News Highlights – 12 Nov 11

  • Remembering (1)  “…. “You drive by the Maple Leaf plant (the smell of burning flesh and dead meat) and you have to pull over and start crying,” the former Canadian Forces warrant officer begins. “Sitting at a campfire with your kids, it smells like burning buildings. You see a little kid walking around with one arm…” The man — we’ll call him Mike — is trim and fit at age 44. He could still drop and give you 50. He’s wearing a suit jacket with his medals of service on the left side of his chest. Some are for tours in Bosnia, Haiti, Nairobi and Oka. Two decades later, he’s in the offices of the Operational Stress Injury Support Services (OSISS), a peer and family support system jointly run by the Department of National Defence and Veteran’s Affairs that currently deals with well over 5,500 active and non-active military and RCMP personnel across the country ….”
  • Remembering (2)  Modern vets say the best place to find someone who can talk you in off the ledge at 3 a.m. is Facebook. “You can’t sleep because you’re trying to deal with the nightmares – what do you do?” said retired coporal Shaun Arntsen. “You go on Facebook like every other 26-year-old.” ….”
  • Remembering (3)  “On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, Canadians are asked to pause in memory of the thousands of men and women who sacrificed their lives in military service ….” – more here, here, here and here.
  • Remembering (4)  “…. In Afghanistan, Defence Minister Peter MacKay joined Canadian and U.S. troops at Kandahar Airfield early Friday morning for Canada’s final Remembrance Day ceremony in the war-torn part of the country, marking what MacKay called “the end of an era.” More than 100 Canadian and U.S. troops stood silently by the cenotaph in the Canadian compound as MacKay slowly read the names of soldiers who have died during the decade-long mission in Afghanistan. As each name was called, families members of soldiers placed poppies at the black marble plaques on which the names and images of the fallen were etched ….”
  • Remembering (5)  Defence Minister’s statement on remembering.
  • Remembering (6)  Buzzword watch.  “It only happens once in a lifetime. Today, at the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month of the 11th year, Canadians will join in silence to pay their respects to the thousands of men and women who sacrificed their lives for our great country. To honour the courageous, DDB Canada, has donated its full resources to launch an impactful and emotional Remembrance Day campaign, which showcases war veterans in a unique and symbolic way. Developed for The Historica-Dominion Institute, the largest, independent organization dedicated to Canadian history, identity and citizenship, the campaign was created, leveraging the unique date for this year’s Remembrance Day to increase awareness and bring service stories forward in Canadian consciousness ….”
  • What the University of Alberta is doing to help wounded warriors heal better.  “…. Recognizing the needs of injured soldiers led the University of Alberta to create The Canadian Military and Veterans Chair in Clinical Rehabilitation this year. It’s hoped its research will help fill a void in how Canada deals with injured veterans. “Canada is very typical of most NATO countries in having a publicly funded health-care system. When someone is injured, either during training or when they’re serving abroad, they come back to the publicly funded system. It’s perfectly appropriate, very high-quality care,” explained faculty dean Martin Ferguson-Pell. In the United States the government created the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide patient care and federal benefits to veterans and their dependants. The American body deals only with military personnel and has also set up research centres across the United States. “When you go to Walter Reed Medical Center (Bethesda), one thing that immediately strikes you is they’re surrounded by other soldiers who are either injured or visiting,” said Ferguson-Pell. “There is this saturation of military culture within the hospital setting. That’s enormously supportive for those guys because it’s what they’re used to.” ….”  More here.
  • The physical dangers associated with a career in the Canadian Forces are readily apparent. Less obvious, perhaps, is the mental strain faced by military personnel deployed overseas. Stress triggers are a daily reality for soldiers in combat situations, and the ability to deal with stress can mean the difference between life and death. “Obviously, we can’t turn off the fear. So we teach them how to manage the stress response in unpredictable situations so they can continue to perform the job they’re there to perform,” says Lieutenant-Colonel Suzanne Bailey, a 25-year veteran of the Canadian Forces who began as a military police officer before completing the training to be a social work officer ….”
  • When you find yourself watching where you step, looking for trip wires to roadside bombs; when your hands tremble after a missile explodes metres from your outside “office;” when you hike for hours in 45 degree heat, watching Canadian and Afghan soldiers flush out Taliban in the desert, your perception of soldiers changes. Mine certainly did when I spent six weeks as a war correspondent in Afghanistan in the volcanic summer of 2009, writing for the Windsor Star and sister papers across Canada ….”
  • A young war veteran who served in the Canadian Navy and the Canadian Army says the forecasted cuts to Veterans Affairs are a blow to the younger generation of war veterans. “To be forgotten before we’re gone, that definitely hurts to hear that, but I do think that there’s definitely a part of them that are forgetting those of us that are serving, or have served,” Cpl. Donald Hookey told CBC News ….”
  • One hates to say it during Remembrance weekend, but is the Canadian government thinking of retreating back to the old days when it put the military on the back burner and starved it of funds and support? One wonders. With our combat role in Afghanistan a thing of history, there’s a feeling that Ottawa (i.e. the Harper government and most politicians) want to wash their hands of the military. Bring the boys and gals home, leave a token force there, and forget about ’em ….”
  • Senator Colin Kenny on Canada and subs“…. Thank God that somebody got to MacKay before he put his nuclear order in. Forget about nuclear subs. Forget about the lemons we bought from the Brits. Stop putting a brave face on a bad buy and stop obsessing about the North. Stop dithering and wasting huge wads of money and get us some subs that will defend Canadians where they need to be defended.”
  • Academic on peacekeeping“…. Missions such as the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, which since 2006 has created and maintained peace on the front line between Israel and Hezbollah. The UN Interim Force in Lebanon involves thousands of soldiers from Italy, France and Spain, with maritime support provided by Germany and Denmark. That’s right: the key contributors to UNIFL are NATO countries. And they’re making the world a safer place – using the tried and tested instrument of UN peacekeeping.”

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