As a small-town girl living in Northern Saskatchewan, Master Corporal (Retired) Natalie Forcier was initially attracted to the idea of joining the Canadian military because it offered a chance to travel, explore, and of course, serve her country. Little did she know that her time in the military would take her on a 14-year journey of growth and self-discovery.
Her travels took her from Montreal to Winnipeg, to France, and so many places in between.
All the while, Natalie found adventure in the new experiences she was facing on a daily basis, from navigating a big city to meeting her platoon-mates in the gargantuan-sized Mega… a major shift from her small town of 100 people! She spent 10 weeks doing basic training in the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School (CFLRS) in St. Jean-sur-Richelieu.
In 2004, Natalie was posted to a small health-services clinic in Winnipeg, working alongside highly-skilled doctors and learning to treat medical conditions that she had never encountered before.
In 2008 and 2010, Natalie was deployed to Afghanistan, first working at the Primary Care tent in Kandahar Airfield KAF as a Role 3 medic, and working at Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar city as a dismounted or Role 1 medic during her second tour in 2010. During her second tour, she recalls, at 26, being one of the oldest members in her group. Thinking back on that tour, Natalie remembers feeling the pressure of keeping up a facade of being a happy and optimistic person, while on the inside, she was struggling with depression.
“There were times when you’d pick up a stretcher and realize ‘this is too light to be an adult, this is a child’. Those are the moments where it gets tough.”
Natalie fought through mental health challenges following her medical release from the military and was chosen to participate as a Veteran in the True Patriot Love Women’s Expedition to Baffin Island. The first-of-its-kind adventure brought together a group of all-female Veterans and business leaders from across the country as they snowshoed across the Arctic Circle, traversed the Akshayuk Pass, and visited the northern section of the Owl River Valley. Throughout the journey, Natalie gained valuable mentorship from business leaders, which motivated her to start her own business to help Veterans in need.
“Getting out of the military, I felt alone, I felt empty, I felt like this great thing I had done before no longer reflected who I was,” said Forcier. “That’s where True Patriot Love gave me a reason and a cause to do something bigger for myself. It made me realize that I’m not small and I can do great things. Having the business mentors there to help us and guide us along the way was incredible and crucial to keep going.
True Patriot Love inspired Natalie to open the Prairie Veteran Wellness Corp in her hometown of St. Isidore-de-Bellevue, Saskatchewan. With the help of her business partners, the centre is able to provide support to her hometown, with a special focus on Veterans, First Responders, and their families. Natalie has since moved to the Edmonton area, where there is a greater veteran population, and is working to open an integrated clinic for veterans, first responders and their families.
Natalie also collaborates with Can Praxis and the Edmonton Veterans Association Foodbank, aiding in their mission to help Veterans get the help they deserve.
“It’s all these little pieces that you put together to make yourself whole again. True Patriot Love helped me regain my voice, my purpose, and a sense of determination. I don’t feel so small anymore.”
It was their duty to protect us, now it’s our duty to help them. Learn more and donate today at TruePatriotLove.com