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Ottawa Police Officer and former CF Member Brian Dyck


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Hello folks,

Brian Dyck, an Ottawa police officer, former CF member and JTF2 operator is dying of ALS.  Some of you may know Brian from serving with him, others may have come to know him through recent media coverage.  Diagnosed only late last year, Brian was surprised when Veteran's Affairs declined his claim for benefits, despite several studies which show an increased risk of veterans developing ALS over the regular public (even higher numbers for those deployed in the first gulf war).  Not too much is known about ALS but a couple of years ago, the US VA recognized what they essentially called a "presumption of service risk" which entitled all US vets with ALS to receive much needed financial support and benefits.

Surprise, surprise, our VA did not recognize the studies.  Nor did they want to investigate the issue.

With the help of Ombudsman Stogran and a few other, Brian spearheaded a campaign to get our laws changed.  Last week, his efforts paid off and he received news that the Prime Ministers Office instructed the VA to take care of our vets with ALS.

The catch phrase with ALS is "2-to-5" meaning most people usually die from the disease within two to five years, usually by choking to death.  The brain remains fully active and alert as the body deteriorates and shuts down.  You essentially become trapped in your own body.

Despite the devastating effects of this disease, Brian continued to serve his community by spearheading this movement to get our laws changed.  He put himself out there, granted media interviews and did whatever he could to raise awareness of the disease and take the fight for future vets - all of this while his health rapidly declined.  He gave up valuable time with his family but he's leaving a legacy and they are all proud of him.

Thanks to Brian, future vets with ALS will now be taken care of financially and have much needed benefits available to them.

It's been less than a year since he was originally diagnosed but Brian is in a wheelchair, can barely move his hands and struggles to breathe.  He is taking it day-by-day but each day is such a struggle.  A website was setup awhile ago for Brian.  It's www.bdbattalion.com .  On the site, there is a contact page if anyone would like to leave him any words of encouragement.  While he has a good support structure around him for his final journey, his wife is trying to keep the house going.  I know that she will pass on all well wishes but given the circumstances and being as busy as she is, she might not b able to reply to every individual e-mail.

I've attached an article I wrote for Blue Line Magazine, Canada's national law enforcement magazine. It will give a little history about Brian and how he came to be diagnosed.  The article originally appeared in the Aug/Sept issue.  Keep in mind that the original interview was done in May.


After serving and fighting for his country an officer counts on family and friends
by Tony Palermo

Ottawa Police constables Brian Dyck and Trevor Dunlop knew the prostitute well. She made no attempt to hide the crack pipe in her
hand as they approached from the rear on their mountain bikes. Using the element of surprise, Dyck reached out and grabbed her wrist while Dunlop secured her other arm. She struggled and both officers fell to the ground laughing while trying to gain control and handcuff her.

“Oh man,” said Dyck. “She had to weigh a buck ten soaking wet. She had a lot of fight in her.” With the handcuffs on, the struggle was over and as usual, the prisoner became compliant. Dyck gave her the chance to sit or stand. She chose to stand but within minutes, was making a run for it down the street. Even cuffed, she was surprisingly fast. Dyck, a former military special forces member, gave chase, figuring he would let her tire herself out. It wasn’t long though before something didn’t feel right.

Dyck realized that his left leg was starting to give out. He reached for the prostitute to end the chase. Dunlop caught up and, after making sure the prisoner was secure, looked at Dyck and started laughing again. “What the hell is up with you?”

A few months later, after several doctors visits and tests, Dyck sat in the office of Dr. Pierre Bourque, a neurologist at the Ottawa Hospital’s Civic Campus. It was October 20, 2009. “Brian,” said Bourque, “all I’m seeing is ALS.”

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a lethal neuromuscular disease often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, named after the New
York Yankees baseball player who died from it in 1941 at age 37. Sufferers experience a loss of control over their mobility and become progressively paralyzed, essentially trapped in their own bodies, able to still feel sensations but unable to respond. Their muscles atrophy and they physically become a shadow of their former selves. Throughout it all, their minds remain intact.

The catch phrase withALS is 3-to-5, meaning most patients die within three to five years of diagnosis. They usually die by asphyxiation,
literally choking to death, fully aware but unable to do anything about it. “That’s my biggest fear,” aid Dyck. “I’ve been told that most go quietly. The breathing just slows and…”

A few seconds later he adds “I really hope that’s me.”

Right after being diagnosed, Dyck and wife Natali, also an Ottawa police officer, went to Syracuse, New York just to get away and create
some distance between them and the harsh diagnosis. A few days later, they started the emotional task of calling family and friends and Dyck was visited by an old military buddy.

