Reservist discovers rewards of the Sentinel Program

Sailor First Class Amanda Polus of the Personnel Coordination Centre Pacific displays a Sentinel Patch that will soon be affixed to her service uniform. Photo: Peter Mallett/Lookout

Peter Mallett 
Staff Writer 

The inspiration to join the Sentinel program has much to do with being a self-described ‘people’ person, says one of the newest Sentinels on the west coast.

“If I think back to all the greatest experiences I have had in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), along with the worst experiences in the CAF, they all have to do with people,” says Sailor First Class (S1) Amanda Polus. “I don’t think there are any two people with the same exact problem; all are uniquely different.”

The Royal Canadian Chaplain Service Sentinel Program is an alternative to chaplains’ counselling and care, established in 2007 as a peer support network. Trained and supervised volunteers of all ranks connect members in need with support and resources in the CAF and external organizations. Sentinels are easily identifiable by the patch on either of their arms, inscribed with the word ‘Sentinel’.

S1 Polus is one of over 3,000 qualified Sentinels across the CAF. She is also a full-time reservist and Human Resources Administrator with the Personnel Coordination Centre Pacific. She officially joined the program on May 9 after training with her unit’s padre Lieutenant (Navy) Peter Han. Lt(N) Han’s instruction involved advice on listening intently to a member’s concerns, and then discussing solutions for crisis and hardships.

“Finding solutions to member’s problems is not as easy as it seems, especially when you really want to make the person feel better but do not immediately know the right thing to say,” S1 Polus says.

So far, she has offered her care and support to three peers, and says the experience has been rewarding.

“As a Sentinel, I want to be that person who can hopefully make someone’s day a little brighter, and be there for any member who is having a hard day or going through a difficult period in their life,” she says.

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