Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Respect For Our Heroes - Wootton Bassett

I as some of you know live in Canada were for years our fallen heroes were brought down the Highway 401 from Trenton to Toronto and people lined the overpasses and after a online petition started it was renamed "Highway Of Heroes" I am very proud to have stood at over fifteen of these processions but wish I didn't have to be on any at all.

For four years the people of Wootton Bassett, a town deep in the English countryside, have played a solemn role in Britain’s war life. Every time a serviceman is killed in Afghanistan or Iraq, his or her body is returned to the nearby base of RAF Lyneham and then driven slowly through the heart of the Wiltshire town. There, hundreds and often thousands of residents have stood silently as the cortège passes by on its way to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

The tradition so touched Britain that Queen Elizabeth II did something no monarch had done in more than a century: she gave permission for the ancient town to add “Royal” to its name. It is a bittersweet recognition. In September, RAF Lyneham will shut down, and the repatriations will return to Brize Norton. It is now up to Oxfordshire to plan a route that continues the tradition that Royal Wootton Bassett started.

According to an article I was reading today a group has complained about the route their fallen soldiers are driven down and want it to be changed :

"“I am not sure taking coffins in hearses past schools, past families, past married quarters is necessarily the thing that everybody would wish to see … the focus must be on the families of the dead service personnel. They are the people who care most. That is where our focus is.”

The Ministry of Defence said the route from RAF Brize Norton, where flights had landed until the runway was closed for repair work in 2007, was decided by West Oxfordshire District Council but claimed that the side gate would be used to ensure minimal disruption to normal operations."

You can read the full article on THE TELEGRAPH WEBSITE

A Face Book group has been created called "Respect For Heroes" to protest this decision and you can check it out by clicking HERE or on the photo below :

Sunday, June 26, 2011

What is a hero - by Jim Seggie

This write up was sent to me by Jim Seggie (Canadian Forces) Jim is also the father of Cpl Mike Seggie who was killed in Afghanistan in September 2008.  I met Jim & Shirley seggie on Facebook after I attened the funeral of Pte. Chad Horn who was also killed the same day along with Cpl Andrew Grenon.  Jim emailed me this and asked that I share it on this blog page.  Thank You Jim for sharing with us.

The word “HERO” means many different things to many different people. The definition, according to Dictionary.com is:

A person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal

I think we all have or own heroes, whether they have performed heroic acts or not, or have what is considered heroic qualities. We all have our own ideas of what is a hero is, or should be.

Some of us think sports stars are heroes, and to an extent I can relate to that. I do admire the skill, the talent, the poise that a pro football quarterback shows when he’s surrounded by four or five 300 pound defensive linemen, or an NHL goaltender under fire at close range from a 100 mph slapshot, but to me – they are not heroes.

While rock stars who sell millions of dollars of albums are very talented – to me – they are not heroes. They rarely are in dangerous situations that see their lives put at risk.

Celebrities are not heroes. They are celebrities. We too often confuse the terms “celebrity” and “hero”. Celebrities seek out the spotlight, expect people to fawn over them and to bend to their every wish – heroes do not.

Movie stars are not heroes. They get paid more money than we will ever see to portray heroes, generally inaccurately.

Recently, my wife and I had the honour of attending a ceremony in Rideau Hall, Ottawa that recognized acts of extraordinary courage. You have probably never heard of the people I am going to tell you about.

One of them is a young lady, a Canadian, who was then 11 years old, who saved her mom’s life. The citation reads:


Miranda Suggitt, S.C. Lindsay, Ontario Star of Courage
On November 22, 2005, Miranda Suggitt, then 11 years old, risked her life to prevent her mother from being shot. During the evening, Miranda’s father became intoxicated and violent, threatening her mother with a rifle. The rifle went off, missing the woman, who quickly ran outside. Miranda’s father followed his wife and pointed the weapon at her. Without any regard for her own life, Miranda stepped between the two and begged her father not to shoot. He yelled at her to move, but she stood her ground until others helped to take the rifle away and hold him until the police arrived. Through her actions, Miranda showed great courage and prevented a terrible tragedy.

