As Commandant of the Canadian Forces College, where senior military leaders undergo professional military education to round out their command, leadership and staff expertise, I can provide personal testament to Monica's exceptional and engaging presentation on personal and family resilience. This is the 2nd year that she has addressed the 130 or so members of the Joint Command and Staff Programme, an audience of future COs and commanders who must come to grips with the risks inherent in a military career, both as leaders who might have to "ring the doorbell" and as individuals who are not impervious to suffering a loss themselves. Monica's presentation style takes the audience on a roller coaster of emotions, punctuated with her own witty Maritime humour - not everybody gets it but everybody wishes they did! The audience leaves the room with a better understanding of what loss really means, how to deal with it themselves and how to respect someone else who is grieving, a personal journey that has no established formula or roadmap. Needless to say, she will be invited back again next year so that the next crop of future senior CAF leaders can hear her story and grow from it.

K.R. Cotten
Commandant Canadian Forces College

I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation for your presentation on grief and resilience. It lent well to our focus on mental health and resonated with many of our members, who continued discussions about your brief afterward. It also provided another perspective specific to healing, which as soldiers we need to consider. 
It has been a privilege to have you join us and thank you again for your presentation. It was greatly appreciated by our members and there is no doubt you have made a significant contribution to the overall success of Introduction to the North 2016.

M.A. Nixon
Commander Joint Task Force North

In May of 2016 I had the pleasure of having Monica speak to an assembled group of instructors from across the Canadian Army’s Individual Training System; all ranks, all Army Training Establishments including the Command and Staff College, Peace Support Training Centre, as well as representatives from the Royal Canadian Navy and  Royal Canadian Air Force.  I had asked Monica to be prepared to talk about life after her husband’s death, and relate that to the newly devised Canadian Army Integrated Performance Strategy, Mission: Ready.  I’ve known Monica for several years, knew her sense of humour and personality, was confident she would meet expectations. I knew of her creative talents, and since Dan’s death had followed her blog and so had a sense for her writing style.

I was not prepared for the effect she would have on a bunch of soldiers - big, tough Army guys - as she told her story of family resilience.  A perfect measure of wit, humour, candour, directness, and compassion, she wove her story in with the six pillars of fitness (according to the Canadian Army Integrated Performance Strategy) so effortlessly and with such bold passion and frankness there were more than a couple tears amongst the crowd and a lot of heads bobbing to her message; a message that needs to be heard by our soldiers, families and Defence Team.

Monica is the right mixture of motivational speaker, comedienne, counsellor and Mom, and I thank her for being her.

D. Craig Aitchison
Combat Training Centre

1 comment

  1. Thank you very much for writing such an interesting article on this topic. This has really made me think and I hope to read more. conclusion


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