“He brought me his brand new Harley,” said Dyck. “He told me that it was insured and to ride the hell out of it – that as long as the handlebars came back, he’d be happy.” As Dyck pulled out of the driveway, the song “It’s not my time” by 3 Doors Down started to play on the CD. The refrain goes:

Cause it’s not my time, I’m not going
There’s a fear in me, it’s not showing
This could be the end of me
And everything I know
Oh, but I won’t go

With cold tears freezing to his face, Dyck rode the hell out of that bike.


Dyck grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan. At 6’ 4” and 240 pounds at his heaviest, he had a passion for both the military and law enforcement. Determined to see the world, he enlisted as a medic, happy to get off the farm and experience the camaraderie and esprit de corps that military life offers.

Nine years later, he was selected to join the elite and highly secretive Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2) unit. As a medic and JTF2 soldier he
was deployed several times all over the world. The JTF2 unit is based out of Dwyer Hill on the outskirts of Ottawa and it was here that Dyck grew to love the city. Wanting to settle down and pursue his other passion, in January 2002, after 14 years serving his country, Dyck became a proud member of the Ottawa Police Service. He remained active until shortly after his diagnosis.

Less than seven months after being diagnosed,Dyck struggles with daily tasks, barely able to use a walker. He needs help to eat, wash and to go to the bathroom and cannot dress himself.

“I’m going to need a wheelchair soon,” he said. “The only reason I’m still using the walker is because I lock my knees. It’s almost impossible to do now. I took a good spill last week and cracked my head pretty good against the door frame. That one hurt.”

ALS is a costly disease. It creates financial hardship for those who suffer from it and their families, especially if they do not have health
benefits – but even with health plans and disability insurance, it can be financially crippling. There’s the loss of a full paycheque not only
for the one with ALS but often the spouse, who becomes their full time caregiver.

Then there’s the cost of equipment like a hospital bed, specialized electric wheelchair and van capable of accommodating both the chair
and patient in an upright position. Costly home renovations such as installing lifts, widening doorways and completely overhauling the toilet and shower are necessary. “Most people aren’t financially prepared for a disease like this,” said Lianne Johnston of the ALS Society in Ottawa.

Despite his worsening condition, Dyck remains cautiously hopeful. In some cases, the disease progression slows and sometimes
plateaus, never going away but buying more time. He struggles to lift his arm and points to his walker. “Even like this, I would take it in a
heartbeat,” he said. “It would be like getting a second chance at life.”

Realistically, Dyck knows that he is fighting a losing battle. Still, he feels guilty for not being able to work. “I miss riding the cruiser the most,” he said. “I also used to do 90 per cent of the cooking at home. It was a way for me to relax. So, giving up the kitchen was hard.”

His greatest pain comes during the quiet hours when all he can think about is his 18 month ld daughter Sophie. “She’s my Achilles Heel,”
he said. “I think about all of the stuff I’m going to miss about her growing up.” Even worse, he thinks about how Sophie will grow up with out her father. “I’m trying to write a diary for her. I’m also trying to record video messages to her but those are hard. I break down while making the video.”

Very little is known about what causes ALS but a few studies have shown that those with prior military service are more inclined to develop it, especially if they served in the first Gulf War. Why remains a mystery but in September 2008, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs effectively recognized an apparent link between military service and the increased risk of developing ALS. By doing so, US military veterans with ALS were now eligible for much needed assistance and funding.

Canadian Veterans Affairs denied Dyck’s claim because it does not recognize the US studies. Even in his deteriorating condition, Dyck
continues to serve his community and country. He is actively spearheading a movement to get the evidence looked at and our laws changed. “I’m taking this fight for the vets,” he said.

Although shy, Dyck is also trying to increase awareness about ALS. “Three months ago, I wouldn’t have done this interview,” he said, “but it was like a little switch went off in my brain. I realized that I could still continue to help others. I could raise awareness. I could effect change.”

Johnston speaks fondly of Dyck. “Our Ottawa fundraising walk will be our best walk yet. Brian has been great at stepping forward and
raising awareness for ALS,” she said.

Dyck recently had Valkyrie wings tattooed the length of his forearms. In Norse mythology, the Valkyrie bring their chosen warriors to
Valhalla, the afterlife warrior hall of the slain, where the warriors feast and are brought their fill of mead.

With twitching hands, Dyck strokes the wings of the Valkyrie. “I sure hope that I am deserving enough to go to warrior heaven.”


