My name is Cody Lindsay and I am The Wellness Soldier. I am a Veteran, Chef, Marijuana Advocate, and Father of three children. I joined the Canadian Military in 2001 (Basic Training 0110 B) and I did seven years and two tours. I was Army yet I served my whole time in the Navy.
My story starts when I joined the military, it was right out of high school, it was because of my mom that I did, as she was military. I don’t what I was thinking, but for some reason, I thought “Cook couldn’t be that hard”, I ended up being horribly wrong, but it was fun none the less. A couple of months after that conversation I was off to St. Jean for basic training.
My story continues with basic training, that was some great times of my life. I made friends there that I still talk to today and share stories with. After Basic it was off to “HELL” A.K.A. Borden, Ontario. The QL3 Course however (looking back on it) was some of the best training that a cook/chef could ever receive. The course materials and the way it was structured with Large Quantity Cooking, Small Quantity Cooking, Butchery, and everything else I learned there was great training for a junior cook/chef.
When I graduated my QL3 my story continues to CFB Esquimalt, where after one day on base, I joined HMCS Protecteur which was due to set sail on Op Apollo just a few weeks away. My time on HMCS Protecteur is where I met my mentors and made some great memories. The crew that I was sailing with all had a combined time in of over 80+ years in the cook trade so I soaked up everything that I could. I completed my QL4 book in 6 months. Great times in the Navy that trip, those fun times go in the my story vault.
After HMCS Protecteur, my story gets me sent to the hell called Nelles Block. It is only as fun as you make it, and I had a pretty good time there. After about a year on base I was asked if I wanted to go to Afghanistan. As that’s what I joined the military for, my story with Afghanistan starts, I said “yes”, and within 2 weeks I was in Afghanistan. YES, I said within 2 weeks, no previous training what so ever.
I was sent down to Trenton a week early, as Esquimalt’s BOR decided to blindly send me to Trenton with out checking flight times, and they had no room booked for me in Trenton either. I was rescued by CFB Kingston (don’t ask me how that one happened) as they sent a driver to get me from Trenton to bring me to Kingston to settle this. After I tell them my story, I find out that the BOR in Esquimalt did not book a hotel for me in Croatia, and my paperwork was not the paperwork that I needed. Thankfully the Logistics Officer in Kingston was my Supply Officer on the Gulf trip I was just on, LCdr Courrigan (might be spelled wrong) but she is the most amazing officer I have ever met.
After all of my fun in Kingston and my extra week back home (because yes I made them fly me back home for that week) I was finally off to Afghanistan with the 14 other people I was going with. Once in Afghanistan the troubles started right away. My story starts once off the plane, I realized that my afternoon of NBCD and weapons training was not the right amount of training as I didn’t even know what “IED” stood for.
When I got to Afghanistan I was missing:
- The Required Training
- The Required Medical Shots (ie: Malaria Shots)
- Dessert Combats (then I got some that were too small for me)
- Ruk Sak
- ZAP Number
- BOR Didn’t Know I Was Coming to Afghanistan
- An Officer on the Range misfired his weapon in the ground, right beside me
My chief in Esquimalt told me “Just go to all the places listed on your in/out routine and they will set you up with everything you need to go to Afghanistan!”…..I guess not!!
I was finally where I was supposed to be going and the Sgt. that was at the PRT site says “Who are you? I’m not expecting anyone else!”, in my story I feel so special by this point.
I was not letting my disadvantages of not having proper kit or training ruin my chances of survival.
So I focussed a lot of my time on improving the food quality and trying to increase moral as much as possible with food. Aside from not being prepared at all and always feeling like anything could happen at a moments notice, the tour went by pretty quick.
When I returned home I felt so relieved to be home, alive, and safe that I wanted people around me all the time to help me feel better. However, although I was back home in Canada, I realized that many of the stresses and challenges I experienced in Afghanistan had somehow managed to follow me home, and my worsening condition ultimately led to a 5F discharge, and later annotated to medical release.
Anything post deployment Afghanistan is yet to be found in my medical file…
Being released was the worst day of my life, I LOVED being in the military, especially the Navy. Without my beautiful wife and children beside me I don’t think I would have been able to get through this difficult period, and back into a state of good physical and emotional well-being.
I have sought out and received benefits from VAC over the years and they have helped improve my life. These benefits include covering the cost of medical cannabis, which I find more effective than the many prescription medications. I told the doctors and psychiatrists that the marijuana works better for my symptoms and that I do not want to take harsh pharmaceuticals. Eventually Veterans Affairs Canada started paying for my medical marijuana, which helped me mentally and financially.
Once I released from the Military I continued on my path of culinary greatness and earned my Red Seal Chef’s papers as well as becoming a member of the Canadian Culinary Federation of Chef’s and Cook’s (CCFCC) and a member of the World Association of Chef’s Societies (WACS).
I have also been involved with many shows and presentations adding my knowledge to the cook trade. I am not a dietician, or nutritionist, I am a chef that knows that the basic fundamentals in life are breathing, drinking, and eating. If we are going to eat, we need to eat clean, basic, and healthy items to give us the fuel that we need to live a vibrant, resilient, and healthy lifestyle.