Veteran helping peers with his podcasts

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A successful Okotoks realtor finds it therapeutic to produce a podcast concerning his PTSD resulting from serving in the Balkan Conflict in the 1990s.

But more importantly, Mark Meincke said his podcast, the Meincke Show Podcast, is helping other veterans.

“The very first one was without fancy cameras, I was going to open up the doors and expose myself with the hopes it would connect with someone,” Meincke said from his Okotoks ReMax Signature Properties office. “I got so many calls saying: ‘Thank-you. That took a lot of balls to do that.’

“It made them feel like they weren’t all alone. I thought there is value there and I am going to keep doing that.”

The Meincke podcast doesn’t deal solely with veterans’ issues. He has also had segments with former Okotoks town councillor Carrie Fischer, Chris Lozanski of Total Health Cannax and with Foothills area business people.

However, many of the approximately 20 podcasts have a veterans’ theme.

The podcasts aren’t an easy view. Meincke starts his latest video with two words: ‘Don’t quit.’

He goes on to talk of how he “keeps going no matter what, mostly for my kids.”

Meincke served in the Canadian military from 1991-1995, which included serving in Croatia in 1994. He joined in 1991 as the Gulf War broke out.

“I wanted to do something significant that mattered, originally I wanted to be a medic but I didn’t get the spot,” he said. “I asked what else do you got and they said ‘infantry.’”

He missed Desert Storm but served with as a UN peacekeeper in Croatia in 1994.

“The entire Balkan engagement was rough for everybody, especially for those who were outside of the wire,” Meincke said.

He explained that every camp was surrounded by razor-wire to keep people from raiding the area.

“That’s your wall,” he said. “Being an infantryman, we spent all of our time outside that protected area — we were always exposed and vulnerable.”

What he was exposed to the Balkans was horrific.

“Genocide was committed, entire villages were wiped out, but the euphemism they cooked up was ‘ethnic cleansing’ — they (governments) made it sound like taking a bath,” he said.

He recalls one assignment in which the peacekeepers camp was in the middle with a Serbians on one side and Croatians on the other.

“We had to stay in this little parking lot because you have to stay on the concrete because it is one of the most heavily mined fields in the planet,” he said. “We had the Croats one side, the Serbs on the other, us in the middle and they wanted to kill each other… We had to do whatever we had to do to stop them from killing each other.”

He got out of the military in 1995, and went on to Grant McEwan College.

It wasn’t until 2016 that he was diagnosed and received help for PTSD — after hitting rock bottom around 2008, losing his job, his first marriage failing, going bankrupt and having suicidal thoughts.

It was his present wife, Tracey McKinnon that urged him to get help.

“I didn’t even know I had it,” Meincke said. “It wasn’t until Tracey basically put a mirror in my face in regards to how I was talking and treating people.

“I had no idea… I reached out to Veterans Affairs, not knowing I had PTSD, but I knew I had
no control.”

He stills has nightmares, but has started to get a complete full night of sleep, in part with the aid of medical marijuana.

And as Remembrance Day nears, the night before the ceremony is always a tough sleep.

“It’s a stressful day, a high anxiety day for me, because I have dead friends, and they are still dying, suicides, it just keeps going,” Meincke said of Nov. 11. “What I didn’t realize at that time, is the sacrifice is forever. We gave something away that we can’t get back. We (veterans) have all sacrificed… Remembrance Day is personal, it means the suffering of people I know… I go there to pay my respects for the people who have fallen.”

He continues to pay his respects through his actions, beyond the podcasts.

He is now part of a peer support group and this week is taking a course in Montreal to become a peer-support group leader for those with PTSD.

To see the latest Meincke Show Podcast dealing with PTSD issues go to

To see the latest Meincke Show Podcast go to

www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xQmjk0mye4&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR3RNESD-QMaMFfxNqj5A0HVIwRkNg1oldEGOY-YSXpTg4AmnvUgDPY1U5w

bcampbell@okotoks.greatwest.ca

 

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