Another hero is this young man, a fellow Manitoban:
Scott Borlase, M.B. Winnipeg, Manitoba Medal of Bravery
On January 31, 2009, 14-year-old Scott Borlase was instrumental in keeping his sister safe during a snowstorm on Lake Winnipeg, in Manitoba. Scott, his 11-year-old sister, and their father had started their snowmobile outing on a clear morning, but by early afternoon the weather had changed. They lost sight of the marked trail due to the severe winds and heavy snowfall. At one point, Scott’s father got off the snowmobile and collapsed to the ground. Unable to find a pulse, Scott made the decision to go for help with his sister. In the blinding storm, Scott drove in a straight line hoping to eventually reach the shoreline. Once at the shore, Scott was able to use his cell phone to call 911 and provide directions to their location. He brought his sister into a bush area away from the biting wind, and used a solar blanket to keep them warm until help finally arrived several hours later. Another search party located his father who, sadly, did not survive.

Two acts of extraordinary courage made all the more extraordinary by the relative youth of the recipients - have been well and justifiably recognized - But there are everyday heroes we don’t always recognize as heroes.

The local volunteer coaches– who patiently take those little people – our kids and grandkids – and teach them the intricacies of hockey, or baseball, or football or …or whatever sport or activity the kids decide to play. They do this of their own free will and on their own time, often without due recognition. They may not be perfect – but they are true heroes.

The person who stops to aid someone who has a flat tire or broken down car – that is a hero to the person in need at that time. It may seem like a small inconsequential action – but to the stranded motorist, their hero has found them and they have found their hero.

The teacher that goes the extra mile to mentor a student – to support and encourage their students to do their very best – to that student, that teacher is a hero. That teacher may have had to work after hours, without recognition or compensation.

Our police, firefighters, soldiers and paramedics – to those that need their services, they are heroes. We don’t often think about it and tend to take them for granted, but they do heroic things on a daily basis, whether it be rescuing someone from a life threatening situation, or just being there to ensure that we, as a community, are safe.

To those people who live along the banks of the Red River - and theAssiniboine River – the volunteers who gave their own time and effort to help their fellow Manitobans – they are heroes, and I am sure we can all agree on that point. Some of them have willingly put their own safety in jeopardy so that others may be safe. They are true heroes.

True heroes are easy to find – you just don’t realize it until you think about it. Our heroes are in our own neighbourhood, working, living, and going about their business, just like we do, without notice, without fanfare and no expectation of reward. I found some heroes hanging out in my house the other day…my wife Shirley, my daughter Michelle and her husband Mat, and our two grandchildren, Carson and Stella. They are what I consider to be heroes.

In fact all you have to do is look in front of you, behind you and either side of you, and you will soon find a hero.

In Memory of Cpl Mike Seggie KIA Sept. 2008

A Hard Truth - by Melissa Garrison

“A Hard Truth”

A major topic that I hear about most often is the War in Afghanistan. Should we be there? A large majority say no, but are they really that informed? I honestly don’t think so. I am coming from the perspective of a family member of a soldier. I have seen information that is there for the public, but is behind what is on the front page. You have to do a little digging to find it. I am offering contradictory information on the most used points. Why we are there, the progress that has been made, the point of view of the Afghanis, and soldiers, who the Taliban are, and more in-depth information. Most of this information is buried deep where it is harder to find. Putting this information out there is important, because if people are not informed about what they are dealing with than they are liable to make mistakes that could compromise lives.

The first thing that should be addressed is why we are there. There are different opinions depending on who you talk to. The first, more factual reason, is because of the NATO treaty; “an attack against any one of them is an attack on all.” This is the mutual aid pact that involves all the members of the United Nations. The 9/11 attack on the USA by Al Qaeda was what started it and is the main reason for us being there. The more moral reasons for us being there is to give women and children rights, which they had before the Taliban took over, freedom, which they also used to have, stopping torture and public execution, and right to have access to information. They are also working on a major drug problem. Opium that is grown in Afghanistan is actually where the majority of it is grown. Crop areas are all over Afghanistan and Soldiers are trying to convince farmers to turn their drug farms into wheat farms. This proves to be difficult when the public is so ruled by fear when most of their drug lords are either a member of the Taliban or Al Qaeda. Canada is also building a relationship with the people, contrary to popular belief that the people of Afghanistan hate us and want us gone. Most of the Soldiers know why we are there, like Major Brent Purcell who when asked why we were in Afghanistan replied, “To prevent terrorism from spreading and to bring security and development to Afghanistan.” These soldiers know why we are there, and they believe in the mission. “Radical Islam has already demonstrated that they know no boundaries regarding who they kill, or who they will use to kill. They will escalate the violence at every opportunity, and the more potent the weapons they can get their hands on the more likely they are to use them. Our being in Afghanistan is not only trying to help the failed state, it is keeping radical Islam occupied and focused there,” says Noel Dykes, a retired Artillery officer of 35 years. This mission is important, the danger is real and it will not just go away if we ignore it.

