me and the listeners about, at least from your perspective, PTSD? 

Todd Hisey: Sure. So I’ll just talk a little bit about my experience and how I ended up getting diagnosed with with PTSD. So I served for a total of 22 years in the Canadian army. Mostly with the First Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, just a little plug for the Patricia’s.

[00:01:59] So yeah, no, graduated the royal military college, served in both the regular rounds reserve army. Like I said, for 22 years, 15 of that on full-time service, served overseas, three times. It was in my Kosovo tour in 1999 that unbeknownst to me that, when I got home, I was actually starting to suffer the early effects of PTSD.

[00:02:22] And then in 2001, I decided to leave the Canadian military and really it was the fight or flight aspects of PTSD that were causing me to have, unbeknownst to me, mental health issues at that time. And I left the Canadian army the first time and the medical system actually in my departure, medical actually knew I had PTSD and actually withheld it from me.

[00:02:53] In fact, wrote in the margins, on my medical records, that I had PTSD where I not getting out, they would have been treating me for it. And then they went so far, is that when I requested copies of my medical records later, they actually redacted those portions, so that I didn’t even know that I had it. 

Travis Bader: Crazy.

Todd Hisey: Yeah. So, and I’m not the only one that’s had this happen to. It’s been, it’s an ongoing issue with the Canadian forces in particular, a lot of issues that came out of the former Yugoslavia where medical conditions or periods of time were actually completely wiped clean of military records, so that’s a whole other story. 

[00:03:35] But in my case, it was my medical records that were kept kind of from me. I got back in 2007, got a letter from the Canadian army, asking me to come back with the war in Afghanistan. Didn’t deploy to Afghanistan largely because they started to, I and others, started to figure out that there was probably something wrong with my mental health at the time.

Travis Bader: Hmm.

Todd Hisey: That started kind of the long process towards a treatment. It was actually a civilian mental health practitioner who was working with soldiers in another practice who was very interested in my military service. And he kind of put two and two together and said, hey, I think you have PTSD.

[00:04:21] And I was like, okay. So he encouraged me to put in an application to Veterans Affairs for some kind of operational stress injury. At that time then the Canadian army didn’t need me anymore. We were winding down from our tours in Afghanistan. So I transitioned to a job with oil and gas in Calgary and ended up getting put into the operational stress injury clinic here in Calgary and was one of the early intakes.

[00:04:49] And they diagnosed me with PTSD and I started the next six and a half years of treatment. In 2014 I was laid off for the oil and gas and that kind of started the big downturn here in Alberta with respect to oil and gas.  But I had a couple of different things that were going on at the same time. So one, I was being treated for my PTSD and in my case, my PTSD didn’t necessarily a result from being shot at. I was in a helicopter in Kosovo, took five, five rounds from a 12.7 up into the belly.

[00:05:22] We’d have little kids that would throw firecrackers at us with, you know, pieces of metal attached to it, et cetera. I previously served in Bosnia and one of the things that I’d been responsible for was doing the intelligence prep for battle going into Kosovo. Which we were sent into an area that had the bulk of the issues relating to the genocides in Kosovo.

[00:05:48] But also one of the things we, for those of us who had already been in the form of Yugoslavia, we kind of had generalized culturally that they were going to be, the Kosovor’s were going to be very similar to the Bosniaks or the Croats or the Serb’s that we, that we had dealt with. And I was sorely sorely mistaken on that one.

[00:06:06] I had actually in preparation to go over, I’d actually found a German officer’s diary and he’d served, in Kosovo and a lot of the issues that he talked about logistically, and then culturally with the locals we actually encountered like decades later. And we ran into all the same issues. 

[00:06:25] So one of the things I found challenging over there was in the 1990s and going into early 2000, the Canadian military or Canadian army was still very, you know, very political, senior leadership was very hesitant to make decisions. You know, we used to have a saying where, you know, a better to be judged by 12 then carried by six. When the reality is, was, it was actually better to be carried by six than to attend, to be judged by 12. 

[00:06:53] And so we had a very gun shy leadership. So when we went into Kosovo, the federal government at the time, the liberal  government had restricted the number of guys that we could take. So we had a battle group of just over 600. Now, when I went in there, I had seven jobs and no staff to do it because of the numbers. 

[00:07:16] So I worked six months, 19 hour days, the five hours that I did get to sleep we’re not a consecutive and so basically when you’re sleep deprived, your ability to make sound mental decisions or your brain’s  ability to cope with stress is greatly reduced.

Travis Bader: Sure. 

Todd Hisey: So couple that with leadership that is not making decisions, my bosses would not make decisions. So really it was left to me and two other captains to pretty much run this battle group. And as a result, we ended up basically getting PTSD as well as our careers ended up getting sacrificed because of it, but it was to do, but we did the right thing, you know?

[00:08:03] So I ain’t, so the attributes of my PTSD is I have issues with authority.  I have issues, so I have anxiety, I have anger management issues. So I could go on.  There’s about six different attributes of PTSD that I have and they classified my PTSD is one of the most severe that they had seen at the time. Plus what made it more severe was that I went, you know, almost 15 years undiagnosed and untreated. 

Travis Bader: Right. 

Todd Hisey: So in 2014, when I got laid off and was in treatment, what I was doing with Veterans Affairs was I was, I’d been in a seven year battle I’ll use those terms appropriately battle with the mid-level management within Veterans Affairs, and then including my member of parliament, Blake Richards, and his staff, they were struggling to try and get into Veterans Affairs to look at, because of my PTSD diagnosis, it was like largely believed that, if I got my PTSD from Kosovo in 99, and I had to release medical in 2001, you know.

Travis Bader: Ahh, that game.

Todd Hisey: Yeah. That game. So should I have been medically released. So long story short, just so happens, a total God thing I tell people, I happened to call into a local radio station here in the Calgary area and Daniel Smith at the time was the host. And she had Kent Hare who was the new minister of Veterans Affairs on there and this was in 2014. 

[00:09:44] So I hadn’t been getting any funding yet from Veterans Affairs, so I’m on air with him and I’m bawling my eyes out. I’d burned through like a hundred thousand dollars of my life savings, trying to support my family and I after getting laid off with oil and gas.

[00:10:00] My treatment was in was in question because I’m trying to find jobs. And he basically, I put him on the spot and he had no choice, but to say, hey, you know what, we’re going to help you. We’re going to go off air, he says, I’m going to give you my executive assistance, phone number, you’re going to call her tomorrow and he says.

Travis Bader: Wow.

