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Sailor cycling for Invictus gold

LS Peter Dennis (centre, in red) is surrounded by the crowd at HMCS Scotian for a group photo following the Invictus Games rally held in Halifax on August 5.
Photo: MCpl Chris Ringius, FIS Halifax

Sailor ready to cycle his way to Invictus Gold

By Ryan Melanson,
Trident Staff

After falling from a ship’s ladder and suffering a traumatic head injury while deployed to Op MOBILE in 2011, LS Peter Dennis said his family and colleagues started noticing changes in his behaviour and personality.

“I wasn’t feeling normal, I was angry, lashing out, and my wife knew something wasn’t right,” he said.

“I wasn’t the same Peter I used to be.”

It was about two years later when the changes became drastic enough that his unit pushed him to get help. Since then, he’s been diagnosed with PTSD along with other chronic injuries, and he’s started on the path to recovery.

One of the most useful tools on that road has been his involvement with the Soldier On program, from which he was first introduced to the idea of the Invictus Games. He’ll be competing at the games in Toronto from September 23-30 as part of Team Canada’s cycling squad. He got a bike and started training more than two years ago, and recently has been to training camps in Esquimalt and in Kingston, where he’s been able to work with coaches to improve his fitness while meeting other injured or ill CAF veterans who can relate to his experiences and share advice and encouragement.

“The impact has been huge for me. I can socialize again now; I have team support and I have new friends I can talk to if I need to,” he said.

“We keep in touch on social media when we’re not seeing each other at the training camps. I have friends across Canada now.”

LS Dennis is from the Eskasoni First Nation in Cape Breton, but now lives in Sackville with his wife and two children, with two more twin boys on the way, while working with SISIP Financial as part of the JPSU. He said the buildup around the Invictus Games has kept him positive and motivated, and with daily 30km bike rides as part of his training, the benefits have become physical in addition to mental. He’s losing weight, feeling better, and joked that he’s now able to fit into his Team Canada uniform, which wasn’t the case this time last year.

With the games only weeks away, he said he was excited and ready to give it his all for a gold medal, though he won’t leave disappointed if that’s not the case.

“Honestly I’m just happy to be there and to complete the tasks. I’ll be retiring from the military soon, so crossing the finish line will be sort of the start of the next chapter of my life.” LS Dennis said.