Stories of Healing with Pat Stogran
As our Stories of Healing series comes to an end, we where left with a “Rude Awakening” when Retired Colonel, Canada’s First ever Ombudsman, and Author of Rude Awakening: The Governments Secret War Against Canada’s Veterans, Pat Stogran stopped by.
Inside of this episode:
↣ We discussed his PTSD diagnosis that he believes stems from a tour in Bosnia ↣ How plant based medicine is helping him to deal with trauma and his new mission: Himself. ↣ Pat’s Leaderology leadership style, and what he believes makes for a great leader. ↣ The unfortunate side of being an Ombudsman and the cruel way he believes the Canadian government treats it’s Veterans
↣ The importance of family, community and support
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Connect with Guest:
Interview with Colonel Pat Stogran
Leanne: Hey, jean jacket club, Cal, get yours!
Pat Stogran: Oh, you’re the first people who’ve approved them. The jean jacket?
Calla: Isn’t that the Canadian tuxedo? You dressed up for us, Pat. I appreciate it.
Pat Stogran: Yeah, my best bib and Tucker.
Calla: We both read Rude Awakening, and we’ve been so excited to talk to you. So thank you.
Pat Stogran: Oh, my pleasure. Yeah, I used to do a lot of this, but not so much anymore.
Calla: Well, we’re glad that you are here with us. Your history is so impressive to me. I love how bold and tenacious you are and that you’re not afraid to disrupt things. That’s a quality I like in a human.
Pat Stogran: Thank you.
Calla: Yes, sir. Who is Pat today? Let’s start there.
Pat Stogran: Ah, Pat Stogran is trying to be a retired grandfather. But, Pat Stogran is a very disillusioned Canadian right now. I am trying to set an example for my grandchildren or grandchild and the people I interact with. So yeah, I think that’s who I am.
Calla: Has it been an adjustment to become the man that you are currently with the history that you’ve had?
Pat Stogran: It’s been terrible. I’m totally disillusioned in Canada.
Totally disillusioned by Canadians and what we like to think we stand for. I had a lot of fun here and in my career. I’ve met some brilliant people and did what I thought was my service to my country. But, then, after a career, of what I would say were huge sacrifices by myself and my family. Now granted, I say, I loved it. I stayed in the military because I was enjoying it. But in retrospect, it took a huge toll on my family. And, you know, the pandemic, to me, is kind of the crowning moment in a series of failures of our government that came to my consciousness. From my experience, which was the high watermark of my career when I commanded troops in Afghanistan, thinking we were doing something great for humankind. And we did nothing, and we butchered 1000s of Canadians, and the people of Kandahar are going to suffer big time now. And especially the interpreters we work with. So yeah, I am in a bad place right now. That’s why I’m smoking pot and taking therapy.
Leanne: Yeah, you’re doing the right thing to get yourself out of it, that’s for sure.
Pat Stogran: Well, you know, you got to pick your battles. And the pandemic has demonstrated to me that. For ten years now, I’ve been developing this concept I call Leaderology. I was going to get into podcasting. I did the Leaderology Lab, which I wanted to try and get interaction and I was feeling around at it. To build a scenario: As you probably read in my history. I was in an enclave in Bosnia, called Goražde, as our military observer while the Serbs lay siege to it. So today, I see the people of Gaza in the same situation that we were in last year, or that I was in with the people of the city of Goražde in Bosnia. And in those days, I’ll tell you this anecdote. So proud to be a peacekeeper, so proud to be fighting for peace as an ideal. I was the senior non-military observer in the pocket, and I believed in what Canada stood for in those times. It’s ironic because I witnessed the first NATO fighter aircraft that was dropped by hostile fire that took place. NATO actually saved the day because they were embarrassed by losing a British Sea Harrier to serve fire, that they delivered an ultimatum that, ultimately, the Serbs adhered to. But I was there to witness NATO’s first hostile Act and the retribution for it. And then I was part of NATO’s charging to Kandahar. It’s interesting that back in the day, NATO was defending Muslims. And today, we’re killing Muslims were part of the problem. So what I thought was a huge step for Canada in 2002, to step into that great game and do it in a Canadian way. I was so proud to be a part of it. But you know, we had a string of politicians who say Canadians don’t cut and run, and a whole bunch of young people believe them and were butchered. And we lost the war in Afghanistan. So all these generals now in this F*CK Fest, they call National Defense Headquarters. They were the planners. They were the architects, as the Minister of a defeat for Canadians. So when I was in the military, I was a vocal opponent to the way we were conducting operations. And I actually saw my opportunity to leave gracefully by becoming the Veterans’ Ombudsman because the Canadian Forces was dysfunctional, just following the American lead, catering to political imperatives of the government of the day. So I bowed out professionally and walked over to Veteran Affairs to be the Ombudsman. The Minister gave me carte blanche. He just said you have the moral authority to do whatever you have to tell veterans. So I did. And I found out that our government is knowingly cheating veterans. And we found out recently that they’ve been withholding money knowingly for over ten years from some people. They’re knowingly cheating and robbing your children who went to Afghanistan to have their lives destroyed. I had a three-year term in it, and when it was clear that I was supposed just to be marking time, I decided to go on a revolution modeling revolution will take on the Canadian government.
Calla: True badass.