Todd Hisey: We’ll take it from there. And really, and he did follow through.

Travis Bader: Wow. 

Todd Hisey: He ended up organizing a meeting with the current Minister of National Defence. Interesting enough, we served together in Bosnia. Himself, my member of parliament and then he, basically told a bunch of generals to go on redact my medical files and they had a meeting in Ottawa and it basically, it was a holy crap, when they saw what was written. 

[00:10:43] And it was basically flood gates opened up, you know, put me in a rehabilitation or retraining program. At the time, put me on the earnings loss program, they were likely facing a massive lawsuit if they didn’t do something. But that was a lengthy battle, that took seven years to get to that moment.

Travis Bader: And that doesn’t help PTSD.

Todd Hisey: No it doesn’t. And that’s one of the issues and we can talk about that a little bit more when we talk about specifically about the Veteran Hunters. But you know, a lot of guys are not in a frame of mind to be able to deal with a massive bureaucracy that is Veterans Affairs.

Travis Bader: Right. 

Todd Hisey: And I had, and I worked briefly for Parks Canada for about three months. That was in an attempt for Veterans Affairs for me to see if I could get reintegrated back into the workplace. And my boss there had been a director in Veterans Affairs for coming over to Parks Canada. And she told me, she said, you know, the issue was middle-management and Veterans Affairs is that right?

[00:11:47] So Veterans Affairs is completely managed out of Prince Edward Island and it’s staffed by people in Prince Edward Islands. So she goes, the issue is, is that the people from PEI who have jobs with VAC, look at the issues and go, well, I have 20 years to resolve this issue because they just look at it as a job.

Travis Bader: [00:12:12] Right. 

Todd Hisey: [00:12:14] But a veteran, we don’t have 20 years. 

Travis Bader: No, you don’t.

Todd Hisey: Some of us might not be here next week, let alone 20 years from now and we have families and different things. And so it was when I saw that, I was like, Whoa, you know, that’s why some of us take seven years dealing with these guys and or, you know, I have other injuries, you know, like being in the infantry is really, it’s like playing on a pro football team without padding.

Travis Bader: Mhmm. 

Todd Hisey: That’s what I tell people. And we suffer like, you know, I tore my lisfranc ligament, and if you look that up, that’s a common NFL injury that’s usually a casting for eight weeks. Well, I wrapped it with a tensor bandage and took a bottle of aspirin and kept going. And that resulted in the knee left knee and hip issues. And I went to three hearings on those, but was successful. 

[00:13:07] So one of the things that I found was good was all of these struggles that I went through really helps me relate with veterans. Cause I’ve gone through many cases, it’s taken me longer and through more challenges to get the benefits that I have today.

[00:13:30] And so that puts me in a position where, when I’m working one-on-one with veterans or talking to guys through our social media or we’re just happen to be out hunting with the Veteran Hunters. It helps me better relate with guys and then and I hope my experiences are able to encourage other guys. So that they go well, you know, Todd went through way more than what I’m currently going through so hopefully we can inspire and encourage other veterans to just stick with the fight. 

[00:14:04] Suicide has been a huge issue. I know, I talk to my American counterparts and we’ve got a really good relationship with a group like us out of like the Veteran Hunters out of Oregon. I mean, they were seeing 22 a day. Now, we’re not seeing those numbers up here, but at one point we were seeing probably four to five a week. 

Travis Bader: Geez. 

Todd Hisey: One of my hunter hosts, he’s one of the few guys still alive from his platoon in Afghanistan. Those that didn’t die in Afghanistan have taken their lives here.

Travis Bader: Well before we go too far into the advent of Veteran Hunters and looking at you as a role model for other people to be able to take their lead. You mentioned a lot of things here and there’s.

Todd Hisey: Sorry, yeah. I know it’s a huge topic and I’m trying to keep it specific to me, but yeah.

Travis Bader: It’s massive and I gotta, maybe I’ll just jump right into this question as you’re going through that. It’s very clear to me that you’ve said this before, and you’ve told us before. And tone, the pitch, the verbal, the pair of verbal, there are instances of activation that, that you can see as you’re going through it.

[00:15:25] The areas that are going to be more difficult to talk about. Do you find it’s like going down a dirt road where you end up wearing some ruts in it and the more you go down that same road, the more you keep going to those same ruts. And you start ingraining the same sort of physical and psychophysiological responses to what you’re talking about. Like, is it difficult to go through and talk about this over and over again? 

Todd Hisey: Well, in some ways yes and in some ways no. So I mean, while we’ve been talking about this, so I’ve been having like mental flashbacks to all of the conversations and all the incidences. 

Travis Bader: Right.

Todd Hisey: Of everything about it. But one of the things I’ve learned is that, you know, so the whole time I’m talking about it and we’re doing this interview, I’m also self-talking. So in the back of my mind, I’m telling myself, you know what, it’s okay. Like, I know why I’m feeling these ways, but you know, the benefits outweigh the negative feelings I’m have. 

[00:16:27] Like, you know, if I can encourage and inspire and help and serve others, then that’s better then, you know, for half hour or so interview, I can endure that and then decompress afterwards. 

Travis Bader: You mentioned that at the beginning there you three times overseas, 2001 left the military, but you said that you can look back now and see that at one point you were suffering the early effects of PTSD. 

Todd Hisey: Yes. 

Travis Bader: At the time you probably didn’t recognize it and maybe somebody.

Todd Hisey: No.

Travis Bader: Listening to this podcast might be going through something similar and not recognize it. Would you be willing to identify some of those early effects of PTSD that with the benefit of hindsight, you’re able to. 

Todd Hisey: Sure. One of the things, one of the things I used to call it was passionate frustration. 

Travis Bader: I like that term.

Todd Hisey: Yeah. And cause I’ve  always been, one of the things that’s always frustrated me is that, as a leader is when the organization does not allow it to reach its maximum potential because usually senior leaders are in the way. So for me, in our recall, you know, having that passionate frustration was one of the early signs of having PTSD and really that’s a combination of, I’ll try and break it down into sentiments. So, anxiety, fight or flight, there’s a lot of anger, anger and frustration in there.

[00:18:05] So when I was working in the civilian sector from 2001 till 2007, I either left organizations by choice or were laid off. Sometimes I didn’t stay with an organization for very long, and that was also one of the indicators when I was doing the intake for the operational stress injury clinic here. Was, you know, how many jobs did you have in a given period of time? So I think, trying to remember now, but you know, I’ve worked for almost every oil and gas producer in the oil sands.

