News Local

Support Our Troops

Sarah Hyatt

LAURENTIAN VALLEY – Support for members of the Canadian Armed Forces and veterans continues to flood in this week, following an emotional Remembrance Day.

On Friday, Gwen Greenstock from Fifth Avenue Collection and Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MP Cheryl Gallant were at Vanderbrook’s Horse Farm, with staff, volunteers and participants of the War Horse program celebrating the launch of a newly designed high-line “Support Our Troops” pin, which will help local soldiers of war and soldiers Canada-wide through the national charity True Patriot Love (TPL).

For initiatives like the War Horse program here in the Upper Ottawa Valley, the news was overwhelming and inspirational, in the words of program director Alison Vandergragt.

The War Horse program, currently offered at Vanderbrook’s Horse Farm uses Equine Assisted Therapy (therapy that involves horses) to help locals affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Operational Stress Injuries.

Fifth Avenue Collection is a Canadian, international and local company, with independent jewellers all over, including in Petawawa.

Greenstock has been a jeweller with the Petawawa Fifth Avenue Collection for more than 15 years. She regularly takes part in events like the spring Showcase too, to sell jewellery, which now means likely life-changing impacts for a number of members of the Canadian Armed Forces, veterans and their families.

It was at this year’s spring showcase, MP Gallant and Greenstock crossed paths. The MP was looking for a specific type of pin, Greenstock explained, when the two got to talking about whether or not a specific type of pin could be designed.

Following the MP’s request, Greenstock approached Jay Butler, the president and CEO of Fifth Avenue Collection to see if the company could in fact make the troops’ pin. “They came up with a beautiful, simple, elegant design and offered to do the pin release as a fundraiser for our Canadian military suffering from PTSD,” Greenstock said. It took a lot of back-and-forth, but was well worth it, she added.

The pin sells for $19.95 plus HST and is available for both men and women. In this unique circumstance and for a limited time, 100 per cent of the proceeds will help soldiers and veterans through the national TPL charity.

“Fifth Avenue has absorbed all the costs of production and the independent jewellers have covered other costs such as shipping,” Greenstock said. About 800 pins have already either been sold or ordered – and every sale goes directly to TPL.

That equals out to about $16,000. In about 24-hours time, about 400 were sold, Greenstock said.

According to TPL’s mission statement, the charity stands to honour the sacrifice of members of the Canadian military, veterans and their families in both times of peace and conflict, through funding unique programs and innovative research which helps soldiers and veterans with mental health, physical rehabilitation, family support and veteran transition.

“This really is a way to say, ‘Thank you’ to our troops,” Gallant said, who is proud locals are making the difference. That was the intent all along, the politician added. Gallant was also the one who suggested working with TPL.

When Gallant and Greenstock first got to working together, the MP explained, she noted an article in the Observer about the War Horse program which had just been published, and outlined the program was in need of help, financially.

The cost to run the program is about $12,000 for a 16-week session, at three hours a week. And even though the program is proving recently to have clinical results, funding has not been secured. Better sleeping patterns and less irritability, to name just a few of the benefits, have been proven as a result of the equine therapy. A number of grads and participants of the program consistently said they feel more relaxed and look forward to the equine therapy most each week. Also offered in a group setting, the soldiers know they’re understood and can relate to one another.

A dedicated team thus far has donated more than 400 hours of volunteer work, just to get the program off the ground.

For six years, Vandergragt tried and tried to secure funding and get the program running, she said. Then one day, she just decided to do it, regardless and figure it out as the group went. But moving forward, the program cannot continue purely on volunteer hours, obviously.

The group at Vanderbrook’s Farm Friday are hopeful sales of the Support Our Troops pins will find their way back the War Horse program, to help local soldiers.

For more information on the TPL visit

To get your limited time pin, visit

Sarah Hyatt is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist


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