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Airdrie veteran publishes book of poems about PTSD

Local veteran Wayne Federation was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in 2012, but he’s been struggling with symptoms for much longer.
Airdrie resident Wayne Federation has published a book of poetry about PTSD. Federation served 22 years with the Canadian military.

Local veteran Wayne Federation was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in 2012, but he’s been struggling with symptoms for much longer.  The 68-year-old Airdrie resident spent more than two decades as a member of the Canadian Forces, from 1968 until 1990. His military career included two tours in Cyprus, in 1974 and 1984, as part of a United Nations peacekeeping operation following the small island country’s invasion by Turkey.  Like many veterans, the experiences of war took a significant toll on Federation. He said he lived with PTSD symptoms for nearly 40 years before he was officially diagnosed.  “Everything I thought was normal, wasn’t,” he said. “Anger, fear, I have bonding issues, I have anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation.” Once he was back home from Europe, Federation said, loud machinery, sirens, helicopters, crowded rooms and news broadcasts were enough to cause him to panic.  “They can just put me into a spin,” he said. “Remember the Oklahoma bombing? I watched news broadcasts of the bombing and that set me back for about six weeks, because I was subjected to a bombing in Cyprus in 1974.” The sense of dishonour of admitting he was struggling, according to Federation, meant it took several years and even a suicide attempt before he finally sought help. “Veterans and service personnel are very stoic – we don’t want to show any weaknesses,” he said. “So, you’re very quiet about it.” Along with counseling and therapy, one of the things Federation said ultimately helped him manage the trauma was poetry. Following his PTSD diagnosis, he said, he started writing poems and personal vignettes. The pieces focused on his struggles with 15 specific traumas he had identified. “When I woke up at 4 a.m. after a nightmare, or I had too much going on in my mind, I would just start writing,” he said. After 22 years of military service, and a childhood beforehand that included strict parents, Federation said he felt poetry was the one thing that finally gave him a voice. “To me, it’s a form of communication,” he said. “I send off what my thoughts are, and that person reads it.” So, he kept writing. And after five years, Federation had compiled enough poems for an entire book.  That book – PTSD: Poems that Spark Discussion – was published this year. An official launch took place Nov. 3 in Airdrie.  Federation said, for him, putting his innermost thoughts and experiences down on paper was a “way of healing.”  “It takes something out of you,” he said. “When it’s on paper, or when you express your feelings to somebody, it mitigates the anxiety, the fear and the trauma of the experience.  “It’s out there. It’s still within me, but I know how to cope now.” Now that the book is published, Federation said his plan is to gather stories from other veterans for another book. “I want to make this something like, ‘Chicken Soup for the PTSD Soul,’” he said.  For more information on PTSD: Poems that Spark Discussion, visit

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