Travis Bader: If you were to know then what you know now, when you first saw those early signs, what advice would you give to somebody. What advice would you give yourself? 

Todd Hisey: My dad told me when I was getting out. He’s like, you know, well what are you going to do? And I was getting out without even a plan. I just wanted out.

Travis Bader: Right. 

Todd Hisey: And so my advice to you or any of your listeners would be, take a deep breath and stay in, don’t leave out of anger or frustration. And I know that it’s hard because if you’re early onset, it’s hard. Cause all you want to do is just, it’s just get out, get away. I mean, for five years, I couldn’t even stand to look at a uniform and then I went and then we go into Afghanistan and then one day in August, 2006 for soldiers, I used to serve that I used to serve with died in one day.

[00:19:42] And that just changed, now I wanted back again. Yeah, you know what, just be patient, seek help, find the right people to talk to. And I didn’t, when I think back now, I went to different people to try and get advice, but their careers had already been, their careers were already over. So there were guys in JTF2, that I knew.

[00:20:06] And those are guys that I should have been talking to who are still serving and we’re having good careers. In fact, we were at bowling and spending time together and my wife’s  actually related to one of the guys that was serving at the time. And those were the guys I should have been talking to and looking for some advice, not looking at older guys whose careers were now over.

[00:20:30] So I would say be patient, take a deep breath, try and get the medical system onside for you. And then reach out to guys whose careers are still moving forward and who you can trust. And that’s one of the things I think back now, and even my wife, we were talking about it last week on our kind of on our date night.

[00:20:52] Was that like, she even agreed. She was like, yeah, why didn’t we, we sat down was a couple all the time, like one was her cousin. And I’m like, yeah, I don’t know why I didn’t even like talk to him. And, cause he could have probably helped me out better than any of the other officers that I was talking to. So anyhow, I mean, hindsight’s 2020.

Travis Bader: Of course. But being able to share that with others can be helpful for sure. 

Todd Hisey: Yeah. 

Travis Bader: Now, and I’m just speculating here a little bit, but.

Todd Hisey: Yep. 

Travis Bader: Mental health has a social stigma attached to it. I mean, there.

Todd Hisey: Yes.

Travis Bader: Unfortunately, it does and people look at mental health as a bad thing. And you’d mentioned that I was at the lithfranc tendon? Is that what you called it? 

Todd Hisey: Yeah, the lisfranc. Yeah. 

Travis Bader: Okay. So you’d injured your lisfranc tendon and if you were to go into a doctor and have them take a look at you, a doctor could probably diagnose that there’s a procedure for being able to look at them.

Todd Hisey: Yeah, simple Xray and yeah.

Travis Bader: Right. And you were saying what, six to eight weeks, put it in a cast and.

Todd Hisey:  Yep.

Travis Bader: There we go. We know the process in order to be able to deal with an injury like that. And if left unabated, it will develop into other things like knee and hip problems like it did in you. 

Todd Hisey: Sure.

Travis Bader: Different people with different genetic makeups will, maybe they’re more heavy set and they’re going to need a little bit longer before they could put weight on it or maybe there, but these are all variables that we know about. And it’s easy to look at. 

[00:22:32] With mental health, it seems that since there is this level of unknown, which is actually starting to get narrowed down, I mean they’re learning more and more about how to quantitatively and qualitatively define the mental health. But since it’s sort of this more nebulous sort of thing, it seems that, I don’t know and I’m just speaking from observation here.

[00:22:59] But one of two things happen either A. I people will look at it and be dismissive of it because they say, oh, I can’t be anything, I can’t see the issue right. Or B. somebody who is suffering from mental illness may look at themselves as bad or wrong or something that needs to be fixed as opposed to this being a natural response, a natural, psychological and physiological response to a stressor in a life. Just like the lisfranc tendon being injured from too much stress or injury, however it happened. And with that, I don’t know. It can become.

Todd Hisey: Yeah. I mean, you make a great analogy there and I’ll just carry with it. 

Travis Bader: Sure.

Todd Hisey: So with the  lisfranc there’s, yeah an x-ray shows it, and there’s a standard course of treatment, but if it doesn’t get treated, then there’s consequences and mental health injuries like your brain. So the issue is, people see a cast on an arm or on a leg or, and that injury is totally obvious, right? Well, we don’t physically see mental health injuries. We see the consequences of it, we can see tremors or even while we’re chatting and you probably watch, I fidget.

Travis Bader: Sure.

Todd Hisey: My wife gets nauseous all the time cause I have one leg that just constantly moves and it’s funny, and it’s from all the shooting and training that I do.

Travis Bader: Sure. 

Todd Hisey: If we’re watching a TV show and guys are shooting, I don’t even notice it, but by muscles are still flinching, like I’m shooting in the show and she totally notices it. And she’s been awesome. You know, I’ve given her over the years, lots of cause to leave and a lot of guys do and she hasn’t. And I thank God for that.

Travis Bader: That’s massive.

Todd Hisey: And I thank her and she’s been a really key to my treatment. So I’ll back up a little bit, so just like the lisfranc, not getting  properly treated, and I ended up with left knee and hip issues. Well, with your PTSD not getting treated, then you end up with, so I have irritable bowel, I have, oh trying to think all the other consequences. So veteran’s affairs has a number of, I think, 6 -10 other illnesses that you can get just by having PTSD. I mean, if your civilian doctor does the paperwork for it, they like, yup.

[00:25:50] It’s in that list of 6 to 10 that we know, because guys like me have slogged in the trenches going through this and they’ve made a lot of mistakes and you know what, I don’t fault the people that, that helped treat me, in the six and a half years. I mean, I was part of the plan, that was part of the plan that Todd Hisey was going back to the civilian workforce and that didn’t work out and we can, we’ll talk about that in a bit.

[00:26:19] So yeah, I mean mental health injuries aren’t usually seen. My mom saw me as a different person when I came home from Kosovo. I mean she knew me, she knew me pre Kosovo, my wife and I had been dating before going to Kosovo. But I mean your family is the one who knows you the best right? So my mom actually was, played a role in talking to Veterans Affairs case management because she knew baseline Todd Hisey.

[00:26:50] My wife knew PTSD Todd and we were talking about consequences too, you know, I raised three kids being undiagnosed with PTSD. So all three of them unfortunately, whether it’s, they’re still doing studies to determine whether there’s genetics to PTSD, but nurture versus nature.

[00:27:14] Each one of them have a couple attributes of my PTSD and one of the things I will say is the treatment that I ever received from Veterans Affairs, with respect to treating my PTSD is far and away superior to anything you will see in a provincial mental health system. It is absolutely.