A website (www.bdbattalion.com) has been set up for those who would like to donate to Brian, Natali and Sophie
Dyck or offer them words of encouragement.


Facing hard times?
Talk it out and learn to receive!

It took the persistence of family, friends, strangers and continued visits to a psychiatrist for Cst. Brian Dyck to get into a better place mentally. Certainly, no one would fault him.

“It’s weird, isn’t it?” said Dyck. “As cops, 90 per cent of our job is social. We’re constantly asking people to tell us what happened. From
call-to-call we ask them to tell us their story. We ask them to talk to us. So why then is it so hard for cops to talk?”

Dyck admits that after he was diagnosed, all he wanted to do was close the door. He knew of colleagues who had turned to the bottle or other substances to cope and had seen it countless times as a front-line officer.

“I was becoming one of those same people until that little switch in my brain went off,” said Dyck. “Natali kept reminding me that people were reaching out because they wanted to help. Then she drove it home by telling me I’d be doing the same thing if I knew someone who needed help.”

As hard is it was at the time to accept, Dyck knew his wife was right. He began to understand that there was nothing weak about accepting help from others. People wanted to help for any number of reasons but they all shared a common theme – they wanted to help because they cared.

“If I can pass on any words of wisdom to other cops who are facing their own battles, whatever they may be,” said Dyck, “it’s that I want them to learn to receive. Don’t be shy to reach out and ask for help either. There’s nothing weak in that.”


Update as of July 15, 2010

Just over two months has passed since Brian Dyck first spoke with Blue Line Magazine. Sadly, his health continues to rapidly decline.

“My legs are shot,” says Dyck. “I’m really slowing down.”

He is limited to a wheelchair, sleeps in a hospital bed, and has very limited use of his arms. His lung capacity is down to about 50 per cent and he uses an assisted breathing device to help him breathe.

Still, Dyck soldiers on. “I try to get out there to do events as I can,” he says.

Veterans Ombudsman Pat Stogran has taken an active interest in Dyck’s case.

“I have asked Veterans Affairs Canada to deal with his case as a matter of urgency,” says Stogran. “Unfortunately, Brian Dyck is dying. He does not have the luxury of time.”

For Dyck, the clock does not stop ticking. Seconds turn to minutes, minutes to hours and hours to days. He grows weaker. And still,
Brian Dyck waits for a response from Veterans Affairs Canada.

Tony Palermo is a freelance writer based in the Ottawa
area. He can be reached at tony@tonypalermo.ca.

I read about Brian in Blue Line magazine a few days ago......stay strong.
I served with Brian in Calgary - a really cool guy.  This really sucks...

Hey All,

For member's here who Follow Pat Stogran On Twitter if you haven't updated as in like 17 minutes ago from this post
Pat Has Made a very very SAD Announcement.

His announcement was that this Gentlemen, Brian Dyck, Former Police Officer and Fellow CF Memnber Has lost his Battle
with ALS And has passed Away.

Pats Twitter Link

I am sad to inform you that Brian Dyck, the Vet with ALS for whom the PM intervened to have VAC change its unfair policy, has passed away!P@    3 minutes ago  via Twitter for BlackBerry® 

My thoughts and prayers are with Natali and Sophie, their friends and family! He was a warrior, and fought to the very end for his family!P@    less than a minute ago  via Twitter for BlackBerry® 

RIP Brian Dyck    :salute:    and heartfelt condolences to family and friends.      :cdn:
I knew Brian back in Calgary. Rest easy brother.
I am not sure if we crossed paths in Calgary.  My condolences to his family and mates.
RIP Brian Dyck, thank you for your service and my condolences to your family  :salute:
Police officer, ALS activist and father dies Friday

Brian Dyck worked to publicize relationship of ALS with military service

Original link

By Jennifer Campbell, The Ottawa Citizen October 8, 2010

OTTAWA – In July 2009, Ottawa police officer Brian Dyck had a strange episode on the job. He was chasing a woman he’d just handcuffed when his leg started to drag.

Three months later, he got the devastating diagnosis of ALS. Though the neuro-degenerative disease ravaged his body more quickly than it does most, the former military man was committed to achieving two things before he died: He wanted to convince Veterans Affairs to do as its U.S. counterpart did and acknowledge through benefits the relationship between ALS and military service. And he wanted to make sure that his nearly two-year-old daughter, Sophi, would always know how much he loved her.

Friday, just one year after his diagnosis, the 42-year-old died. In a small blessing, he knew he’d fulfilled both goals.

