Today is departure day for the True Patriot Love (TPL) Antarctica Expedition. This is the third expedition of its kind for TPL. The first was in 2013 to Nepal where the team trekked to Everest base camp and then climbed Island Peak. This was shot as a documentary that was aired on CBC TV. The next expedition was in the spring of 2014 and saw the team ski to the magnetic North Pole. This expedition too was shot as a documentary that aired on Shaw on Remembrance Day of 2014.
We are now on our way to Antarctica to climb Mount Vinson; the highest peak in Antarctica. These are special expeditions not only for their challenge and destination, but due to the participants and the cause.
True Patriot Love is a charity that strives to raise funds for ill and injured Canadian soldiers and to bring awareness to the challenges they face when making the transition from military service to civilian life. This series of expeditions serves many purposes for TPL. 1). It is a fund raising platform, 2) It seeks to bring awareness to the cause through media attention and civilian participation, 3) It provides a therapeutic environment and experience for the soldier participants, 4) It provides the soldiers with direct connections in the civilian world and a mentor helping to ease the challenges of their transition, and 5) It educated Canadian business leaders to the challenges the soldiers face when transitioning into the civilian work world, and the skills and resources they can bring to any business.
As a fund raiser the expeditions have been a great success raising well over two million dollars. The civilian participants do the majority of the heavy lifting in this regard and along with raising much needed funds, the civilian participants personally pay for the trip of the soldier so there is no cost to the soldier or to the charity.
With all the media attention, the TV documentaries, the newspaper articles, the TV news reports, and the blogs the expeditions have done a great job educating Canadians as to the challenges our military members face in the service to our country and the aftermath of this service that can greatly impair them physically and mentally for life.
The wilderness environment is an amazingly therapeutic environment. Many past soldier participants have commented that a week of the expedition is worth a year of therapy. There is just something about the fresh air, the challenge, the comradery and the teamwork that helps us to heal.
Aside from their fund raising abilities the civilian team participants are often leaders of Canadian business and have a wealth of experience to share with the soldiers. As part of the expedition each soldier is connected with one of the civilian participants as a mentor. They are there to help in any way throughout the expedition and post expedition as well. Many mentorship relationships have flourished well beyond the expedition and have changed the lives of the soldier and the civilian alike.
Lastly the relationships created on the expedition allow the civilian business leaders to better understand the skills and expertise a former soldier can bring to business. Leadership, project management, strategic planning, and change management are just a few of the critical skills that the soldiers have great experience with.
This 2016 expedition will see this team of soldiers and civilians strive together to reach the top of one of the coldest mountains on earth on the most inhospitable continent on earth. No one person will be the star and all must support one another to succeed in this challenge.
Check back frequently to see how the team is doing.