Travis Bader: Really?

Todd Hisey: Disgusting.

Travis Bader: Really?

Todd Hisey: Our provincial mental health programs, especially here in Alberta. I’ve seen, cause Veterans Affairs didn’t have much to give for my family. So a lot of what my kids got, their treatment was in the public system and it is absolutely disgusting. In fact, I personally know more about trauma treatment and therapy than the people being paid to do trauma treatment and therapy.

Travis Bader: I believe that.

Todd Hisey: And it’s funny, I could feel that like right in my chest, it’s like, Oh my, I could feel that more than talking about Kosovo because it just really, it’s just really bothersome about it. So, I know veterans who I’ve hunted with, complain about Veterans Affairs and then, but I also have the privilege of being able to see the provincial public system. 

[00:28:37] And I’m like, hey man, count yourself lucky that you did not get stuck in the provincial mental health system. I mean, when I first started, I was seeing a therapist twice a week. I went six and a half years of treatment, that’s like, unheard of. 

Travis Bader: Wow. 

Todd Hisey: Like you do that, figure out the dollars and cents that Veterans Affairs had to pay to get me to a point where I could run a non-for-profit organization. 

Travis Bader: Sure. 

Todd Hisey: And host guys for 75 days. Now, do I get burnout? Yeah, sure. And we’ll talk about that too.

Travis Bader: Well, one thing that I’ve noticed and you brought up a really interesting point and you’re bringing up a whole bunch of points and I’ll apologize for interrupting, but I want to make sure we can. 

Todd Hisey: No it’s all good, yeah, yeah, no. 

Travis Bader: Yeah. I want to make sure we touch on some of these points because I think they’re important. So you mentioned about the nature and nurture.

Todd Hisey: Yep.

Travis Bader: And your children having different symptoms of PTSD and from everyone’s different, everyone’s going to have different carriers for a logical or emotional or cognitive resilience as that’ll allow them to react to stressors differently.

Todd Hisey: Yep.

Travis Bader: But historically speaking PTSD was something that people looked at as well, it’s shell shock or, it was under the DSM4, I think as a general anxiety disorder, DSM5 a few years ago, they brought it into its own new category and it’s more, what the stressor related trauma and stressor related disorders.

[00:30:23] And it’s constantly evolving. And the criteria being a cluster disorder, cause it affects there’s a numerous, it’s not just one thing, it’s not just hey, I’ve got a broken bone, right? It’s got all these different parts. You got your stressor. And then from what I understand, we’re looking at recurring thoughts, avoidance, hyper arousal, and you start putting all these things together and they say, Hey, let’s call that PTSD.

[00:30:52] The fact that it’s being taken outside of just those who are in the military or first responders or in these hugely traumatic situations I find interesting. And I also find it interesting the response from some. I was talking with a friend of mine a couple of days ago, an American individual, his family is all in the military. 

[00:31:17] His brother’s best friend’s a seal and diagnosed with PTSD now my friend’s wife was in a horrific car accident and brain injury, few other things, but she was diagnosed with PTSD. And when this Navy seal fellow heard about this, he lost it. He’s like, how the hell does she have PTSD from this car accident?

[00:31:42] And she hasn’t seen the horrors that I’ve seen. And I guess it comes down to the perception of what PTSD is. And it’s constantly changing, I guess to some degree, with the lack of understanding, there’s going to be a level of ownership that people take over it. They maybe wear it, and instead of being, Hey, I’m Bob with the broken foot, no one would say that. 

[00:32:08] But they will say, Hey, there’s Bob with PTSD and I think that adds to the social stigma associated with PTSD. Cause personally, I think it’s a very natural thing. I think it’s absolutely natural for somebody who’s gone through the things that you’ve gone through to have the same physiological and psychological response. And it’s evident in the fact that lots of other people go through the exact same thing as well. 

Todd Hisey: Yeah. And you know, and I really feel for some of those people, like for civilians, because they ended up having some of the same issues that we do and they don’t have the same support structure that those of us who were served in the military or are first responders.

[00:32:55] And like I said, I’ve seen the civilian side because of my kids, or because of other family that have had to go through this, the public health system in Canada. When I was going through early treatment for PTSD and it’s part of like my, one of the things they tell you in therapy is you start to change how you react or look at things right. 

[00:33:22] So I used to, I used to get angry at civilians in the workplace because they’d freak out if the photocopier stopped working, like to them that was absolutely the worst day ever. And I was like, seriously, it’s not life or death, you’re not being shot at like, you know, seriously. And I found actually getting shot at was both exhilarating and terrifying at the same moment. So you’re like cool I’m getting shot at, holy crap I’m getting shot at.

Travis Bader: Right.

Todd Hisey: But then it was started, you get to you flip that upside down and like, yeah for most civilians, the worst day in their life is gonna be when that photocopier doesn’t work, when they they’re five minutes from doing a presentation because, one they’re not trained the same as we are.

[00:34:08] It wouldn’t have prepared, they’re waiting till the last minute to make those photocopies rather than planning well an ahead and all those times. So they’re just not, they just don’t see the world the same way we do because, Hey, I’ve been been in the army since I was 19. 

[00:34:26] So my brain, so one of the things they found too, like for those of us who joined 18, 19, our brains are still adapting and molding so by 25, your human brain doesn’t really start solidifying itself till it’s about age 25. 

Travis Bader: Right. And my dad used to say, you don’t grow a brain until you’re about 25. 

Todd Hisey: Yeah. So for a lot of us who have served in the military, especially guys on the pointy end of the spear and you learn to be hyper-vigilant and you’ve been trained that way since, you know, you’re like 18. MY sons are joining the army reserves and I got one who’s probably gonna join when he’s 16. 

[00:35:05] So when you start training kids that are 16, 17, 18, and you’re training them a certain way and you’re teaching them to be on, it’s, and they’re on all the time until they’re 25 and then their brain is just, it’s just stuck that way. It’s hard because the army doesn’t train you to integrate back into society. We train you to integrate into the military.

Travis Bader: Right. 

Todd Hisey: But we don’t train you to reintegrate back into society and how to integrate, to deal with deal with civilians and interact with them. that also for veterans and first responders that’s that could be a trigger to just having to deal with people that just don’t think or get it, like we do. So, but yeah.