Pat Stogran: No, no, I think there’s something wrong with me mentally. I was diagnosed with PTSD from my time in Bosnia. Interestingly, the only reason the Goražde crisis was abated was because I could hear on BBC World Service that the UN and General Sir Michael Rose were denying that there was a crisis in Goražde. “Goražde is calm,” they would say while I’m watching these people be butchered in the street from direct fire, tanks, and artillery. At the time, I was fucked up because of the betrayal. Because of the betrayal within Canada. Member of Parliament struck straw I marched myself in to see him. He was a reformed party at the time. And when I came back, and I said, you know, Canada’s at war, and we’re losing because of the UN, like, why don’t we as a nation embrace this because we could really change it. I’ve never talked to a stupid man and Chuck straw except for perhaps Greg Thompson, the Minister of the day. He knew nothing about world affairs. And those are the kinds of leaders we hire to do very complex, very volatile, and dangerous things on our behalf. So I go over to Veteran Affairs as the Ombudsman and see that the generals wouldn’t even go to bat for these troops are being butchered in Afghanistan. I was gobsmacked. You know, I thought that as an officer, my chances of being wounded or killed by hostile fire were slim to none, especially as a battalion commander because that would mean they’d have to get through 1000 gunfighters before they got to me. I was untouchable. So I felt the moral obligation to put my career on the line. It’s the least I can do see, and I’m starting to get passionate there. I think our government betrayed our troops with the mefloquine fiasco. Time and time again, they betrayed our troops.
And notwithstanding that John Vance, the ASCO fiasco, I couldn’t believe that Canadians couldn’t see that institution is absolutely bankrupt, that their current affairs were dysfunctional. But then it got worse because, remember, we had the First Nations barricades just before the pandemic. And as Veterans Ombudsman, because many of the veterans being cheated were First Nations. I found out just how badly we treat First Nation people and Métis and the Inuit. I was disgusted by it. It was one failure after another that I faced. It was completely demoralizing.
When the pandemic came, I had the Leaderology Lab, and I said, “Finally, this is going to kick enough Canadians in the ass to say enough is enough,” And no, the herd is too flipping stupid. The RCMP don’t get their men anymore. Health Canada has killed all sorts of Canadians needlessly. Let me expound on this because I was well-versed in nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons in my military training. And I’m recorded on my podcast from the early stages of this pandemic, saying, This is stupid. We got to close the borders. We’ve got to treat this like a military operation if we’re going to save lives. And not only did our civilian leadership fail us, but General Rick Hillier was part of the team here in Ontario, and it was a joke. So that’s where I am today.
I try to salvage what dignity I can from my career because I only did proud things, and I’m proud that I fell on my sword for the troops. I’ve never asked any other Canadian to be a whistleblower because guaranteed; you’re going to fail. You cannot bet against the house and expect to win. So all of these idiots in politics, these cults, as I call them, just like the military cult, like anybody that blindly follows the leader and can’t look outside the box and say, Hey, we’re failing the people of Canada. They’re in a cult. They’re blindly obedient to the leader of that organization, for whatever reason. And that’s been my message. I’ve pulled back now. What I want to do is be a role model for my grandson. And I hope to impart to him some of the wisdom that I learned the hard way. I’m very lucky, I’ve got a strong family. My wife was a residential surgeon major throughout my career. She let me have 30 years of outstanding self-actualization being a soldier, only to be let down at the end. But thankfully, my family is still together. And thankfully, because of my notoriety, Veteran Affairs looks after me, I almost feel guilty. I know there are some very hard cases who, you know, even paperwork to my paperwork, I have more paperwork. Now. These things that just came naturally in the military, and I just, maybe it’s the connection to the government that, you know, my taxes and stuff I don’t know, but I, I don’t feel sorry for myself, because I have the strong family. But I empathize first person singular with the troops who are having a rough time.
Leanne: How do you channel that disappointment and frustration that you’ve been through and are living with now? How do you sit with that but still heal past it and hope for a better future for these veterans?
Pat Stogran: That’s the gazillion-dollar question. No, I don’t know. I haven’t mastered it yet. I’m on a path. My initial path was through booze and anger. And, and I mean, anger, anger, like there was no anger management, it was rage and overuse of alcohol. I always thought I was a happy drunk. But that’s just because I didn’t remember what I was like. I thought blackouts meant to pass out, and I was always proud, I could hold my liquor. What I didn’t realize was that a blackout is you didn’t remember punching “so and so,” or you didn’t remember getting punched by “so and so.” Or, you know, all the average things that happened to so many of our troops. And I talked about it not because I’m particularly proud of it, but because it’s a reality. And I only discovered.
Well, I shouldn’t say I only discovered I was diagnosed with PTSD after my tour in Bosnia. And there was such a stigma applied to it. I was a major at the time and, you know, a little bit headstrong, and I told my doctor, if they put PTSD on the paper, they’d never see me again. And yeah, I’m the reason I got a Veteran Affairs to respond as I had an injury in Bosnia. I’ve got chronic back pains. So my wife knew that we were coming to this dreaded lump sum thing and told me to apply for my back while there was still a pension. Being a simple soldier, I put it off because soldiers don’t want to think about that. I keep emphasizing that connection because many soldiers lost. I didn’t know because of the strength of my wife. She kept badgering me to put in a claim before 2004; they denied my claim for my back, but they said, “Hey, we looked through your medical file, and you got PTSD, my friend,” so they awarded me for my PTSD which I find that ironic because they kind of were proactive with my file, which to me proves they could be if they can do it.