The Taliban took over Afghanistan in 1996. Before they took over Afghanistan was nowhere near as brutal as it is now. Woman’s rights for one, was not much of an issue, nor did it need to be. Girls were allowed to attend not only grade school but also University. Women used to be allowed to work, especially in Kabul, the Capital city. At Kabul University, 50% of students were girls, and 60% of teachers were women. Of all school teachers in Kabul, 70% were women. As for two other important jobs in Kabul, 50% of women were civilian government workers and 40% were doctors. Kabul was also the first place that the Taliban took over. They went in and took away all women’s rights. Forced them to cover themselves completely, forbid them to go outside the home without their husband escort, and took away all of their basic human rights. They could not go to see a doctor most of the time and when they could they had to sit with a hanging sheet separating them. Many women died of curable deceases because of this. If they showed even a small part of skin or were raped they were stoned to death. Anything to do with making themselves more beautiful was forbidden. Civilians used to have television, sports and games, which were banned when the Taliban took over. The sports stadiums were used to murder people who misbehaved, questioned, or refused the Taliban. Men also were not required to have long beards. When the Taliban came they arrested anyone whose beard was too short. They ruled by fear and brutality that was not known to the Afghanistan people before they took over.

There are a lot of people who think that there has not, nor there ever will be, progress in Afghanistan. There has been plenty of progress, you just have to look for it. Some of these include the Kandahar Rapid Village Development Project, Integrated Alternative Livelihoods Program in Kandahar Province, Education Quality Improvement Project, Vocational Training for Afghan Women, Food aid to Vulnerable Families, Tuberculosis Control and Polio Eradication Program, Maternal Health Initiative in Kandahar Province, National Solidarity Program, Afghanistan Sub-national Governance Program, and two of the larger projects that will make the most impact are the Dahla Dam and Irrigation System and Training and Mentoring the Afghan National Security Forces. Working on repairing the Dahla Dam is important to strengthening the Government, and economic growth of Afghanistan. It will provide water to most of Kandahar’s population. It will also create 10,000 seasonal jobs and will provide irrigated land to farmers which will help build up agriculture. In order for Afghanistan to be able to stand on its own, they must have stable security. Training the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan National Police (ANP) is one of the top priorities. About 2,400 ANA are stationed in Kandahar which is a large improvement over 2006 when there were only 600. Right now Canada is managing five battalions that have about 650 soldiers in each one. Training is still needed to ensure that the ANA will be capable of keeping things in check. More than 650 ANP have been trained but there is still literacy, corruption, and drug abuse problems that are still, and need to be, addressed. These are only the bare minimum of a long list of what is being done in Afghanistan.

We hardly ever hear about all the good that is being done in Afghanistan. We will hear about all the explosive IED’s that kill a few solders, but never why they are risking life and limb. Just a fun fact, they defuse 25 IED’s a day, which is a lot more than the number that get set off. Does the media report stuff like that? Not of course not. Michael Bergan, a soldier who was overseas, feels that the media is not informing the public of everything. “No the media does not report everything. Remember that they are a company with shareholders ect and ‘bad’ news sells better than ‘good’ news. Also a lot of these journalists stay within the confines of the camps too. Not all those do as I’m sure you are aware of the Canadian Journalist that was killed recently. Lastly, it is to be noted that if you were to watch Al Jezeera you will have a totally different view. I myself have never held much faith in the media as I have seen such clear mistakes in editing ect that I do not believe half of it as being correct.” This reporter that he mentions, Michelle Lang, was out of the safe zone because she knew that the truth was not being told and she wanted to find it for herself and share it with everyone else. Bergan also feels that the public is not informed of the war the way they should be. When asked if they were he replied, “Not really unless you are willing to research many different views and opinions on your own. I think the mainstream media such as CTV etc is just showing a very slim picture of what actually goes on.” Some reporters do not even bother reporting on certain things because they know that the story would get buried before it could reach the public. Soldiers know it, reporters know it, and so shouldn’t the public know it too?