Travis Bader: I guess where I was sort of going with the perception of PTSD and what causes PTSD and how this seal can be upset because somebody else is in a car accident and they haven’t seen the same sort of things. I would have to imagine that with that perception, it can be difficult for those in the military and those that have served to come forward with issues of PTSD if they personally look at their situation maybe not as bad as the JTF2 fellows situation or. 

[00:36:30] You know, I was in some stuff, but I shouldn’t complain because this person seems fine and they’re in a whole bunch, a whole lot worse than I was. And I think just, well I guess I’ll just ask. Do you find that, is that something that you see that people would be embarrassed or afraid to come out because they don’t feel that their level of experience meets a threshold for PTSD or what they feel PTSD is?

Todd Hisey: Yeah. You know, and I know guys today who have hunted with us who are hesitant to still put in a claim with Veterans Affairs for mental health, because they’re like, well there’s other guys that need it more than me.

[00:37:10] You know what, like seriously put it in, let the medical practitioners be the ones who make the final decision whether or not you need to be needed to be treated. That’s one of the reasons why I talk so candidly, and as much as I can about my own PTSD, it’s really just to encourage other guys to come forward.

[00:37:30] It’s not a stigma, it’s something that happened. And for me, I wouldn’t be in a situation to be able to serve soldiers again with the Veteran Hunters had I not got the PTSD that I did get. I look back and look at the journey, so, yeah they redacted my files and yeah, I went through seven years in this kind of stuff, but it set me up to be in a perfect situation to be able to have these discussions, to encourage and inspire others, to start an organization like the Veteran Hunters, and then really relate to guys.

[00:38:06] Yeah. I didn’t, you know, I wasn’t downrange in Afghanistan, but I served in the former Yugoslavia and just as a note, the actually the guys who served in the former Yugoslavia, we are the largest group of veterans that are currently being treated. You can go on a VAC’s site, like we’re in the tens of thousands of guys.

[00:38:31] In 2017, there were about 7,500 Afghan veterans that were being treated for PTSD and they were a fraction of the overall guys getting treated. And based on my experience, it takes a guy about five to eight years before they actually are in getting treated, because it there’s that journey where you have to get to the right frame of mind where you’re able to to seek and accept help and  treatment

[00:39:03] Cause a lot of guys like me, like in 2001, I wouldn’t have been ready for treatment. I would’ve been like, no, I don’t have PTSD. And it would probably would have triggered me more and made me more angry. It would have actually given the mental health practitioners more ammunition to say, yes, you do.

[00:39:19] Because the more I resist it, but in 2012, I was definitely in a place where I wanted to get better and wanted to get treatment. The unfortunate part is, you know, you know, I wasn’t the best father or husband for that first 13 years before I started getting treatment. And so when I think about that, that can really depress me, but I don’t want to go, I don’t like to go there. 

[00:39:45] I kind of look at the here and now, and I spend a lot of time with my kids and, heck I don’t know too many kids that can say they’d been to Africa hunting with their dad, like twice. 

Travis Bader: No kidding. 

Todd Hisey: Yeah. And I mean, I have kids that have like top 50, top 100, SCI animals. 

Travis Bader: Holy crow.

Todd Hisey: Yeah. I always had a passion to go to Africa and I’m one of these guys that’s like, I’m not going to Africa when I’m 70. So I put a little bit of money, put a little bit of money aside that I had received from Veterans Affairs and took my whole family. And we spent three weeks in South Africa and the outfitter that I hunted with Rob Birch, Royal Crew Safaris, they’re a sponsor of the Veteran Hunters. 

[00:40:22] He’s become a great friend and we’re like family and yeah, no it’s great. Actually our animals from the last trip are probably getting shipped this week, only about a year and a half behind schedule. 

Travis Bader: That’s fantastic. 

Todd Hisey: Yeah. So yeah, so I try and make up for the past, in the present. 

Travis Bader: Have you ever read the book, mans search for meaning? Or heard of it? 

Todd Hisey: No. 

Travis Bader: You just made an interesting comment and it was a book, it’s an old book. It’s translated in a bunch of different languages, but you said, if not for my experience, I would not be in a position to help others. And I like that. I mean that’s a really positive way to frame what’s happened and really change, essentially, the way that you’re looking at things and change the way that you will respond to it. Is that conscious? 

Todd Hisey: You know, I think it’s part of the other side of treatments and therapy where you’re kind of, and I was fortunate that with part of my treatment, you know, I was able to do a master’s degree. So I did a master’s of science in international construction management, because when I’ve been in oil and gas, I’d been doing a lot of project to maintenance management as well. So they were looking for ways to build on my existing civilian resume and get me back in the workforce.

[00:41:48] So it was one of those things. But with that, I had to do a dissertation and I did, went on a landmark study on leadership styles of project and construction managers in the oil sands. And did a bunch of surveys and did some comparative analysis for other regions in the world that were  heavy on project and construction management.

[00:42:11] And one of the things that I found was, why I struggled in the oil sands was, man my leadership style did not fit the prominent style that’s used in oil and gas in Alberta. So they use a total authoritarian style. 

Travis Bader: Right.

Todd Hisey: So they bounce off between authoritarian or Laissez-faire, depending on how politically sensitive the decision is, whereas I use a servant leadership style. So basically I think from there just started building more introspective and I was able to start thinking more about how I fit in, you know.

Travis Bader: Your purpose. 

Todd Hisey: Am I here for, yeah.

Travis Bader: Yeah.

Todd Hisey: So and that was one of the things that I struggled with, you know, when you can’t soldier anymore, it’s like, what’s your purpose? Cause as guys, you know, we don’t look at the meat, the real meaning is, we’re fathers and husbands, right. That should mean a lot to us, but unfortunately we’re guys and we’re like, what do you do? And even in the army it’s like okay, are you regular army?

[00:43:19] Are you a special forces guy? Or, and then the regular army, you’re like, Oh, do you have jump wings? And all that kind of stuff. It’s like, we try and compare ourselves based on who we are and what we’ve done. And then when you can’t do it anymore, it’s like.

Travis Bader: Then who are you? 

Todd Hisey: Yeah. Who am I? What’s my meaning, my purpose.

Travis Bader: Right. 

Todd Hisey: And I found meaning and purpose again, when I started hunting again. And I found that when I got into archery that had started reinforcing the mindfulness techniques and the grounding techniques. And then when I coupled that with the hunting piece, bow hunting is hard.

[00:43:58] And I choose to make it even harder for myself. I spot and stalk with bow. So now I’m having to use all the skills that the army taught me to hunt a human being, which if you’ve hunted animals with bow spot and stalk. Man hunting humans is way easier than hunting, the smartest mule deer or elk or a white tail or stuff like that.