Leanne: While at the same time saying no to your claim for your back, though. It’s not all good news.
Pat Stogran: I just came back from physio this morning. And thankfully, the pot like I stumbled on to the efficacy of marijuana, because I was Veterans Ombudsman and I was meeting troops and parents who said, “Pot saved my son’s life.” Yeah, just that boldface. One doctor whose son had served in Afghanistan started prescribing cannabis because it was such a miracle cure for his son. So, I tried it, and I liked it. And it got me off my dependency on alcohol. It has allowed me the mental space to think, you know, just that time between stimulus and response, I was able to think a little bit. This is where I met Fabian Henry, he reached out to me, interestingly, and I had heard of the legend of Fabian Henry. He’s so genuine, you know, like, I’ve had tons I’ve had 1000s of people come to me with what they’re going to do for veterans. And can I help them? No, a lot. And Fabian never asked me for my help. I witnessed the people that he was helping with his preaching about cannabis and his four pillars. And I’m just living that in parallel. I was doing my own experimentation.
Leanne: Can we hear about that, Pat? You said that you were in tandem discovering your own pillars for what helped you? What did that look like for you?
Pat Stogran: Oh, what did that look like for me? What I did was I retrenched on my family. And because I had a strong family and I knew I had to be there for them. And I knew I couldn’t help them. And so for the first years, I was off public speaking, I was at political rallies driving, but my solid base was my family, and my kids were at a time where they were starting in their careers, and I knew I had to be here for them. My son was going through university and getting into the workforce and had really strange working hours. So I took that upon myself to be a duty driver kind of thing. And you know, it was my loyalty kind of kicking in. I was loyal to the country, and the country let me down. It was my family. And again, a lot of soldiers don’t have that not because their families don’t love them. But because their families can’t read, you relate, can’t click, you know? So my healing started because I felt an obligation despite my injuries to soldier on because there is still a fight, and that’s the family. I was operating very much on the remote control, lots of alcohol, drinking with the vets and commiserating, and things like that, and then I was introduced to marijuana. And what that does is it gives you the breathing space. I’ve studied the science. I’m nothing like Fabian, but I’ve certainly talked at length on both sides. I’m intrigued by that. Leaderology, by the way, was my theory on why leadership fails, people.
People have written bags about leadership. And we all you know, we’re experts in leadership, then tell me something. Why is it that we failed our kids? I’m about to join the old brigade at RMC. So, I think in 2025, we go through this great ceremony at RMC and march through the gates and don’t listen. So we’re starting to plan that now. Or they are, and I joined the group and started talking about policy on the chat thing. So I came up, and I said, “Guys, you know, I thought I was at a Leadership Academy when I went to the Military College.” And I said, “We are the first generation now whose offspring don’t have the hope that we had for a prosperous future. You know, we’re the first ones, and how can we be proud of the leadership legacy of our generation?” So that was the premise that I use to develop Leaderology. There are all sorts of psychological and neurological reasons why society is exploding, and it does so every 100 or so years. We’re into that right now, and we should be trying to come out of it better off. That’s the Leaderology idea because a leader makes sacrifices for the long term. And there are reasons why humans don’t do that. You No humans, empathy is a line of Don’t let anybody tell you any differently. Empathy is a line of sight quality. So when your politician talks about whatever resonates in your heart as if they are a first-person that has resonated with you, there’s no empathy that people have to understand that empathy is the soldiers around you, your trench mate. And it’s the same thing in civil society. I have become a proponent of community. Turn your community into a kingdom because that will protect you from pandemics and epidemics, you know, If you know who belongs in your community. We’ve got to get back to the family. I call them now “Leaderology family command teams” that the husband and wife are like, commanding officer and regimental Sergeant Major, you know? When their roles flip, I always refer to my wife as regimental Sergeant Major, because when I came home, throughout my career, I had my tasks, you know because I didn’t want to disrupt right, I’m in the unit that she built, and thankfully, that worked for us. Because when I started having my problems, the family carried me.
Leanne: Well, that’s beautiful.
Calla: Yeah, that is a full circle. You talked earlier about the red tape that veterans come up against and how a lot of them abandon their claims out of sheer frustration with the process and how you fell into that too. Can you talk about some of the red tape you came up against in your career as an Ombudsman?
Pat Stogran: Well, you know, my own experience, when we first made a claim, back 20 years ago, I was getting into my uniform ready to go over work or coming home and was received this brick of documents from Veteran Affairs with the first two pages of reference and read the first paragraph pursuant to reference a through whatever and all this and this, and that’s bullshit if you’ve been denied that threw it on, you know, can’t be bothered, I go to war to fight, and my wife went through all the references, my wife went cross-checked at all. And you know, not every wife has the capacity to do that. They’re either, you know, about four kids or five jobs or whatever. So that’s where it started. You know, my wife said, No, no, according to this reference, all you have to do is say, and I don’t even remember the process. But she stated, you know, I retired, I’ve never paid rent. I’ve never cooked a meal. I knew nothing about finances. I had to learn my first Christmas after retirement. My daughter got me because I was all of a sudden, you know, no longer just a trooper doing what the regimental Sergeant Major was telling me. I was becoming a residential search major, and I had to cook, and I was doing the cleaning. And I had to learn that from scratch because I’d been completely like, the books you see behind me here, this is, you know, I studied, I wanted to go to war, I was going to win Canada’s next war. That’s why I’ll be so disappointed when I saw we were going to fail. We were going to have our asses handed to us by our enemies. I wrote this paper called “The Primer on the Insurgency in Canada” or something. And I gave it to Minister Thompson. I said, Well, I’m a civilian now, you know, and this is how I feel about the war. I thought maybe he’d discuss it with his colleagues and go back to d&d and say, What the fuck are you guys doing over there?