The general public that has basically nothing to do with the war form all sorts of opinions based on what they think is concern for the soldiers and their families. I have heard the argument that the soldiers should be brought back, like they know how the solders feel. The majority of them do not want to come back. Most that are severely injured wish to go back as soon as possible. They know that their mission is important because they have actually been there. They have experienced things first hand. Major Brent Purcell expressed just how important he thinks the mission is. “I feel the mission is extremely important and I believe in it. I only hope that we do not abandon the Afghan people too early before they are ready to take on the responsibility for their own security.” If you ask other soldiers, many will answerer the same way. The families also have to suffer through letting their loved ones go into danger, and although people think they are helping by saying that “the troops should be brought back”, they have no idea just how much worse they are making it for the families. Speaking to many families who have gone through such trauma, it is obvious how frustrated they are towards the general public. One military wife who was so sick of what she had to hear wrote a blog entry about it. “Why are we In Afghanistan? A question very abstractedly answered by the media and interpretations from the general public. However, for us, as military, it is very simple… We are there to create peace and stability, infrastructure, water, primarily, and to help organize and build the ANA and police forces period. It is our job to be there, we were not forced to be there we want to be there.” A snippet from a very moving article “A Voice that is Seldom Heard” which is absolutely right, who ever hears these things from anyone? Who bothers to ask? It is rare to find a military family that does not support the war or who is not angered by the statements of the public. The daughter of the fallen soldier MCpl Allan Stewart, Brittany Stewart, says, “well most of my friends made fun of me (well there not really my friends), and saying mean things. and it made me really sad and saying that they are wasting their time and stuff. I try not to listen to them.” For those that are against the war because it is unfair to the soldiers or their families please don’t use us as an excuse for your own ignorance; it’s insulting.

Another reason people use to not be at war is that it is cruel to the people of Afghanistan. The truth is that they have seen much crueler things than a country fighting for their freedom. They once had the basic human rights only to watch them get taken away by the Taliban. They will be tortured or killed for even the smallest things. One thing we all have in common is that every person wants the freedom to do as they please. The majority of civilians want our help. In Brent Purcell’s experience, he knows how they feel. “I would say that the majority of the Afghan people are grateful we are there. The average Afghan citizen wants the same things as we Canadians want. They want safety, security, food and a better life for their children.” Michael Bergan shares his opinion. “Yes and no. of course the ‘yes’ ones are the people that have seen us as a non threat i.e. the civilians that we are helping via medical help and security and the ‘no’ ones are the ones fighting against us i.e. the Taliban and radical extremist groups.” Afghan people are willing to risk their lives for the freedom we are trying to give them. One Muslim women is very clear in her opinion. Benazir Bhutto, assassinated Prime Minister of Pakistan, talks about how many large Muslim leaders were outraged on the attack on their people after 9/11, “Obviously (and embarrassingly), Muslim leaders, masses, and even intellectuals are quite comfortable criticizing outsiders for the harm inflicted of fellow Muslims, but there is deadly silence when they are confronted with Muslim-on-Muslim violence.” Over 80 women who were still trapped in their brutal lives without hope of escape committed suicide by lighting themselves on fire. This is better than a few years of war and eventually peace? The right to vote was given to Afghanistan and in the first year especially, it was a threat to anyone’s life to participate. Anyone who voted had to get a mark on their finger, and the Taliban targeted anyone with this mark. Did people shy away and not use this new right they were given? No, they risked their lives just to vote. When hairdressers were banned for women, and anyone who was caught running or going to a salon would be shot on the spot, did they give up and stay home? No, women set up salons in their basement and got great business. Women risked their lives just to get a haircut. It was not about the haircut, it was about getting freedom where they had none. If the people of Afghanistan don’t want the freedom we are giving them, then why do they risk there lives for the little things we take for granted every day?

Should we be in Afghanistan? The answer is in another two questions. Do we want to let others suffer while we sit comfortably at home? Do we want to risk the lives of each other on the hope that the radical terrorists will leave us alone? The answer is clear but most people don’t want to see it. I for one know that I don’t want to take the risk.

Written by Melissa Garrison a grade twelve student whos brother is currently serving with the Canadian Forces, Please free to leave a comment and I will share them with their family. Thank You

Friday, June 17, 2011

Benefit concert for Hero To Hero - Team Canada

Hero to Hero US started shortly after September 11th, 2003 they are a troop morale organization that encourage all first responders to send the shirts off their back to our troops with messages of support from home on them. From the Hero To Hero.US site "wanted to send some shirts to our troops to let them know they were not forgotten, no matter our personal politics or views on the war" On the main page of there site it displays ""Troops don't choose their battles any more than firefighters or police" which I think says it all as to what they do and why they do it.