[00:44:21] And so I remember one season I broke my collarbone in the summertime, mountain biking with my boys, and then I was bow hunting that fall with a broken collarbone. So really it was just looking for things to work on. Cause I knew I couldn’t make a long bow shot given the broken collarbone.

[00:44:46] So I worked really on my stalking and really, I stalked this mule deer buck for an hour and a half and came face-to-face with him. And for me, that was it, that was awesome. Cause I knew if I’d been healthy and you were bigger, than I was in a position to take you. So in my own mind, what that was meaning and purpose. I was able to use those skills that I’d learned, I still had it, as a soldier, that I could still do this stuff and, it’s.

Travis Bader: Good point.

Todd Hisey: It’s funny, I found actually I’m going to Africa for a hunt was actually really, I was nearing the end of my treatment and found that it’s going to Africa was a really good way to kind of close the books on my PTSD, my ability to shoot and to soldier and because where I hunt in Africa, it’s spot and stalk with rifle and bow. And it’s five guys in a Jeep, so you’re out early morning and so it’s kind of like being in the army and you’re in rugged train and you’re making, in some cases, making long shots and that kind of stuff.

[00:45:58] So again, for me, it was like just reinforcing the positive things that I liked about the army and then you reinforce like success. I remembered the last shot I made to the first time I went to Africa, it was a 300 metre shot on sticks, 642 feet, different elevation and an animal running uphill, passing another animal. And I hit him in the vitals and then put a.

Travis Bader: Wow.

Todd Hisey: Second round of broke and broke his femur. 

Travis Bader: Right. 

Todd Hisey: And I was like, done. Like that’s, I don’t know if I could make that shot again today but.

Travis Bader: I’ll take it. 

Todd Hisey: Yeah. You know what, at that time to drop that kudu, the way that we did was, yeah.

Travis Bader: That’s impressive.

Todd Hisey: I was elated. Yeah. I was elated. And it just proved that no I still, though I’m not wearing uniform anymore, I still have what it takes to soldier. 

Travis Bader: Have you seen the short video? I think Sitka put it out, called a place of peace. 

Todd Hisey: Yes. Yeah. That’s a great, totally resonates with me. That’s a great piece that they did. 

Travis Bader: I’ll put a link to it in the podcast and on the YouTube here so that other people listening can watch that. But when you’re talking there, that just kind of came to mind. You mentioned something about brain development and being about 25 when the brain starts fully coagulating and solidifying and into something and you talked about the brain being stuck. 

[00:47:29] And from some of the reading and research I’ve done, people are talking about neural plasticity and the fact that the brain can basically create new neural pathways and it’s something that’s being used for PTSD. And I guess when we talk about being able to take an x-ray and there it is, you can see the broken bone, but it’s not as self-evident in a mental health injury. 

[00:47:57] They’re finding that essentially three main parts of the brain are being affected the amygdala where your emotions are affected your hippocampus or your memory is. And your prefrontal cortex or planning, cognitive functions, short-term memory, all of these sorts of things kind of take place. 

[00:48:15] I think looking at that and knowing a little bit about some of the new techniques that people are dealing with, do you think that really a person’s brain is stuck at 25? Let’s say they’ve got the PTSD and greened them at that point. Are they stuck or do you think they’re able to find proper function and enjoy through, whether it’s sort of a cognitive based therapy or some sort of a mixture of medications and different types of talk therapy? Or do you think it’s just something that that’s going to be cemented in? 

Todd Hisey: Well, I think, I mean the trauma piece is cemented in, or the hyper-vigilance piece is probably cemented in. 

Travis Bader: Okay. 

Todd Hisey: And there’s a part of it that where, the day I broke my collarbone was like the best day ever. And so for those of us, who’ve been like trained to deal with the emergency situation, so a lot of us, like we don’t, our PTSD doesn’t prevent us from handling an emergency situation. Like an active shooter or dealing with a medical emergency or that kind of stuff. 

Travis Bader: Sure.

Todd Hisey: Actually, it actually drives.

Travis Bader: You thrive.

Todd Hisey: The opposite. We thrive. 

Travis Bader: Cause.

Todd Hisey: That’s the best.

Travis Bader: Your outside matches your inside. What’s happening outside matches what’s going on in your head. 

Todd Hisey: Right. So that’s the best drug piece ever.

Travis Bader: Right.

Todd Hisey: The problem is, is that. You can’t live that way right. Even though your brain loves that you can’t live that way. So I’ll try and answer this as best as I can and succinctly. So for me, one of the things I think anybody with PTSD, if they’re in a position where they’re willing to get better, can. I’ll speak from my own personal perspective. So for me, we looked at it from a holistic standpoint. So yes, I had talk therapy, I did EMDR.

Travis Bader: Right. 

Todd Hisey: Was the therapy that worked for me, not the light bar, but my therapist using his hand up and down.

Travis Bader: The finger back and forth and.

Todd Hisey: Yeah.

Travis Bader: And just for the listeners who are, might not be familiar with it, that’s, you can do tapping, you can do an eye light bar going back and forth, tracking a finger, but essentially it’s taking from the hippocampus a long-term memory and you’re recalling it as a short term memory, and you’re essentially fuzzing it out by looking back and forth really quickly or tapping really quickly. And that would be an accurate description right? You’re taking the emotional impact out of the memory. 

Todd Hisey: Yep. 

Travis Bader: Okay.

Todd Hisey: And then, so we’re talking about, we’ve got the talk therapy in there. We’ve got the EMDR, drug therapy. So finding the right, so I’m on three different meds, the rest of my life. And for some guys, the meds aren’t their thing and they find other things, but I’m just talking about my own personal. So I felt, physical fitness.

Travis Bader: Right.

Todd Hisey: Staying active.

Travis Bader: Right.

Todd Hisey: And because I mean, our brains, my brain got injured in Kosovo because I was sleep deprived. So actually I have permanent insomnia as a consequence to my PTSD. So I actually wake up every day, more tired than I was when I fell asleep. 

Travis Bader: Geez.

Todd Hisey: So for me, morning hunts are really hard. 

Travis Bader: No kidding.

Todd Hisey: But so yeah, and then a good sleep and a good social network. So I had no veteran buddies, at all when I was going through treatment. I had no mentoring at all. I knew nobody else at the OSI clinic that I was going through, there was no group. It was me,  my wife, my parents, our church, that was kinda my social network.

Travis Bader: Right. 

Todd Hisey: Yeah. So that was kind of like, those multiple factors and you have to, it’s something you have to work at. 