For his daughter, he made a series of videos of himself so he’d be there for her life’s milestones. And just two weeks ago, he and his wife, Natali, learned their appeal to Veterans Affairs had been ruled upon favourably and Natali and Sophi will receive benefits and a pension.

Brian Dyck’s personal battle with ALS is over. But the work he did on behalf of others in the same situation will be his legacy.

“We are very proud of what we have accomplished for our family and all vets and military members in the future,” Natali, also a police officer, said in an e-mail the day they heard the results of their appeal.

Dyck’s disease took him much more quickly than ALS usually does. The ALS Society of Canada says most survive for between two and five years after diagnosis.

David Cameron, chief executive of the ALS Society of Canada, called Dyck’s deterioration “extremely fast” and lauded the man who loved his military service for “paving the way for vets who have ALS to get the attention of Veterans Affairs.

“He led the charge and was a man of tremendous courage, supported by a very courageous woman who stood by him every step of the way,” Cameron said.

Last year, Dyck’s diagnosis caught the attention of Mayor Larry O’Brien and his wife, Colleen McBride-O’Brien, at a police event. On learning the young couple planned to travel as much as they could in the short time they had left, the O’Briens chartered a plane to New York City and paid for their hotel for the weekend. Five months later, they helped organize a fundraiser at City Hall that raised about $50,000 to help pay for the equipment Dyck soon needed. Brian was in a walker by May and a wheelchair by June, though he took part in a fundraising walk.

Less than a month ago, he was well enough to turn up in his paraplegic wheelchair for the Underwear Affair, a fundraising walk for cancer, to support his friend, Luke Rochefort, who owns the police hangout St. Louis Bar & Grill. Rochefort has testicular cancer and was participating.

McBride-O’Brien saw Natali shortly after her husband took his last breath Friday.

“Brian put her at peace,” she said. “They knew it was coming. He was ready — and he was at peace with it.”

Although Dyck had always said he wanted to die in the dream home the couple had built in the country, he made the difficult decision this week to go into palliative care. McBride-O’Brien said Natali, who was able to sleep beside him in his hospital bed the night before he died, realized why only afterward. “She figured out that he wanted their time at home to be happy memories.”

His wife and daughter were the loves of his life and to show that, Dyck had an angel wing tattoo put on the underside of each of his lower arms. The idea was that he would be their angel in heaven.

McBride-O’Brien said his actions were continually inspiring.

“It was a blessing to know him and he was just a very selfless person,” she said.

Insp. Ian Kingham, who looks after the central-east district where Dyck worked, said he was “an outstanding police officer, both in terms of the quality of his character and the quality of his work. He leaves behind not just co-workers but very close friends.”

Through a spokesman, Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered his condolences to the family on behalf of the government of Canada. Veterans Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn said he received the news with great sadness and offered condolences as well.

The family will receive friends at the central chapel of Hulse, Playfair and McGarry from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday. The funeral is to be held at Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church, 194 Fourth Ave. in the Glebe, on Wednesday but the time is to be confirmed.

RIP, Brian.  Your dedication to the service of your country dwarfed even your physical presence...God speed! :salute:

My thoughts and prayers go out to Natali and to her and Brian's daughter, and sincerely hope that they are looked after, as they should be.

Here's to Brian's & his family's work helpget get more help to those needing it :salute: Highlights mine:
The Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State (Agriculture), announced today that the Government of Canada has taken action to improve and speed up support for Veterans suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). He was joined by Pierre Poilievre, Member of Parliament for Nepean-Carleton, David Cameron, President and CEO of the ALS Society of Canada, and Veteran Mike Watson, who has led a courageous battle against ALS.

"Having met Veterans with ALS, I am deeply touched by what they have lived through. Our government commits to giving them better support and delivering it quickly. These Veterans and their families must concentrate all their energy on fighting this terrible disease rather than fighting to obtain the benefits and financial support they have earned," said Minister Blackburn. "Our government is there for them, when they need it most."

Based on the latest medical research, our government has made changes so that Veterans affected by ALS obtain the help and support they need and deserve faster than ever before. These Veterans will now be able to receive disability benefits, treatments and home care support. These services are greatly needed by Veterans and their families who are affected by this devastating disease. For example, they will now be eligible for adapted wheelchairs, medical resources, housekeeping services and more ....
More in today's VAC news release here, and from the Canadian Press here.
5 years since you left us big guy. Always in our thoughts.

Your comrade, fellow ex medic and Saskatchewanian