By Martin Zeilig
A new Defence Advisory Group is “oriented” to those military and civilian employees with disabilities, notes Corporal Adam Miller, a 17 Wing MSS Electrical Distribution Technician, the deputy military chairperson for the Defense Diversity Advisory Group (DDAG) Persons with Disabilities.
“Defense Diversity Advisory Group DDAGs are volunteer-run groups comprised of a Champion (senior leadership), two co-chairs (military and civilian) and a membership of military and civilian Defence Team members,” notes information available from the DND website.
A disability is defined “as any impairment or functional limitation that, when combined with a barrier, excludes someone from full and equal participation in society,” says the online information.
“The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that the workplace is accessible and strives to remove barriers in the workplace.”
Cpl Miller, who was interviewed via Teams on September 28, said that that concept of advocacy for the Defence Advisory Group - Persons with disAbilities DAGPWD is “nothing without us.”
“We should be consulted regardless of the situation, while keeping civility in mind whenever you’re planning anything,” he added.
“Making things accessible with all disabilities should be at the core.”
Another member of the DAGPWD, Petty Officer Second Duncan Bowes, who is based at HMCS Chippawa (located at 1 Navy Way) said his goal is to make sure that the DAGPWD is widely known about by members of the CAF and civilians.
“I know we have posters up, but I don’t know how many people read them and the fact that we share the poster with all the DDAGs doesn’t help,” he wrote in an email to The Voxair.
“I feel 17 Wing is doing an outstanding job regarding accessibility and they support all who may be disabled, but if we don’t hear about the issues we can’t address them.”
He added that this DDAG is responsible for all of 17 Wing, McGregor Armouries , Minto Armoury, HMCS CHIPPAWA , HMCS QUEEN in Regina, Saskatchewan and HMCS GRIFFON in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
“So we have a large geographic area of responsibility, and I don’t know if the outliers are aware of the support this DDAG offers. I have had the chance to chat with a few building managers and Wing Command and everyone is in full support of all members and their loved ones regarding persons with disabilities.”
Cpl Miller commented that the DAGPWD has 20 members on the Wing actively involved, both civilian and military members and members of the community too.
“A number of organizations in the community, too, are giving us advice to ensure that access for disabilities are at the core,” he said.
He emphasized that disabilities can be both visible and invisible.
“Every disability is on a spectrum,” Cpl Miller explained.
“So, it’s not strictly black or white. A person with a visual disability may have sight. It depends on how much. The concept is to remove barriers so they can have the best work-life enjoyment on Wing.”
He was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in 2021.
Cpl Miller said that having PTSD means “understanding what that means to me and how it affects my life” on a day to day basis.
“I was injured in Afghanistan in 2010 while serving with the Lord Strathcona’s Horse as an armored crew man,” he said.
“There’s not necessarily one event that is triggering, but multiple events. That’s classified as an occupational stress injury. Not everybody with a disability will present the same way.
“Acknowledging that I do have that impairment on my day to day life is something I have to acknowledge and deal with. It’s very important. I have certain memory gaps. I’ve had night dreams as well. It’s affected myself and my wife and two young children too. My wife has been super supportive since I got the diagnosis.”
The DAGPWD holds regular meetings with Colonel Aaron Spott, 17 Wing Commander, Cpl Miller noted.
“He’s very receptive to our issues and works actively to mitigate them,” he said.
“It’s very exciting time for me to be in the CAF because so many things are being acknowledged and in the larger society too.”
The annual International Day for Persons with Disabilities is Dec 3 annually.
For further information contact: DAGPWDWinnipeg@forces.gc.ca