Author Topic: Guelph-area veterans join campaign to recognize more veterans  (Read 1721 times)

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ROCKWOOD — Jacques De Winter is among proponents pushing for a volunteer service medal recognizing members of the armed forces who have made substantial but shorter-term contributions to Canada than is currently acknowledged.

The Rockwood resident isn’t taking no for an answer, despite a recent setback, because he continues to see it as a good idea.

“If you’re just shy of 12 years (of service) and haven’t gone overseas, you have no medal,” De Winter said this month. “Lots of guys who have been in service up to 12 years . . . have nothing to show for it.”

De Winter recently received a letter from the Chancellery of Honours at Rideau Hall, Governor General David Johnston’s official residence. It asserted that a policy committee ruled against the idea. It noted a 2004 federal policy that “precludes the creation of honours for long past events.” The chancellery also replied that military personnel and reserve members are appropriately eligible for a Canadian Forces Decoration, or CD, after 12 years of service. The governor general’s Office of the Secretary on Thursday confirmed the letter but declined further comment.

De Winter, who served with a Canadian contingent of United Nations peacekeeping forces in Cyprus, in the mid-1960s, doesn’t like the idea of a non-military committee ruling on what he sees as a military matter.

“These are bureaucrats calling the shots. It just isn’t right,” De Winter, a retired foreman, said.

Canadians were honored with a Volunteer Service Medal until its granting was discontinued in March, 1947.

Ottawa-area veteran Dave Palmer is among the others in the same fight as De Winter. He too has urged Ottawa to reinstate it for those veterans with fewer that 12 years of service. In a letter to Johnston, Palmer feared veterans will be “forgotten” by the public without recognition of their service.

Palmer said in an interview Wednesday a reinstated medal would fill a “void of forgetfulness” in the public record, and serve as an official recognition of the contributions of armed forces personnel around the world.

“These guys all honorably served,” said Palmer, a 20-year veteran of the air force and an airborne commando unit. He’ll continue to appeal to Ottawa.

“All I can do is keep pressing,” Palmer said.

Fear that veterans become forgotten troubles former Royal Canadian Legion Branch 234 president Mo Ferris, of Guelph. He said the ranks of older veterans are thinning and the public doesn’t know the younger vets, including those currently stationed in war-torn Afghanistan.

“Even if they served two years, they were still ready to go at a moment’s notice,” said Ferris, the local branch president for five years ending last year. The past, even the recent past, shouldn’t be so easily dismissed, he added.

Ferris spent 13 years with the Canadian navy, receiving both UN and peace-keeping medals. But Ferris said Canadian veterans have received no recognition for their efforts during the post-Second World War Cold War between the U.S. and its allies and the former Soviet Union, when many sailors, like himself, were patrolling the Canadian Arctic against any hostile threat.

Ferris likens the current situation to the decades merchant sailors had to wait for recognition. “It’s the same as the merchant marines,” Ferris said.

De Winter said that leaves proponents appealing for public support in their efforts to get veterans the recognition they merit.
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