Travis Bader: Yeah, it’s like, you can’t go to the gym and try and work out with a trainer and expect to be fit if you don’t put the reps in. 

Todd Hisey: Right. And there are some guys out there that are stuck in a rut with their PTSD because they just can’t get the tire out of the hole.

Travis Bader: Right.

Todd Hisey: And I feel for those guys and one of the things that the Veteran Hunters is really helping guys overcome that anxiety. Because that indicted piece really can rob you of having a very fruitful and productive life. I’m 48 years old and I got a lot more years to go and I love hunting with guys. Most of the guys that I, that I take out hunting are 10 to 15 years younger than me and this old guy is just pounding them into the dirt. So that’s awesome. So I can still ruck with the rest with the best of them. 

Travis Bader: That’s awesome. Well, want to talk about Veteran Hunters, how it got started? 

Todd Hisey: Sure. So I started looking around and found in Canada, there was no hunting organizations that focused on veterans and dealing with mental health and that kind of stuff. But there were lots of guys in the US. In fact I connected with one guy in Oregon in particular, 22 outdoors is the organization in Oregon. And hopefully, big picture, long down the road, we’re able to do a joint hunt, whether here in Alberta or in Montana.

Travis Bader: Well that’d be cool.

Todd Hisey:  For elk. Yeah. It’s kind of something he and I have talked about kind of big picture down the road. So just threw the dice, put it out there and came up with the term Veteran Hunters. So one, I mean, I like kind of using plays on playing on words, having kind of worked with the media and stuff in the past. 

Travis Bader: Yeah.

Todd Hisey: We’re veterans and we’re hunting, but we’re also hunting for veterans. We’re trying to find guys to connect with and to get into the organization and find out about the organization and that kind of stuff.

Travis Bader: Right.

Todd Hisey: So there’s a little bit of duology there. So, started the Veteran Hunter’s got the website up and running self self-funded for the first year, connected with the right guys on social media who helped get us some exposure. We did a snow goose hunt that first year in 19, and then it kind of just snowballed from there. And by the end of 2019 we’d facilitated activities for over 50 guys. 

[00:54:58] We had been talking to sponsors throughout the year, in particular Vortex Canada, who came on board right away at the beginning of this year. They’ve been a great sponsor, Reg Wells, one of their field reps, he served in Croatia with the RCR, was injured himself. So, I mean, so there’s some personal things there when you look when you’re looking for sponsors, right? So if you’ve got veterans inside another organization that are able to vouch for you too, it helps. 

[00:55:28] But they’ve been really generous with us this year and there are still people out there and I won’t name organizations, but there are organizations out there that are paid to support veterans who market their products using the veteran name. 

Travis Bader: Okay. 

Todd Hisey: But do not agree that veterans with PTSD should be hunting or using firearms. 

Travis Bader: Okay. 

Todd Hisey: Yes. So.

Travis Bader: Interesting.

Todd Hisey: I’m running into those challenges. 

Travis Bader: Yeah. That’s gotta be difficult. 

Todd Hisey: Yeah. 

Travis Bader: And you just kinda have to wash your hands with that one cause I could see that being one of the things that could bring in, what was the term you use? The passionate frustration. 

Todd Hisey: Oh yeah. I can feel it inside myself, especially when you got on the record. Like, I did a podcast with a psychologist from the operational stress injury clinic saying we are doing, what we’re doing is exactly what some veterans need. 

Travis Bader: Right. 

Todd Hisey: Every veteran.

Travis Bader: Some.

Todd Hisey:  First responder. Yeah. I mean.

Travis Bader: Not all.

Todd Hisey: We were a gap.

Travis Bader: Right.

Todd Hisey: There’s two groups doing fishing in Canada and we’re the only ones doing hunting.

Travis Bader: Right. 

Todd Hisey: We’re the only organization of our kind and we’re a national organization this year. So I have volunteers in BC, I have volunteers in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and I mean, majority of our hunts are here in Alberta and we’ve actually had, we had guys fly out from Ontario.

Travis Bader: Wow.

Todd Hisey: To hunt elk this year. We had a guy last year fly out from Ontario to hunt because actually, we found out like, we can actually bring veterans here into Alberta for really reasonable rate with what we’re doing.

Travis Bader: Right. 

Todd Hisey: So we’re not an outfitter, have a great relationship with the Outfitters Association, but we’re a hunter hosts. So back to your initial question, so, what we do is every year I sit down with the various hunter hosts and I’ll probably, I’m going to bring on a few more guys next year. And, we basically we’ll sit down for a day, probably this year it’ll be on a zoom call or something like that and we’ll hammer out kind of the hunting schedules tentatively, especially the spring ones, we’ll try and get them up right away. 

[00:57:42] So if a veteran is out there, if actually, if you were to Google Veteran Hunter or Veteran Hunters, we’re probably the number one Google search to come up. So that makes it easy. 

Travis Bader: Yeah. 

Todd Hisey: You go on there and you’ll find you’ll scroll down and you’ll look at our calendar. And really, we’ll post all of their dates and those are the dates that our hunter hosts, put up and say, Hey, I’m willing and able to take a guy for this period, in this locale, for this specific animal. And really it’s connecting with the organization, which would be me ,by email and I try and talk to every veteran that connects with our organization. We’ve got over 500 now on our Facebook group, so if I don’t get back to you right away, it’s nothing personal, it’s just, I’m a busy guy.

Travis Bader:  Just one man.

Todd Hisey: Just one man, yeah. So it’s just one man and you know what, I’m a father with teenagers and I’m married and I’ve got, this is supposed to be a side thing, right? Not my full-time. So that’s the whole work-life balance piece. 

Travis Bader: So veteran would pay their own way, come on out, be set up with somebody from the organization. 

Todd Hisey: Yep.

Travis Bader: And when you guys go out, they’ve got the opportunity to connect with somebody else who may have similar life experiences and maybe in a better place than they are, and able to help them navigate from where they are now, to someplace better. Is that essentially the crux? 

Todd Hisey: Yeah, that’s essentially it. Yeah. Basically you contact us, tell us what you’re interested for dates, we’ll connect to you. Get yourself here and we’ll take care of it. We’ll take care of the rest. If you need accommodations, we’ll sort that out for you at a reasonable cost.

Travis Bader: And essentially, they’ve got a hunting buddy, but not just any hunting buddy, somebody who’s, receptivity helpful.

Todd Hisey: Right. Who’s walked in their shoes.

Travis Bader: Right. 