You know, it sounds like a mass because it was a mass. We were just following the Americans. The Americans had an extensive report. Remember, the Snowden leaks? Or was it that other Soldiers who leaked the fact that the generals in Afghanistan didn’t know what the fuck they were doing? Well, I’ll tell you something. Our generals were following them. You know, Wayne Eyre is a graduate of American War College. Wayne Eyre is a grad served in, I think, one Armored Corps, the Chief of Defense Staff. So we’re very American, except we’re not in a winning war. Well, I guess the Americans aren’t right. But you know, when you don’t have the support, when you don’t have the command and control, you can’t get anywhere, and we have no command and control starting right from our Prime Minister’s through two, and it’s all there. Okay, there’s my first rant where I have no idea where it came from.
Leanne: red tape, red tape, red tape.
Pat Stogran: So yeah, the red tape was a big bugbear of mine as the Veterans Ombudsman, and I’ll say something like the frontline troops in Veteran Affairs. They knew they were failing their clients. You know, if they would, I had as many town halls with employees and Veteran Affairs as I did with veterans, and I have to say, for the last year, I was on the road every week. So I was talking to Veteran Affairs across the country. And I would always get pulled into a cubicle quietly saying, you know, I’ve been here 30 years, and it’s disgraceful how we’re failing our Afghanistan, people, like, I wasn’t creating this. And then when I was called before the Senate and, and the disgraced Pamela Wallin said to me, “You know, we know you’d like to throw money all over the place, but I just can’t believe that we would treat our veterans the way you’re treating them, or that you say we’re treating them.” I looked at General Dallaire, and I said, “So why are you asking me? Have the people in here…”
Calla: yeah, they’re willing to talk
Pat Stogran: But that’s not a game they play. It’s like the sexual misconduct revelations that are happening now. You know, there was a credible. I was shocked by Deschamp’s inquiry. There was a credible inquiry, and I think she was the chief justice, Madame Deschamp, who came and said it’s a misogynistic mess in the military. I thought that’s not my military, is it? I know John Vance, and every General knew that was not an ethical man. They knew just as much as I did because I never got my star. I was a colonel, and I knew John Vance. They’re all a party to that. But when the chain of command failed the victims, here was this report that, as I said, it shocked me, but I would have implemented it. I was doing my podcast. I mocked up honor as a farce coming from John Vance. I was public with it. Check my Facebook leak.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to pick these things out like the Mercedes Stevenson cub reporter; they broke this story. They’ve been sitting on the story for five years. All those players, they’re part of the system. They’re playing us. So when your command and control are broken, the rest of the organization will, you know, we’ll react accordingly. Now, we’re so taking it to the political level. And now I’ve seen you know; our RCMP don’t get there. Man. I’ve gone down the list Health Canada has failed every Canadian. And do you think we’re going to have a royal commission like they’re having in the UK? Do you think we’re going to have a public inquiry into what went wrong on this pandemic? Because I can say right from the get-go. You’re sitting there shaking your head, young lady? Shame on you because it’s your fault. We’ve got to stop. If I could get people to become violent, I would over this because there are people in our society who are dying today, in the First Nations, and for you to shake your head. This is why I say empathy is a line of sight thing. You know, I know you feel terrible, I feel terrible. But you’re not as empathetic to the plight of our first nations as you would be to your own child.
Calla: I agree with you on that. Don’t get me wrong. I’m shaking my head because I’m just in disbelief.
Pat Stogran: You know, what you have to do? All you have to do is call bullshit with your politicians. But what do we do? We jump to the seal bait. We retrench on one side of the other. Oh, you know, one side wants to deploy the army to borders. If you can’t defend our borders, what good’s an army? Do you have any idea what that entails? No, but this is what the politicians want us to do. Jump up that seal bait. We should instead be saying to our politicians, “Fix it.” If you haven’t fixed it in four years, you’re being replaced. So the reason why I’m coming on to you not so much to poison our relationship. But people, it’s the people listening to the podcast, you know, who are out of harm’s way right now, and they can think about it. No, you’ve got to start demanding results from your politicians. Whether it’s in education, any of these things. Oh, I was going to add this one. I want to get back to what the government does. Okay. Op honor was a failure in the military. What did they do? They bring in the big guns. Louise Arbour is going to tell us what’s wrong now. They’re not going to fix it.
Louise Arbour is going to come up with a study about sexual misconduct in the military. She’s probably going to have recommendations, and it’ll likely follow the exact same course that the Deschamps commission came on to it. So it’s incumbent on us civilians, not the military people who have to follow the orders. But you with children and everybody else has just to call bullshit and hold them accountable for results, just like an employer would hold an employee accountable for results. Now, there’s a novel concept. Like, you know, you didn’t finish your report this month. Oh, yeah. Well, we’ll do a study, and I’ll get back to you next month on how I could do it better. No, you know,
Calla: Yeah, you would be fired. Essentially, they work for us, but it’s been flipped to think it’s the other way around.
