Today Canada salutes our veterans on the holiday known as Remembrance Day.
My father was a veteran of World War II. He volunteered at age 18 and needed his parents’ consent, which they gave with mixed emotions (My grandfather’s brother lost his life in WWI and was a hero). Dad even gave up his high school graduation as he was in training in Halifax.
My father’s dream was to fly planes. He wanted to see action as a fighter pilot. However, none of that happened as Dad was seen as unfit to fly due to sinus problems (which, as a side-note, I inherited). So, he trained to be radio engineer so he could at least work on the planes he loved.
Dad was stationed at Coal Harbour, which is on the North Western tip of Vancouver Island, in British Columbia, Canada. His job was to keep the radios in the place in working order, and to monitor the radio signals in case the Japanese decided to attack there. Thankfully they did not. But I feel safe knowing that he and all of the other soldiers were there ready to do battle if needed.
My Dad was a very proud man and he felt very guilty about the fact that he didn’t see “active duty”. In his last few years, before he passed in early 2012, the guilt he had held inside for so long came out like an erupting volcano.
He never wanted to contact the Veteran’s Affairs Canada (VAC) office for anything. However, he was losing his hearing very quickly and it was hard on all of us because he couldn’t hear half of what we were saying. My sister finally called the VAC’s office and learned that he could get a hearing test and if he was in need of hearing aids because it was determined that much of the hearing loss was from working in the planes and on the radios without proper ear protection. From there, they gave him a pension, eventually a wheelchair when he needed it, and when he moved in with us after we realized he couldn’t care for himself anymore, the VAC provided home care service so that I didn’t have to get him ready in the mornings. It also included respite time if I couldn’t leave him alone and only cost Dad 16.95 a day over what the VAC paid because of his totally income.
While the VAC said that this is what they are there for, and would have provided more; however Dad was adamant not to rely on them because they had given him a university degree (in pharmacy) plus housing and expenses while he was in school. To him that was enough for his participation in the war.
There is a lot of talk right now in Ottawa that the veterans are not getting what they deserve. There are not a lot of WWI vets left, but those who are have needs. But let’s not forget the more recent vets as well. They need the support of the VAC and the respect and thanks from the Nation for their service.
I dedicate this blog to all the men and women who have ever served their country anywhere around the world, young and old, living or passed on. Thank you so very much.