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When the Centre of Excellence on PTSD (CoE – PTSD) was first envisioned, and a contribution agreement with Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) signed, it was given its interim name. In the course of building the organization, an integrated strategic planning and branding process took place to set the course for the next stage in its evolution. These processes involved extensive consultation with stakeholders connected to the CoE – PTSD itself. Thanks to this integrated approach, the strategic plan and brand complement each other, reflecting what the community of Veterans and Families identified in terms of issues, goals, and direction.

Why was a rebrand necessary?

  • The name was always intended to change as the organization became fully operational.
  • Having PTSD in the name made it sound as if we were a diagnostic organization and focused on a single condition.
  • The name “Centre of Excellence on Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Related Mental Health Conditions” is very long. The inclusion of “Centre of Excellence” does not resonate with Veterans and Families, based on what was shared in the Strategic Planning process.
    • Among researchers and service providers, its meaning is well understood, but Veterans and Families do not feel a connection.
    • As a new organization, the Centre has yet to achieve excellence. The name was therefore aspirational and not descriptive.
    • It is counter to the humility Veterans (Military and RCMP) and their Families feel their service embodies.
    • ”Centre of excellence” will still be used as a descriptor without being an official part of our name, e.g., The Atlas Institute is a centre of excellence.

How do we define ”Veteran?”

  • When people think of Veterans, many picture someone who served in the First World War, Second World War, or the Korean War. While many Canadians recognize these older Veterans, the same may not always be true for those who have served Canada since the Korean War. VAC considers any former member of CAF who releases with an honourable discharge and who successfully underwent basic training to be a Veteran. This Veteran status recognizes the risk CAF members assume by wearing the uniform and pledging allegiance.

Does our audience consist specifically Veterans of CAF and the RCMP?

  • Our primary audience includes CAF Veterans and their Families, retired RCMP members and their Families, and service providers and researchers who work with and/or are interested in improving the mental health and well-being of these populations. We no longer have “and first responders” in our mandate descriptor, however the work we do continues to have relevance for first responder and public safety personnel (FR/PSP) populations.
  • Given their occupational roles and histories, Veterans and FR/PSP both face higher risks for PTSD. While our audience is for both CAF and the RCMP, police at the regional, provincial, and national levels are considered PSP so there is a recognized overlap of audience. We recognize that Veterans sometimes work as PSP (i.e., they “exchange one uniform for another”), again creating overlap among these audiences. The Atlas Institute will continue to collaborate with partners, such as the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT), to advance mutual interests and impact in the areas of PTSD, mental health, and well-being among our common stakeholders.

Does this rebrand mean that we are more generalized in our approach?

  • While “PTSD and Related Mental Health Conditions” has been dropped from the name, the focus of our work at the Atlas Institute, remains Veteran and Family mental health. This includes a focus on PTSD, along with other priority topics of interest, such as moral injury, peer support, suicidality, military sexual trauma, and intimate partner violence. It is a name change, but not a change in the focus of our work.

How did we arrive at this name?

  • Veterans and their Family members have been continuously involved in the process of strategic planning and brand development. This has led to a new name – Atlas Institute for Veterans and Families – a name this community has advised is representative of their vision.
  • Our new name:
    • Focuses on the core audiences (CAF and RCMP Veterans and Families)
    • Moves away from being PTSD-centric
    • Grows with the organization’s potential (e.g., future mandates)
  • Brands are often created by referring to versions of archetypes developed by psychologist, Carl Jung. These archetypes are representatives of certain behaviours – the hero, for example, is a rescuer and defender. The old man represents knowledge and wisdom. By using archetypes to identify the key characteristics of Atlas, we aim to build a successful brand that will resonate with our audiences on a deep level. The three archetypes that were identified and upon which our brand was built are:
    • the explorer (to help Veterans and their Families be free of the stigma and confines of trauma-related mental health conditions)
    • the “everyman” (everyone is equal)
    • and the outlaw (to disrupt the status quo)
  • The word “atlas” resonated with Veterans and their Families given the three interlocking meanings it holds:
    • In Greek mythology, Atlas was punished for taking the Titans into battle, referring to carrying weight on one’s shoulders.
    • An atlas is a reference book of maps or charts, and reflects informed direction.
    • In architecture, an atlas is a column of support.

How does the five-year strategic plan align with this?

  • The new brand and five-year strategic plan are the outputs of an integrated process to ensure they were fully aligned with the Veteran and Family community’s vision for the organization. There have been four focus areas identified through this process, and the strategic plan has been posted on our website to ensure our actions are publicly shared and to help our community understand the work we are leading.