Todd Hisey: I use these analogies, I mean, one of the things about veterans hunting with veterans or veterans hunting with like first responders that kinda stuff, there are a lot of first responders are veterans themselves, they just transitioned from the army into the being a policeman officer or paramedic or firefighter. It’s just, it’s similar work, but just different, but similar stresses. Is, when you’re hunting, you wake up in the morning and everyone pulls out their Ziplock bags with their meds.

[01:00:09] We all kind of laugh and look at each other and it’s like, there’s a level of comfort, right? You’re not having to explain anything, everybody knows you’re at. We talked about like having irritable bowel. Well, when you when I pull over the truck, the three other guys in the truck probably have to go at the same time. So we’re all laughing about this. So it’s funny that you talking about being candid.

Travis Bader: Sure.

Todd Hisey: Like I’m totally candid.

Travis Bader: Totally.

Todd Hisey: Because you know, it is just.

Travis Bader:  Is what it is. 

Todd Hisey: It is what it is, right. And so it’s awesome. And when you’re hunting with guys and the guy looks at you, or I look at a guy and I go, Hey man, no stress, like you let me know when you’re ready to go, I’m going to grab another cup of coffee. You want one? 

Travis Bader: Yup. 

Todd Hisey: And when you’re ready, we’ll go hunt. And one of the, a good friend of mine and former co-host on my podcast, Bryce, he talked, he calls it windshield therapy. To and from the hunt you’re talking to a guy and you’re sharing your experiences and we’ve had one of the guys who flew out here last year and he got his PTSD from the Swiss air disaster. He was in the Navy and having to clean that up for three weeks. Well, he couldn’t fly for 12 years and the first time he got on an airplane was to fly out here and hunt with us. 

Travis Bader: Wow.

Todd Hisey: And it actually was, he flew on the anniversary of the Swiss air disaster, but for him, coming out here to Alberta for the first time and pursuing elk with a backpack was more important than, he just wanted to experience that.

Travis Bader: Good for him. 

Todd Hisey: And we did a podcast with Damon when he was here and then one a couple of weeks later when he went home and actually we’ve stayed good friends and I was talking to him yesterday. And yeah, the lasting and lingering effect, positive effects of coming out and participating in the hunt is huge. And he was going on, they were doing a family trip to Costa Rica and he was starting to get kind of the anxiety from flying on another airplane and I said, Hey man, go back and listen to your podcasts, listen to your own voice, telling you. 

Travis Bader: Right. 

Todd Hisey: How therapeutic it was. He was like, Oh yeah, that’s what a great idea. So that’s why I encourage guys, I say, check out our website, look at the hunts. There’s 35 podcasts from last year where we talked to countless veterans. They talk about their own post-traumatic stress story, they talk about where they are now and the successes and the segway in.

[01:02:40] And that’s one of the things we’re going to, we’ve focused on with the Veteran Hunters show that’s going to Sportsman’s channel is every episode we’re looking at a veteran or a first responder. They’ll talk about their journey, but their success today. So we’ve got veterans who have their own businesses, they’ve overcome their PTSD and have their own businesses.

Travis Bader: Right. 

Todd Hisey: Or they’re like me and they’re running another nonprofit organization that’s trying to help first responders. Just to help people, encourage people. And then one of the episodes will be about me, and it’s kind of mine I think, is going to be a bit of a compilation. It’s got to go to the editors still, but mine will probably be a compilation showing how, for me, it’s therapeutic serving the other guys.

Travis Bader: Right. 

Todd Hisey: Having been a former officer and it’s funny you liked my tagline on my cell phone.

Travis Bader: I saw that yeah. 

Todd Hisey: So in order to be a leader, you must first be a servant.

Travis Bader: Right. 

Todd Hisey: And so, and I truly believe that, and it’s all that kind of from the adage, know your men and promote their welfare. So I get therapy by running the organization, helping out guys and there’s countless guys who put up testimonials and we try and track those as many cause sponsors love to see  that stuff.

[01:04:03] Just talking about the benefits. This year we put activities on for over 75 guys this year. And we’ll probably by the end of the hunting season, who’s still got some special elk season’s going on here in Alberta, so we’ll probably have put it on a combined like 190 days of hunting this year.

Travis Bader: Wow.

Todd Hisey: Yeah and.

Travis Bader: That’s impressive.

Todd Hisey: That’s kind of that’s yeah, and that’s a capacity I think, for where we’re at right now. So we need to kind of grow the organization a little bit more and that’s great, you know, by bringing on a guy like Jeff, to look after they’ll do the whole sponsorship piece cause that can be a full-time job. Looking for organizations to help us with gifts in kind or dollars to help the operations.

Travis Bader: Well, is there anything else we should be talking about? Anything that you think we should be getting out there before we start looking at wrapping up here? 

Todd Hisey: I think it’s just letting other veterans, first responders know, you know what, you’re not alone. There are over 500 people on our Facebook group, there’s countless guides and ladies the last couple of years that have hunted with our organization or that I’ve spoken with, just encouraging you to push through the anxiety. Don’t let it rob you of your life, both physically and mentally. You know, don’t let the demons win.

[01:05:33] When we were all in training, we would push through the demons and finish that ruck march, or we would push through the struggles overseas or push through anything to, to survive and to get home. And now that we are at home, continue to push and push through the struggles because that’s what made us who we are as soldiers.

[01:05:54] And don’t lose the battle here at home, continue to fight, and you’re not alone. Connects with us. You know, we brought on a chaplain this year, one of the pastors from our church came on this year and he’s available. You can connect with him through our website and if not, they can shoot me an email as well, or connect with us through Facebook and we can help you with that mental health piece or the peer support piece.

[01:06:18] You know, I’ve talked to every person, every veteran that’s connected with us and it’s been good because there’s guys I know that I can’t put together because it’ll trigger each other. But that’s another learning too, is that not all veterans can be with each other.

Travis Bader: Right.

Todd Hisey: Because of their overseas experiences. So that’s why I talked to everybody that wants to hunt with the organization, just to know where they’re at. And if you want to hunt with this too, we’ll, we send you, we developed a forum this year that has some personal questions, but it just helps us better prepare ourselves and you, to hunt with us.

Travis Bader: Todd, thank you very much for being on The Silvercore Podcast. I’m really impressed with what you’ve done so far. I’m really excited to see where Veteran Hunters is going to be going in the future. And I’m very happy to be able to assist you with your endeavour in any way we can. Thank you. 

Todd Hisey: Thanks Travis, appreciate it.

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