By Elizabeth Sharpe,
CFB Halifax PA Intern
For more than 20 years, Scott Currie has been a fixture at Canadian Forces Health Services Centre (Atlantic) (CF H Svcs C(A)), ensuring that members of the Canadian Armed Forces community in Halifax receive quality patient care. His interest in helping others, however, began much earlier.
Originally from Bridgetown, Nova Scotia, Currie graduated from Dalhousie University with a Bachelor of Arts, as well as a Bachelor of Social Work, and completed his Masters of Social Work at McMaster University in Ontario.
While growing up in Bridgetown, Currie’s grandparents were the administrators of the “County Home”, a residential facility for adults who had various degrees of disabilities and were unable to remain with their families. With his grandparents being the administrators, this meant that his mother and aunt also resided in the facility. As a result of his mother growing up with many of the residents, they became like members of their family – they were often referred to as aunts, uncles and cousins, and attended several family gatherings.
As he got older, Currie noticed the misunderstandings and stigma that other people held towards the residents. This, paired with his exposure to people with various cognitive impairments from a young age, is ultimately what led Currie to pursue a career in social work.
“I believe it was this experience that drove my desire to help be a voice for people who didn’t have the opportunity to have their voice heard, or whose voices were often silenced and dismissed,” he explains.
Currie had known for many years that he wanted to pursue a career in social work, and after his older cousin had been accepted to the Royal Military College (RMC), he explored the possibility of completing his studies there as well. Unfortunately, a social work program was not offered at RMC so he quickly shelved the idea and moved ahead with his studies.
Despite this change in direction, working with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in some capacity had always remained in the back of Currie’s mind. And lo and behold, after he completed his Masters program, he came across a recruiting advertisement for CAF Social Workers.
Following a discussion with the senior CAF social worker, Currie discovered that the CAF was actively hiring civilian social workers at CFB Halifax. Since he and his wife were moving back to Nova Scotia, this was the right time and place for Currie to pursue his interest in the CAF and the opportunity to practice his profession. He began working as a social worker at CFB Halifax in June 2000.
Currie has worked for CF H Svcs C(A) ever since, holding several different roles over the two decades. Initially, he worked as a social worker in the Social Work Department, currently known as Psychosocial Services. Subsequently, he worked as a clinician with the General Mental Health (GMH) Department, before assuming a supervisory role as the Team Lead in GMH, and has held the title of Mental Health Department Manager for the past five years. As the Mental Health Department Manager, Currie’s responsibility is to ensure that the department has the various resources needed to deliver the services they offer and that the department fulfills its obligations and respective mandate. Working in the clinic at CFB Halifax has been great, Currie says, as it is a relatively small community that allows relationships to form with personnel in multiple different professions and trades.
These relationships, and the opportunity to work with a dynamic and motivated group of professionals, have been the highlights of Currie’s career. He said he’s also thankful to have provided clinical support to members deploying for Operation APOLLO and to members returning from missions overseas. Currie also had the chance to work with a small group of health care professionals to develop and deliver a chronic pain self-management program for CAF members. This program was the first in Canada and served in part to raise awareness of the debilitating impacts of living with a chronic pain condition. Currie was awarded a Surgeon General’s coin for this accomplishment.
And if you can believe it, Currie has time for more activities beyond his busy work life. Pre-pandemic, Currie enjoyed being an assistant coach for his children’s Junior High track team, and also likes to run himself. In 2019, he was even inducted into his home-town’s Sports Hall of Fame as a track and field athlete. This was a great honour for Currie, as he has many fond members competing and representing his town at various meets throughout the province.
As we move past Bell Let’s Talk Day, Currie would like to remind anyone who may be struggling with their mental health that help is available. Health care professionals can assist you on your pathway to returning to a state of wellness. He also wants to emphasize that individual actions and reactions matter. “If you see someone who may be struggling with mental health issues, it is important that you do not judge them, as social stigma around mental health still exists and can deter someone from seeking the help they need,” he explains.
In his career, Currie has seen many wonderful examples of friends, colleagues and supervisors assisting members who need support. The climate these individuals foster has not only helped members obtain access to the care they needed, but also created and fostered a constructive environment for recovery. “These small actions may go unnoticed, but they are lifesaving for those who benefit from them,” he adds.
Currie’s time at CFB Halifax has come to an end, as he has accepted a position with the Canadian Coast Guard as a Health and Wellness Analyst. A significant part of his new role will be to promote and educate personnel about mental health issues.
“Scott will be missed by all, as he has had a profound impact on the staff and patients alike,” says LCol Rochelle Heudes, CF H Svcs C (A) Commanding Officer. “Having spent most of his adult life at CF H Svcs C (A), he is leaving a family, but like all families we will always be there for him. He will be missed, but his legacy will remain.”
Our CFB Halifax community would like to thank Scott for all he has done for our CAF community during his many years at CF H Svcs C(A). We wish him fair winds and following seas as he enters into this new chapter!