You can read their full history on their website

Kevin McHarg a firefighter in Sarnia, Ontario is the Canadian Ambassador of Hero To Hero and runs and maintains Hero to Hero - Team Canada and has taken part in a lot of our efforts such as "The Gratitude Project" and "Operation you are not alone" . Having met both Liz & Kevin in person and seeing the work they do first hand I have a lot of respect for the both of them and glad to help them out with their projects.

That being said on Sunday July 10th from 4pm to 1030pm the Newbury Firefighters Assoc and Br 583 will be hosting a benifit concert for Hero To Hero - Team Canada featuring The Zoller Boyz and Country artist Julian Austin. As you may or may not know Julian Austins song "The Red & White" was the inspiration for Thankasoldier.net and he puts on one heck of a show. He has also performed many times for our soldiers overseas and has a love and respect for our troops which to this day blows me away.

If you are in the Newbury area and would like to help out this amazing group you can RSVP on Facebook HERE!!!


Click the photo above to view on Facebook

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The most amazing email I've ever received

I want to share with you this email I received today to my Thankasoldier.net inbox, it took me awhile to compose myself after reading this. I have removed the soldiers full name at his request. Wow is all I can say right now :

Hi Dave my name is PFC **** Robinson and I wanted to write you personally and thank you for the “Operation you are not alone “ video on YouTube. I don’t know any other way to say this than what has happened in the last month has probably saved my life.

First of all let me start by telling you that I had just completed my fourth tour in IRAQ three months ago and have been having a really hard time since returning after the last one. I found myself snapping over the littlest little things and I had gone through twenty years or more of my life without a temper but the slightest thing could set me off.

My girlfriend of eight years had enough and me and her have since gone our separate ways which led me to attempting suicide via taking a full bottle of anti-depressants I was on for lack of sleep and other things and luckily a friend found me and I made it ok.

About a month ago, I was feeling so down and that no one cared about me, I was seriously thinking about trying this again. I was on Facebook and saw your video posted on a friends wall and decided to check it out. I was blown away as I hadn’t even heard of your site or the other amazing videos you have there.

I was reading through the comments and I saw one from a Canadian soldier who had returned last year and had gone through counseling and wanted to speak with other soldiers about their experiences confidentially so I sent him a message.

Four weeks have gone by and today Dave, I met him for the first time as turns out we’re only a four hour drive from each other. I have finally gotten up the nerve to start counseling professionally and hope maybe by me doing this who knows how many other soldiers it may help. I know you are planning to put together videos of people holding signs telling us it’s ok to ask for help but this first video has already made an amazing difference in my life already, honestly I can say it may have saved my life.

I also read your “My battle with PTSD” blog and when I read the news that you had been attacked and stabbed by those guys and came very close to dying that night clearly there was a reason that you were kept alive that night and it was to start your Thank A Soldier website and make a difference in the lives of our soldiers and their families.

Thank you to you and to all the members of your pages and everyone that shares the video on their page, you never know who’s life you could be changing or saving.

PFC **** Robinson

Feel free to leave a comment and message of support on this blog for PFC Adams.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Tim Hortons In Afghanistan - 4yrs in review

On March 12th, 2007 I created a little Facebook group Called "Tim Hortons For Our Troops after I had heard that there had been a location opened in Afghanistan for troops and that they were paying for their coffee. What I didn’t know at the time but found out later was that Tim Hortons did not charge franchise fees and that all profit from the Timmies location go back in to the Military Families fund.

The membership of this group grew very fast in just under a week it had already gained 4000 members and people wanted to help. Here we are four years later and group members have sent over $45,000 in free coffee. The Royal Canadian Legions troop morale fun had sent over $300,000 in free coffee to our troops deployed in Afghanistan.

Today I found out that with the Canadian combat mission in Afghanistan ending, Tim Hortons is bringing its location back home and will be shutting its doors so I wanted to share with you some of the stories from this project I have come across in the last four years.

When my 92 year old grandmother in Grand- Falls Newfoundland heard m

e on VOCM News (A station in Newfoundland) talking about Tim Hortons for our troops she wanted to get involved. Her and my aunt Shirley went out to Tim Hortons to buy their paper certificates and they wrote “God Bless you and stay safe” on every single one of them. About six months later the Military Family Resource Center had delivered all the certificates I had delivered that were sent to them from all over Canada. At the time I was running coffee4ourtroops.com as a related group and I received a very nice email one day from an American soldier who had received the certificates from my grandmother and wanted to say thank you. I printed off the email and had it sent to my Nan and to this day she still has it framed and tells people about the nice letter she got back from a U.S. Soldier.

