Chris Linford recently retired from the Canadian Armed Forces following a distinguished 25 year career. He joined as a Nursing Officer in 1988 and has deployed on several domestic operations as well as three operational tours overseas to the Gulf War, Rwanda and Kandahar Afghanistan. He transitioned to a Health Services Operations Officer in 2000 and went on to command 1 Field Ambulance in Edmonton from 2007-2009 and was the Executive Officer deployed with the NATO Role 3 Combat Hospital in Afghanistan from 2009-2010. Chris was originally diagnosed with PTSD in 2004 – 10 years post Rwanda. He knew he had it, but was at a loss for what to do. He fought the stigma. Eventually the illness led him to insomnia.
Finally, he sought medical care. He underwent therapy and was put on medication while receiving treatment with the Canadian Forces. After a year and a half he thought he had beaten it. He was able to continue his military career and eventually go on to command medical units, as well as deploy again to Kandahar to be the Executive Officer (XO) of the NATO Role 3 Combat Surgical Hospital. While deployed in Afghanistan his PTSD returned.
Chris again hid it from his fellow military members, because he wanted to finish his tour of duty. Upon his return home, his wife Kathryn – who herself had received help for her exposure to Chris’ PTSD – was heavily involved in helping him through his treatment. PTSD is an ongoing battle for Chris and although it’s still triggered at times, he is now able to manage the stress and anxiousness when it hits. Chris acknowledges that PTSD can take a fearful toll, with many veterans losing their families, and some committing suicide. He is grateful his wife and children stuck by him as he struggled.
Chris penned his first book Warrior Rising: A Soldiers Journey to PTSD and Back in 2013. A very personal and inspirational story, the book recounts his road to a diagnosis of PTSD after three operational deployments to the Gulf War, Rwanda, and Kandahar, Afghanistan In 2014, Chris became a national ambassador for Wounded Warriors Canada.
In addition to representing the organization at various events around the country, he brings education and awareness to the public regarding PTSD. Chris and Kathryn continue to speak to veterans and families about the impact of PTSD on the military family.