Canadian Veteran’s Advocacy Community Rocked By Loss

Sgt.(Ret.) Tyson Bowen lost his battle against PTSD.

Last week had been an incredibly long and unbelievably hellish week, filled with tragedy and sadness and death. For myself, I would say that it began over the weekend of the 3rd and 4th when I saw this video posted by veteran Jeremy McKenzie on Instagram. I knew the moment that I watched it that I would be writing about it because what he says is very powerful and moving, and it should be heard by all.

At this point I still wasn’t sure as to who McKenzie was talking about, however, it wasn’t long before the word began to spread within the advocacy community and I discovered who had been lost.

Sgt.(Ret.) Tyson Bowen

Tyson Bowen, founder of retreat for veterans, passes away

Tyson Bowen created Real Canadian Recreation in rural Pictou County as a place for veterans suffering from PTSD to find healing.

Sgt.(Ret.) Tyson Bowen was only 35 years old when he lost his life, leaving behind a wife and two young daughters. He was a member of the Royal Canadian Regiment and served deployments in Afghanistan in 2007 and again in 2010. He was subsequently diagnosed with PTSD and medically released in 2018.

Following his release, he returned to rural Pictou County Nova Scotia where he had grown up and would go on to found Real Canadian Recreation. It was a place he envisioned would be an eco-friendly sanctuary, where others like him could go to find healing and solace. His efforts were felt within the community where he had become a respected citizen, and his loss has dealt it a devastating blow.

The shocking suddenness.

Courtesy: Stephen Beardwood Facebook

He had been in a group conversation with about a dozen other people in the hours before he took his own life, showing no apparent indications that he was in distress. He was, by all accounts sounding happy during that call, and gave no indications whatsoever that he was feeling depressed or suicidal. Overall it had been a positive meeting following the wrap-up of the second Veterans for Healing Song Camp the day before. Only hours after ending that call, Tyson Bowen’s lifeless body was discovered.

Stephen Beardwood

Stephen Beardwood was one of the people who were in that meeting. For Beardwood and the others who spoke with him in his final hours, word of his death struck like a bolt of lightning out of a clear blue sky. Shock and disbelief initially paralyzed him as his brain struggled to comprehend what it was that he had just heard, as it was subjected to this new and profound psychological trauma. It was still evident when I spoke with him a few days later.

Beardwood, like Tyson Bowen, had attended both songwriting camps in Nova Scotia, and he was at a loss to explain his friend’s sudden passing. He speculates that it may have been that Tyson wasn’t capable of being able to hit the pause button when the thought of suicide once again entered his mind. This often happens to people who were broken in the same way that Tyson was.

Col.(Ret.) Pat Stogran

Pat Stogran attended last year’s songwriting camp. He too was in a state of shock over the passing of Tyson Bowen, going so far as to ask if it was possible that he was murdered because the man he saw last was not one who appeared to be on the brink of suicide.

When I asked him if there was anything that he wanted to say, he sent me this statement:

“The body count for the ineptitude of the chain of command in Operation MEDUSA just went up by one. If anybody is considering joining the Canadian Armed Forces they should understand the risks. No General of Flag Officers have committed suicide, nor have they become advocated for effective veteran care. The military can be a lot of fun until somebody gets hurt! There are better ways of making a living and bringing up a happy healthy family.” I grieve for Tyson’s family. I salute my fallen comrade.”

Col.(Ret.) Pat Stogran

Paying the price.

Yes, the soldier pays the greater part of the bill. His family pays too. They pay it in the same heart-break that he does. As he suffers, they suffer. At nights, as he lay in the trenches and watched shrapnel burst about him, they lay home in their beds and tossed sleeplessly — his father, his mother, his wife, his sisters, his brothers, his sons, and his daughters.

When he returned home minus an eye, or minus a leg or with his mind broken, they suffered too — as much as and even sometimes more than he. Yes, and they, too, contributed their dollars to the profits of the munitions makers and bankers and shipbuilders and the manufacturers and the speculators made. They, too, bought Liberty Bonds and contributed to the profit of the bankers after the Armistice in the hocus-pocus of manipulated Liberty Bond prices.

And even now the families of the wounded men and of the mentally broken and those who never were able to readjust themselves are still suffering and still paying.

War is Hell, Chapter Three – Who Pays the Bills?

The words that Smedley Darlington Butler wrote nearly a century ago ring as true today as they did back then. It is the people like Tyson Bowen and his loved ones who have and are paying the price for somebody else’s war. People like Jeremy McKenzie, Stephen Beardwood, Pat Stogran, and countless others over the years have all paid this price, along with their families.

Nobody cares.

We ask those people who have volunteered to serve their country to do the heavy lifting whenever their government asks them to. Invariably, said heavy lifting is being done in the furtherance of our foreign policy agenda, though far too often it is done in furtherance of corporate agendas.

That being said, it is incumbent upon ALL of us to not only recognize the efforts of those who served and died but to ensure those people receive proper compensation for having been ordered to pay what can only be described as the ultimate price. Many governments over the years have paid our forces and veterans very short shrift, and WE as Canadians and electors owe it to them to demand better from the governments that we elect.

Meritorious Service Cross (Posthumous).

Typically, the individuals recommended for the Meritorious Service Cross have spent a number of years contributing to the community. There are however circumstances where those who may not have spent as long of a time contributing to the community should be recommended, and based on what I have learned about Tyson Bowen and the impact that he had on others, I would like to recommend him posthumously for the Meritorious Service Cross (Civilian).

Meritorious Service Decorations (Civil Division) recognize achievements in any field, from advocacy and health care services to research and humanitarian efforts. Recipients have tackled poverty in their community, improved education opportunities for children in Canada and abroad, or raised awareness of important causes and issues.

Why not nominate someone today? Anyone can do it, and there is no deadline for submissions.

  1. Think of an eligible candidate and tell us why they should receive one of the Meritorious Service Decorations (Civil Division). Be sure to outline the specific deed the candidate has done, for how long and the impact of their work on the community.
  2. Gather your candidate’s contact information to support your nomination.
  3. Gather the names and contact information of three references who can speak to the candidate’s achievements.

In order to complete the application, I will need the names and contact information of three references who can speak to Tyson’s achievements. I would ask anyone who would be able to do this to please contact me by email at so that I can move forward with this as soon as possible.

Help is out there.

If you are thinking about suicide, I beg of you, please pause for just a moment and consider calling someone. Reach out to your local suicide hotline, call a friend or a buddy, or a family member, but please, please, please, remember the permanence that comes with the loss of life. No matter how dark things are, there is always hope in life.

For those of you who have pledged to do a “Buddy Check”, remember to take the time to do so. If you know someone who you feel may be at risk of suicide, take the time to contact them to do a “Buddy Check”, just to make sure they are doing okay and to let them know that you are around if they need you.

Requiescant in pace aeterna.

Stand down Sgt. Bowen, your tour of duty here is done. May you rest in eternal peace.

To Tyson Bowen’s family and many friends, my deepest condolences to you on this most devastating loss. May you all find peace and healing.

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