On November 20th, 2007 just after moving to Calgary from Toronto I went out to check the mail and saw that I had received something from the Tim Hortons head office. I opened it and my jaw nearly hit the floor when I saw that they had sent me the last remaining Tim Hortons Kandahar hat that they were giving away as “Roll up the Rim” Afghanistan and apparently soldiers were trading digital cameras for them. I wear this hat proudly to this day and didn’t want to put it away or on a shelf.

In February of 2009, we had a new manager starting at the company I used to work for and I had heard that he had done three tours in Afghanistan as a sniper and was looking forward to meeting him. After about week of him being there I went to introduce myself and told him about the site and what we were doing. He not only had heard of it , he had received a stack of Tim Hortons certificates from a group of grade four students at a school in Toronto, Ontario. He said “Tomorrow, I have to bring something to show you” . The next day he came in to work and showed me one of the certificates he had received and on it was a drawing of a heart, with the words “I LOVE YOU – Please come home safe” from a student in grade three. He told me he had used the other one’s but kept this one in his pocket during all three of his tours and wanted to keep it with him until he did make it home.

A few months later, I received an email from a group of soldiers that were just back from tour and had received certificates from a elementary school in Toronto, Ontario and they wanted me to arrange to go in to meet the kids and say thank you. I contacted the principal and told her and they were very excited to meet them. So I had arranged this and i didn’t know that they were bringing the entire school in for an assembly in which I had to give a speech in front of. A little nerve wrecking to say the least but before I got up to speak the principal gave an amazing speech about how the kids should never feel like ideas are insignificant as “One drop of water in the ocean is all it takes” The soldiers then spoke and I’ve never seen a more quiet bunch of kids in all my life and that is one day I will never forget.

Another email I had received was from the mother of a grade four student who’s class wanted to send letters to troops with Tim Hortons certificates in them. The parent teach association voted against this 16-1 as they said it promoted “The War” and they wanted no part of it. I sent out the story to my then 2 million members of Thank A Soldier (Now 4.1 million) and the emails began to flow. Then came media coverage and the PTA called a meeting and over 300 parents showed up to voice there displeasure with the decision. The next vote was 17-0 in favour and our soldiers received letters and Tim hortons from home.

In 2009 after two years of running Tim Hortons for Our Troops and www.coffee4ourtroops.com I went to log on to the site and saw a message from a company in Pakistan that had shut my site down with some pretty hateful messages all over my main page towards our troops. I wanted to give up and throw in the towel as all my work, my pictures and website was gone. This group had totally destroyed the server that was hosting it. I was talking with the mother of a fallen soldier who died serving his country at the age of 24 and she said “You can’t quit, I’ve met so many people from your site and other fallen soldiers families that have helped me grieve. When soldiers are killed in Afghanistan the other soldiers have to keep going the next day and move on” Those words will stick with me for as long as I live.

I wanted to thank every one who sent certificates when we were doing this, who invited people to the groups and have always supported this and my other projects. Thank You to Tim Hortons for supplying the location at no cost and allowing the proceeds sold to go back to the military families that need it.

I think I need a extra large double double now! J

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Why I respect the Boston Bruins & Bobby Orr

I am going to tell you a very special story but out of respect for the family I am not going to be posting names but I did get the ok to tell this.

A few years ago a Canadian soldier had been killed while serving his country in Afghanistan and he was a very proud Boston Bruins fan and made this very well known to those he knew and even had photos taken with a Bruins flag while on tour in Afghanistan. He left behind a fiancée and very young daughter.

A few months after he had passed she received in the mail a large parcel from the Boston Bruins, in this package was a signed jersey from the entire team and tickets for a game in Boston. The soldiers favorite player of all time was Bobby Orr and the last thing that she pulled out of the parcel was a game worn signed Bobby Orr jersey with a note to her daughter that read.

"I was your dad's hero, but he is mine" - Bobby Orr

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

How a Typo Destroyed a Veteran

A Tragedy of Errors

How a Typo Destroyed a Veteran

By Jeff Rose-Martland


Why is there a man slowly starving himself in Charlottetown?