Pat Stogran: So, now our entire society has been harmed by the pandemic. And I’m hoping. No, I’m, I’m actually sucking in my horns. This is how I lived for ten years when I was juiced on alcohol and good for the fight. I’ve closed down my Leaderology, and you know, my focus is on my grandson to be a critical thinker and not, you know, I watch MSNBC, so I argue with the people who watch Fox, that’s all it is. And but you know, sorry, I’m picking on you because you’re in front of me.
Calla: Hey, part of the job.
Pat Stogran: Mercedes Stevenson knew for five years of John Vance and everything that broke, but there’s some reason why they reached out and had it broken the way they did. I don’t know what the deal is.
Calla: It’s calculated.
Pat Stogran: Oh, it’s purely. My son was a young liberal and, and passionately, he works in government now. So he’s, he’s no longer a part of the cult. But he can spot the political shenanigans, you know, the floating something on Friday because this is what they’re going to do next week. Like, this is the game they play. It’s got nothing to do with policy. These people, political scientists, they’re not trained in strategy and economics. And, you know, we’ve seen it in Ontario with Doug Ford. Like, he’s, he’s overwhelmed by the decision making. And there was another point, you know, I’ve fired young captains out of the military who had more integrity and were subjected to a very rigorous decision-making regime in the military, you know, under the gun of superiors all the time to deliver. And it amazes me when I see them talking on Facebook, cutting all this slack for our theoretical commander in chief for the buffoonery that’s killing Canadians. So you see why I need cannabis.
Calla: I feel like I need cannabis right now.
Leanne: That’s why I love these conversations and what we’re doing here is because I think the real problem is awareness. It’s not just one civilian, keeping the government officials accountable. It’s you got to get a collective, huge group of people to do it. Because even as Ombudsman, you were holding people accountable and running into so many issues. And that’s a high position. So one civilian, just on Facebook, saying this is bullshit, isn’t going to do anything. And
Pat Stogran: Yeah, let me just give you another peek inside the kimono here of government because I went to the Minister and the deputy minister. I said, Look, I don’t want to write reports, you know, where my successor deeper on this is true. I wanted to fire him. I was going to put them on a special project because of the likelihood of firing; he was my director of investigations. He was my successor as they had him sidelined for the last year of my job as Ombudsman because he was not trustworthy. Not critical at all. I was getting better work from his staff by working directly with them. And they hired him for nine years after me knowing full well that I had him on over a career or career shortcomings. And you know, I’d love him to challenge me in a court on this. I swear on a stack of Bibles. He was on the way out. That’s what government wants. So what I’m trying to do is I’m trying to make people more militant, quite honestly, don’t play by the rules, like the only rule should be: “Fix it, or we’ll get somebody else.”
Leanne: Speaking of that, like what, what if anything has changed since you’ve had left as Ombudsman?
Pat Stogran: Nothing, not a thing. It’s gotten worse. Um, you know, Lionel Desmond, they had an inquiry in Nova Scotia. We didn’t have a federal inquiry into it that I know because we don’t do that. But Lionel Desmond is that young Soldier in Nova Scotia who killed himself and his young family? No, it’s still happening. The casualties are still facing the same problems despite the fact that General Walt Natynczyk’s smile, as Peter Mackay calls him, is that everybody’s favorite General. Yeah, he changed some things around the edges.
Leanne: In terms of funding or legislation, nothing has changed.
Pat Stogran: Well, that’s difficult for me to say because I saw funding slipping when I was studying it all the time. But so my level of granularity and that is less, but I can say from the frustrations that I’m you know, the correspondence that I receive on social media and such, I don’t think much has changed. I think they’ve learned how to deal with the problems of the past, but they haven’t fixed, you know, they’ve smoothed the waters, if you will.
Calla: Constantly trying to get ahead of it, just to be ahead of it, not to fix it.
Pat Stogran: Well fix the Fallout, the fix would be very easy with a different attitude, the attitude of the bureau senior bureaucracy as they would far sooner disadvantage, all the legitimate casualties in order to prevent the shop stirs, you know, the people who use the system, and I would submit a very small percentage of them, but let them through to make it easy for them, you know, the Lionel Desmond’s who’s at the end of the rope and may kill their entire family. You know, thankfully, in Canada, we don’t have the same sort of tendency to resort to Grand violence that we see in the United States. But I would say that that doesn’t diminish the suffering of the individuals. It’s, it’s more, I think, a statement of the kind of culture we have than it is about the kind of torture our casualties are going through. And, you know, at this point, in my healing, I don’t like to talk just about soldiers anymore. I’d sooner, you know, I look at the whole thing with racism, oh, it’s alive and well in Canada. You know, go back through our history, the residential schools are topical now. And you know, no empathy. There are lots of stated empathy, but unless you actually lived it, you’re crying it. It doesn’t hurt us the way those people are being harmed. But a leader has to feel it. You know, a leader has to understand the torture. I know both General Eyre and General Peter Dawe both worked for me in a previous life and both stalwart professionals, I have to say, and Wayne Eyre is just the man you need to clean up sexual misconduct in the military. But Wayne made a fatal error. I think that attacked his moral credibility when he supported Peter Dawe before he relieved him of command. He harmed a whole bunch of sexual misconduct victims in the military, who, you know, wasn’t involved in the Peter Daw thing, but they saw very much the fact that way there would express his continued confidence in Peter Dawe’s decision-making. From the correspondence I’ve had with female veterans who are active as advocates for getting rid of sexual misconduct, they felt betrayed. And as I said to you, that’s the heart of my PTSD is that feeling of betrayal. So a leader has to have the kind of empathy that an average person would only get first person singular with an interaction. You’ve got to be able to put your heart in the hands of that person who’s suffering. So I talked about troops, but First Nations people are every bit as disadvantaged victims of sexual misconduct. The list goes on in Canada, and we keep just kicking the can further down the road. But let me pose my this present. Rant on one thing that you know, my family is not going to suffer. I was smart enough and fortunate enough as a white person to be able to provide for my grandson’s education. I challenge anybody who allows these idiot politicians to dismantle their education system like I don’t care how tough you had it in school and how much you hate teachers. You should be demanding Cadillac education. And it’s the same thing with our health services, all of these critical things. These are the heroes of our country. I’d even put them as bigger heroes than the military, quite honestly, because this is their home. You know, we go overseas to fight the bad guys, and then we come back and get medals, and we expect to be respected? Man, I couldn’t imagine being a healthcare worker in this environment. It’s more than just troops to me. We’re talking about Veteran Affairs and healing. For me, that was the learning experience. And now I’m, to me, it’s about government versus the people. And we’ve got to stop picking our party because the parties are in it for themselves. They’re a lobbying group that has gained internal access; we got to start sticking up for all of the disadvantaged people. You know, like I said, I’m a man.
