TUPPER LAKE - Village Trustee Rick Donah wants the community to understand the toll post-traumatic stress can take on an individual.
That's why he brought a resolution to the village board Monday to support Saranac Lake in honoring Australian Army Capt. Paul McKay, a 31-year-old veteran of the war in Afghanistan who was found dead on Scarface Mountain on Jan. 15.
Donah asked members of the board and the community to show their support by taking part in Friday's Anzac Day for PTS Awareness in Saranac Lake. The local event is a spin on Australia's equivalent of this country's Memorial and Veterans days. ANZAC is an acronym for the Australia New Zealand Army Corps.
Village Trustee Rick Donah speaks at Monday’s village board meeting about the importance of educating people on the effects of post-traumatic stress.
(Enterprise photo — Shaun Kittle)
Capt. Paul McKay, left, carries the Australian flag and marches in an Anzac Day parade in his hometown of Adelaide, Australia, on April 25, 2009.
(Photo — Angela McKay)
"Anzac Day is celebrated each April 25 in New Zealand and Australia to remember all their soldiers and veterans, especially those who fought in the Australia New Zealand Army Corps during World War I, in what is now Turkey," Donah said to the board.
Donah reminded the board that many combat veterans around the world are left to deal with PTS after returning home from active duty.
"April 25 offers us in the Tri-Lakes an opportunity to specifically stress PTS awareness and to assist our returning veterans in adjusting to life outside of combat," Donah said.
Anzac Day locally
11 a.m. Friday - Memorial service at World War I monument, corner of River and Church streets, Saranac Lake
5 p.m. Friday - Dinner at Saranac Lake Fish and Game Club, 726 state Route 3, Saranac Lake, fundraiser for Homeward Bound Adirondacks
7 p.m. Friday - "Happy New Year" (drama) screened at Adirondack State Theater, 100 Park St., Tupper Lake
4:40 p.m. Saturday- "High Ground" (documentary) screened at Adirondack State Theater, 100 Park St., Tupper Lake
McKay came to Saranac Lake without notice in late December, stayed at a hotel and was last seen alive on New Year's Eve, walking on the railroad tracks toward Ray Brook. A forest ranger found him dead as part of an extensive search. A coroner ruled his death as suicide by hypothermia. He is believed to have been suffering from post-traumatic stress due to his combat experience.
Early Friday morning, a small, private group will go to the top of Scarface Mountain and lay a single poppy at the site where McKay died, a poppy being a war remembrance symbol mentioned in the famous World War I poem "In Flanders Fields," by Canadian physician Lt. Col. John McCrae.
Donah said it was important for people here and throughout the United States to also take pause and try to understand the damage PTS can do to someone.
"This motion is to support our neighbors here in the Tri-Lakes in honoring the soldier that passed away," Donah said. "He felt a kinship to the Adirondacks, so he decided to come here."