Because we destroyed his life. Twice.

The first came when he developed PTSD in service to Canada. He served in the Royal 22nd Regiment and was posted to Bosnia and Croatia during the Balkans Crisis. He gave his mental health to his country because we required his service. His PTSD got him discharged from the military and sent home to recover.

He had his grandmother’s house and a bit of land. He loves animals. With his pension he could renovate the 160 year old house, rescue animals, do his art, and, hopefully, find peace.

Then we destroyed his life again.

There was an error at Veterans’ Affairs. In September, mid-renovations, his pension was deposited into somebody else’s bank account. He called and was assured everything was correct. It wasn’t and he didn’t get his money. Same in October. Repeated calls were not accomplishing anything; VAC said everything was OK.

It wasn’t. Bills weren’t being paid. Debts were rising. The furnace had been removed from the house and there was no money to put it back. Even the animals were worried. When November’s pension also didn’t arrive, the man had to tell the contractors he couldn’t pay them. Tools went down and trucks pulled away. Damp settled into the house.

December: four months of no pension and living off credit cards without making payments. To save them from starving to death, the man had to bring rescued cats back to the shelter where they would be put down. The house had developed mould. There was no money for Christmas. Veteran’s Affairs assured the man that his money had been deposited for him.

The man was found on his land, drunk in a truck with the exhaust connected to the cab. He was rushed to hospital, treated, and admitted to psychiatry.

January. No pension. A VAC representative finally thought to give the man the account number where the money was being sent. A flurry of phone calls and several days later, five months of pension arrived into the correct account. Problem solved, as far as VAC was concerned.

Except the damage had been done. The house? Uninhabitable due to moisture, mould, and no furnace. His rescued animals? Dead. His credit? Ruined, interest continuing to drive his debt. His possessions, his art and supplies? In a storage locker. He stays in a camper when not sleeping at his mother’s. His shattered psyche does triple back-flips when he thinks about what he has lost and almost lost. What should have been recovery and rest is a nightmare that almost garnered him a final peace.

Six-and-a-half years later and circumstances have not changed, except for a humiliating bankruptcy. Despite letters and calls and appeals, Veterans’ Affairs accepts no responsibility for the havoc their error caused. They acknowledge there was an issue with the account but maintain the corrected number and issue of back pay fixed everything. They will not apologize.

It was a simple mistake, easily made, easily checked, and easily fixed. It should not have taken five months to fix. Account numbers can be confirmed by phone. Banks reverse transfers within a day. Once action was taken, it took just five days to correct. If those five days had been in September instead of January, none of these events would have occurred. We can all see that, except, apparently, VAC.

And that is why Fabien Melanson is slowly starving, sitting in front of the headquarters of Veterans Affairs Canada in Charlottetown. All he wants is his house returned to the condition it was in before this began. That and an apology. Is that not small payment for a man’s existence?

“They kill me in 2004. They only thing left is just my bones and flesh and that's it. So I am here to give them the rest of my remains." - Fabien Melanson, 6 June 2011


Jeff Rose-Martland is the President of Our Duty, a citizens’ organization dedicated to ensuring fair treatment for Canada’s veterans.

Update : The All Star Dad Contest

I`ve just received an update that CPL Spingle is in FOURTH place and he just needs to get in the top three to win a trip for him and his family to The Grey Cup in Vancouver Please CLICK HERE to go to the Dove site and click SUPPORT.

I was contacted tonight by a friend of mine Mandy Spingle who has entered her husband CPL Ian Spingle in the DOVE All Star Dad Contest. I met Mandy a few years ago when her husband was on tour in Afghanistan and we became great friends while he was away. When he came back I became friends with him on Facebook and have known him over a year now and would love to see him win this. Here is Mandy’s write up.

My husband is a father of 4 wonderful children and a member of the Canadian Military. For all the time he is away from him children he makes up for when he is home. Never taking time for him self if there is something going on in town for the kid's he always takes them no matter how tired he may be. Not only does my husband take great pride in his Job but he comes home to his children and gives them all the time he has free for them. My husband never asks for anything and to win this for a fathers day gift would be the best thing the kids could give him. Please help us win this for our daddy CPL Spingle..


1. CLICK HERE and click Support NOW

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3. Leave a comment of support in the comments section

Our soldiers give so much, they work 12 hour days without question not knowing if they’ll return safe and this takes not even five seconds to click on.

You can vote ONCE A DAY!