Calla: What are some active steps to do that as a civilian that you see that people could do? Because that’s kind of a broad statement? Can you help me understand that just a little bit of what you would like to see,
Pat Stogran: I’d like to see that we, as a society, start confronting politicians, you know, all of these issues facing politicians in the US Army War College. These are strategic-level issues. And the War College in the states teaches that strategic lesson issues, unlike issues that we face, at the strategic level, they’re very volatile. They’re ambiguous, difficult to read because there are so many factors going into them, which lends themselves to complexity, and uncertainty. And it’s huge because, at the strategic level, you’re looking at 1000s of factors and second, and third-order effects of policies that you implement. Stop me if I’m losing you on this.
Calla: A little bit. I’m trying to follow Yeah. Well, keep going.
Pat Stogran: Yeah, so what we shouldn’t you and I shouldn’t be arguing about is how you and I as Canadians, but this is what we do. My brother and I will argue he wants troops to prevent Muslim refugees from coming across the border from the States if we can’t protect our borders, what good are he and we have no idea of like I can in a heartbeat tell you the military complications and the cost to Canadian society, to employ our military to defend the borders. But I don’t expect my brother to understand that we pay our politicians Big Bucks not to stand out there and throw seal bait out like Mario Cuomo or whatever this sorry, the new fringe right-wing party that came out, and they were going to deploy the military. That’s seal bait. That’s the make people jump, and we fight over it. You know, we fight amongst ourselves and call each other names, not knowing anything about the complexities of the issue, let alone the solution that they’re telling us they’re going to implement. Because it isn’t going to happen, I’ll tell you any government that says they’re going to stop refugees by deploying the army has not looked at the problem. But they’ll do that. And then we’ll fight each other what we have to start saying to our politicians, you, me, and everyone fixes the refugee problem. You know, and, or else education, us instead of the propaganda of lies and half-truths, mistruths educate us in why it’s not a problem, but they don’t because it’s the political imperative. It’s the perception rather than the reality that’s important. But it’s the reality that will bite us in the ass ten years now that I worry about for my grandson. My kids have very well-paying jobs now. And so my wife and I can enjoy being a grandparent. Still, my grandson is going to have just with this pandemic. We don’t know if the economy is going to be anything like it is today, in five years, you know, the great reset whatever they’re talking about. But what we’ve got to do is just start demanding that politicians are accountable for results in Canada. And we can go back, you know, I’ve gone back as far as the second world war to see how we have been disadvantaged.
Starting with the ****, we would have been with the ****, Canada would have been a world leader in aviation. But for some reason, our government decreed that we would destroy every physical piece of it and all of the knowledge associated with it. And all of the scientists went to the United States. You look at our economy right now; we went from the breadbasket of the world. One of the warehouses that Auschwitz was actually called Canada house because we were considered the land of riches, and that’s where they put the riches that they stole from their victims. Canada was a land of opportunity. I would suggest to you that we’re not that my grandson does its face the same opportunities that I faced, you know, in the 60s and 70s coming up, and it’s our fault.
Leanne: What are those opportunities that are missing that you’re speaking of?
Pat Stogran: jobs, standards of education, world status, you know, we don’t have the status. We’re barely a third-world country in the world. The time was when Canada had a problem like we’re having with China right now. And then the people they’ve kidnapped over their time as we’d have countries that would help us. You know, we were the first country to help the United States. After 911, my unit was deployed to Afghanistan. And we were warned by October that we were going to be going to Afghanistan after September 11. So I was proud of that. But you know, we saw Trump playing games with the US MCA and or the NAFTA agreement. And don’t kid yourself. We didn’t come out ahead on that. We got whatever the Americans were given us. But it’s been played up by the media, and we, of course, attack each other. Where else? I think I’ve been talking about all of our institutions in Canada that have led us down in one way or the other, you know, they the RCMP with the massacring in Nova Scotia and police running around shooting at each other. Um, yeah, I could go on and on.
Leanne: What if your grandson came up to you and said, Grandpa, I want to join the military? How would you feel about that?
