Veterans and the Media

Words Matter:
Guidelines for Journalists When Reporting on Veterans

We don’t often hear about Veterans in the news.

When we do, the coverage sometimes includes misconceptions and language that promote stereotypes about Veterans, especially those living with post-traumatic stress.

In an effort to support the work of journalists who are reporting on the Veteran experience, the Centre of Excellence on PTSD and Dr. Rob Whitley of McGill University have collaborated on a series of new guidelines. These are intended to assist journalists in using accurate and sensitive language when reporting on events involving or affecting Veterans, and to contribute to a new, and more complex, understanding of the lives of Veterans and of the Families who stand with them. The guidelines will be available for download after the presentation.

Join us for a live webinar, hosted by the Centre of Excellence on PTSD, on Wednesday, 27 October 2021, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. ET. The conversation will focus on the new guidelines, as well as the anticipated benefits and outcomes for both journalists and Veterans. Panellists for this bilingual event include:

Gavin AdamsonGavin Adamson is an associate professor at the School of Journalism at Ryerson University.

He has taught in every year of both the undergraduate and graduate programs with a focus on digital news. Gavin is the Velma Rogers Research Co-Chair at the school and his interests lie at the intersection of news media and information about mental health and illness. His research has focused on how the news is shared and read in social media, and how the news affects the audience.

Gavin is the co-winner of the 2020 Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge focused on diversity in the news.

Laryssa LamrockLaryssa Lamrock is the Strategic Advisor for Families at the Centre of Excellence on PTSD.

She has a unique blend of experiences in nursing and military family deployment support. In addition, she has extensive knowledge and expertise in the field of peer support as well as lived experience as the spouse of a Veteran living with PTSD. She is also the daughter and mother of military members.

Laryssa draws from these experiences as she advocates passionately for, and represents the voices of, military and Veteran family members. Her path has opened many different opportunities as a representative of Veteran Families. She has served on a number of committees, including her current tenure on the MacDonald Franklin OSI Research Advisory Council. Laryssa co-authored the article “Coping as a Spouse of a Military Veteran with PTSD during the COVID 19 Pandemic” published in the Journal of Military, Veteran and Family Health in 2020.

Rob WhitleyRob Whitley is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, and a Research Scientist at the Douglas Research Centre. He is also an Honorary Principal Fellow at the University of Melbourne, and has held honorary appointments at King’s College London, Dartmouth Medical School and Howard University.

Rob has published over 150 academic papers related to social and cultural psychiatry, and he is the author of a forthcoming book, Men’s Issues and Men’s Mental Health, published by Springer. Rob is also an experienced filmmaker, and is currently finalizing a short documentary about cannabis use among Canadian Veterans.

Walter CallaghanWalter Callaghan is a Veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces and a PTSD survivor. 

In addition to being the Vice-Chair of the Research Reference Group at the Centre of Excellence on PTSD, he is currently working towards the completion of a PhD in medical anthropology at the University of Toronto focused on how Veterans make meaning of their experiences, especially moral injuries. 

He has extensive experience working with news media, having been called on to help the public understand psychological distress as experienced by Veterans and current serving members of the CAF, as well as helping make sense of the psychological aftermath of tragic events like the Danforth shooting and the Yonge St. van attack.

He is currently teaching an advanced undergraduate seminar at the University of Toronto entitled "Media representations and social imaginations of mental illness.”

Jennifer FinestoneJennifer Finestone is a bilingual facilitator, registered psychotherapist, and drama therapist in private practice in the Ottawa-Gatineau area. 

She has worked extensively in the field of oncology and bereavement, and also focuses on transition and self-esteem. Jennifer believes in the value of using humour and creativity in her sessions with groups and individuals. She received a master’s degree in Drama Therapy at Concordia University. She also holds an Honours Psychology degree from McGill, as well as a certificate in Adult Training and Development from OISE (U of T), and a diploma in Theatre Arts from George Brown. 

TRIGGER WARNING: This webinar may include content on difficult topics including suicide. The content may be hard to listen to and may bring up a range of emotions. We encourage you to care for your safety and well-being.