Pat Stogran: Oh, I’d be. I’d be gutted. I wouldn’t dissuade him. The influence I want to have on my grandson is to make him a critical and creative thinker. That’s all like I, you know, whatever he thinks is for himself. But I like to think about the time. Well, I want to think by the time he’s old enough to do that, that we will have come together as Canadians and said we expect better from this country. It’s one thing that we’re at each other’s throats, it’s one thing that that well, we don’t have any real Canadian iconic companies per se, especially ones that could be considered a world-class, but we’ve got a few. So I like to think that we’re going to come together as a country and recognize that we’ve been resting on primary industry for too long. That we have some severe problems. We’re never going to get ahead as a nation, I would submit to you as long as we have this problem with the way we’ve treated First Nations, and it’s going to get worse. There’s a great book by John Ralston Saul called: “The Come Back,” and they’re winning court challenges on treaties because we have robbed them blind. And sadly, leaders, this is a Leaderology thing. This is a well-known fact that leaders are very often narcissists amongst us. They are maniacal. Like to become a country leader, like let’s say, the United States, even Canada, you have to have a passion, you know, you guys can do it, but you don’t have the passion.
Calla: I don’t want that responsibility.
Pat Stogran: For somebody to lust, well, there has to be lust, there has to be a drive that is more important than family or whatever to get in power. And I’ve learned this through Leaderology. I’ve learned about the psychosocial aspects of decision-making because I came out of the military saying why, like, I thought I was going insane. You know, I know I was noted as a maverick throughout the military, mainly because I kind of knew something was wrong in the military about who we promoted. And it wasn’t until I got into Leaderology that I realized, A corporation is but a filter, and they filter like elements to the top. So you know, Hillier had what I call the “Hillier Youth” that he was looking after and Walter Natynczyk, John Vance. People knew who were in Hillier’s camp, and they all migrated to the top during the war years. And, you know, Montgomery once said, that best rank to be at the beginning of a war is Colonel because they get rid of all the generals who got their bureaucratically. Because the country wants to win a war, they bring up the warfighters. Well, that didn’t happen. In our case, the system just carried on as normal, and 158 young people lost their lives. So I’m hoping that through things like what we’re doing right now, Canadians will gradually turn around and start saying to our government, we expect more from you.
Calla: Who are the companies or people doing the inclusive, innovative work that can help move this vision of holding the government accountable? Who are those people? Are there people that stand out to you that are doing really good work?
Pat Stogran: No. This is a Leaderology thing again. So many organizations have asked me to be on the board of directors and stuff like that, but as you start to formalize these organizations, they begin to lose focus. You know, True Patriots Love, Wounded Warriors, and stuff. Take a look at how they look after troops now. They’ll boast about their accomplishments, but that’s for color glossies, you know, these trips, 15 veterans going to the South Pole, that’s great, make a lot of people feel good. I’m worried about the young kid in the basement looking at a handgun, trying to sort out the rest of his life. So I looked at people like there are smaller groups, like Soldier On doing things for the troops.
I think I would vouch for them—groups like the Veterans Emergency Transition Service System, people that work. In the food lines, those are the ones that make the difference in Calgary. There’s that community.
Calla: Yeah, back to that community.
Pat Stogran: And, you know, and I don’t want to discredit any particular organization because it’s just that that’s the life of an organization. It becomes self-perpetuating. So I look more at the individuals. And there are some that I used to do, especially with Leaderology; many of the people I followed and corresponded with were these individuals like Fabian Henry. You know, this is a guy that theoretically, it should have gone to his head. He’s made millions in the marijuana thing like many of his compatriots have gone to the Caribbean, and, you know, there have been many people who have made bundles of money in this. Julian Fantino, who stood up as the Minister of Veterans Affairs in the House of Commons, decreed that legalizing marijuana is akin to legalizing murder, and he would never allow it. Well, I was invited to the board of directors that he started of the pot company, you know, he’s right on the bandwagon. So no, I won’t vouch for any organization. Anyone, even the ones I mentioned here. They do some good work. And of course, where they do the good work, not to get thrown back in my face and say, you know, they did a great job here. Yeah, no, but it’s the overall. It’s the food lines. Homelessness is not a veterans issue. I learned, oh, in my first month as the Veterans Ombudsman, I learned about homelessness. You know, when the Minister was standing up there calling me a liar. I went to the Calvary drop-in center. And that, I think that was the name of it. It’s their big Alma center there. And they had my first visit, and they had 20 homeless veterans from all the wars since I think there was a second world. I certainly met a lot of second world war homeless veterans. Yeah, it’s a huge problem in Canada. And I don’t know how I got out of that route. But that’s why I’m on marijuana and even antidepressants.
Leanne: Well, can I ask you if you have any words of advice or hope for veterans that are struggling right now?
Pat Stogran: Oh, yeah. Okay. Put me on the spot with that one. Because, you know, I can sorry. No, because, well, you know, should I just say, get in with Fabian Henry. I’d be hesitant to do that because that’s not everyone’s cup of tea, you know? I think the secret to success is to develop mindfulness. And so I meditate now – not religiously, not expertly. I do it my way -and I do it as regularly as I can. I really believe in meditating, and marijuana helps get into that swing. I found yoga very useful. All these eclectic things. It’s very interesting.
Leanne: I couldn’t picture you doing yoga. That surprises me. I like to hear that.
Pat Stogran: Oh, yeah. You wouldn’t like to see it. But, you know, things like drum circles are healing people. Um, so?
Calla: You talked about that too, in your book with the dogs and how people won’t even take that seriously.
Pat Stogran: And it’s huge. Some veterans will think that having a dog is a pet that you kick around is a service dog. And you know what, I want my service dog kind of thing? It’s a mindfulness exercise, again, caring for a dog, you know, one of my sources of mindfulness has, aside from the courses I took, when I go for a walk with my dog is being there, and, you know, turning it into a mindfulness exercise. And, you know, it’s when I was a soldier, I thought this was all bullshit. And, you know, if I get too preachy about it, I’ll just be dismissed as a born again, or something like that. The troops have to experiment, they have to, you know, find something that is what I would say, fulfilling, but again, it comes to mindfulness, you know, it’s about the localness. It’s about not thinking about or worrying about the future or the past. And these are all buzzwords that meant nothing to me when I was a casualty and used them to heal. Like I preach about meditation to my kids, and they roll their eyes like it’s like I’ve taken up guitar. Here’s a metaphor I use because, like, I’m teaching myself fingerstyle and as a mindfulness exercise, and what I find is, as you’re trying to get the rhythm and all that you get so into the guitar, that the skills come by accident, like all of a sudden it becomes smoother. You hear it in the recording, but because you’re so into the strings, and the wood and all that, you know, you get well, it becomes mindful, or you sit down and sing a song. It’s more than that. You got to; you’ve got to extend yourself, you’ve got to advance yourself, you got to, like, with your family, you know, I was here for my family. So yeah, no, I think, first and foremost, I don’t know, you’re going to have to edit the shit out of this.
Calla: No, no, I get what you’re saying. It’s, it’s weird. You have to get out of yourself into just being where you’re at with what you’re doing.
Pat Stogran: Yeah, well, you know, it’s the same chemicals in your head that make you feel shitty, or make you feel good in the limbic system, you know, and, and it all starts, everything you experience goes through your limbic system, it strained through emotions. The reason is for survival, you know, this is something that goes straight to your middle, and because it’s fight-flight, or freeze kind of thing, or this is happy, and that metadata gets attached to it. And then you got to the memory, and you got to find a way of separating the emotional perceptional metadata from the facts that you were there and to each his own. And that’s the beauty of the four pillars that Fabian talks about because it’s not prescriptive, right? It’s very much individualized. Fabian actually takes exception to my belief in the “mission-team-self” thing because he says, “No, the missions over now. Now it’s about self and healing and all that.” But I would argue that the mission becomes one of healing. And then next to that is the team. Like in the military, its “mission-team -self” in that first is the mission, then second is the army and your trench mate. And then last in general, but no, no, your mission becomes healing. The team becomes those you love, and those people you care about and care about you and then the self, you know, you have to be mindful.
Calla: Your mission should you choose to accept.
Pat Stogran: Yeah. And what that It’s a sense of purpose. It’s like Viktor Frankl with us, you know, Man’s Search for Meaning, with that sense of purpose, being healing and with you reaching out because this is what the advice that I give to veterans, build that team, your team becomes first and foremost, your psychologist or psychiatrist or whatever. But then it’s positive thinking people like family, friends, Fabian, and his group, you know, and then it all comes back to mindfulness. Does this work for you? I think I’m dangerously into the guitar. I don’t take lessons, but I spend hours every day practicing fingerstyle. I can’t play a song yet. It’s all about perfect technique, and timing, and all that. And to me, that’s huge. The therapeutic benefits that come out of it. Like I say, not very good on guitar, but escaping into “Oh, here’s another lesson I learned.” There was a series on Netflix called Lockdown. It was a story about a British guy who got busted in some South American country, running cocaine and is thrown into a prison where he got into yoga, mindfulness, and meditation. They showed the conditions in these prisons, the gangs, a big police escort to put them in with a certain group. And your survival depends on living with that gang. So every night, he’d get up and do yoga and meditate. And he said I found freedom inside this prison through meditating through mindfulness. And I said, wow, you know if I can get every veteran to look at that! You could be in a hellhole, and through mindfulness, and I think, reinforcing the positive things in your life, like your team, because it is. It’s the people around you that are important. And we’ve gotten away from that industrialization has caused us to move away from families to move into subdivisions, where, you know, we process our lawns with petrochemical products. We drive a car to work, and we drive back. I don’t even know who my member my MLA is in this community. We’re one of many subdivisions, you know, gone is that sense of connection. My neighbors, we know really well. But you know, I think my recommendation for my kids and my grandson is to build that community and don’t chase the job. That’s tough to do. Got to find a balance, but its mission- team- self thing, and the mission changes, team changes. But at the end of the day, you got to be true to yourself.
Calla: Love that. I think that’s a good place to end, Pat. You just left a beautiful message: I want you to go be with your people, be with your grandson, take this time to heal as you said, and just be. We wish you the best. Thank you so much for coming and hanging out with us.
Pat Stogran: Yeah, I hope I gave you some you can work with like, I used to be better at interviews. Thanks for what you guys are doing. I love that we have podcasts that ordinary people can impact, and like not, I’m not calling you ordinary, but you know, this is the future. If we can talk to each other on means like this and spread the importance of community, then we’ll combat globalism and have a brighter future for our young kids.
Calla: Part of the plan. We got to just stick with it.
Pat Stogran: Good luck to you. And like I say, I hope this works for you.
Calla: Thank you so much. Take care.
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