SVC has dozens of leads sent to us. Many of these stories do not fall under the definition of Sec 419 of the Criminal Code of Canada as “Stolen Valour” so, we we thank the contributor and move on…
However, every once in a while we get sent a story that is so incredible, so fantastic, so far fetched, that it should begin “once upon a time in a dangerous land far, far away”.
This military themed fairy tale was sent to a former Minister of Veterans Affairs in an attempt to illustrate how dangerous is was for a Canadian soldier to serve as a peacekeeper on the Island of Love!
Take some time to read it all the way through, those who served in Cyprus at the time should remember these heroic actions vividly.
We’ll let you draw your own conclusions…
Lest We Forget
The following letter to Canada’s Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada is written by Robert Simpson. His description of what it is like to suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the most heart-wrenching I have read. The irony is that he served on peacekeeping missions. BONNIE
To: the Honourable Mr. Blackburn
Minster Of Veterans Affairs Canada
From: Robert Simpson
I am a Disabled Veteran. I suffer from PTSD:
Minster, I am writing you today about the terrible effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This wound has terrible effects on those of us who suffer from it. It is worse than losing a limb. In fact, Minister, it can be worse than two missing limbs. It is a proven fact that PTSD leads to heart attacks, which rob us of the jobs we’ve fought so hard to hold despite of the crippling effects of PTSD. Many have killed themselves to stop the hellish nightmares.I served in the Reserve force until 1976, then the regular forces from Oct 1976 until medically released in June 1980. During this time I was a member of the Ontario Regiment in Reserves.
During my time with Reserves, I was shot point blank in the helmet on the pistol range. A few days later, I experience two grenades thrown into my pit, then a grenade dropped at my feet. Also in Aug of 1975, I fought a forest fire at CFB Petawawa in which we were cut off by the fire and I had to call in water bombers on to our position while standing in the Petawawa River.
During basic training in 1976/77, I had a member turn around on the rifle range with a fully loaded C2 on automatic. He was disturbed and the weapon was only 18 inches from my face. I was able to talk this person into putting the weapon on safe at which time I disarmed him.
After basic training, I was posted to the 8th Canadian Hussars in Petawawa. During that time I became an original member of the 3rd Special Service Force in 1977.
From October 1978 until April 1979,
I served in Cyprus. During that tour I was wounded several times. I was in hand-to-hand combat on a number of occasions starting with the Battle of Fort Worthington, our third night on tour. In this battle, I was pulled from my bed by Turkish Commandos. The only other Canadian and myself fought our way through the dark house to the rifle rack only to find our weapons locked up. While my smaller partner called on the radio for help from the main body, I fought off the attackers by myself defending a doorway. After we had cleared the house and help had arrived, I was lead to a shower to clean myself, as I was coated head to foot with blood. They had to see if in fact I had been wounded. While I did suffer some light cuts, most of the blood was from the attackers.
Several weeks later, we were told that 40 Turkish Commandos entered the house that night, with the intent of taking us prisoner to find out who we were and then to dispose of us in the buffer zone ( IE kill us). I was then told what the captured Turk said. “That big devil killed 8 of our soldiers.”
Since that battle I have been unable to sleep without a light on as the nightmares and flashbacks come in the dark and I cannot tell if it is real life or the nightmares. I am happy to say that Thanks to the OSI Clinic in London, Ontario, I am finally able to sleep without a light most nights.
However, the flashbacks of being covered in blood haunt me to this day. I see myself covered in blood all the time; as well I relive that battle and others which happened during my tour. Sadly my wife has had to see me suffer from the flashbacks and nightmares of this tour of duty. Also we found a dead family of six including about an 18-month-old little girl whom I carried out of the house near OP Irish Bridge.
I’ll skip forward to the last two weeks of my tour. On the way out to the East line, we heard what sounded like firing. My Sgt. yelled, “Sniper. engage! ” To my horror, there was a young boy approximately six-years-old with a cap gun just 30 feet away. I had taken up first pressure and my rifle was then in effect on a hair trigger. Somehow I managed to not squeeze off that shot. I would not have missed at that range…
…I was also shot in January 1979. Luckily it was a spent round and only pieced my arm a slight distance in. Once more lucky.
What I am trying to tell you, Minister, is that the wound of PTSD is horrible in its effects on us. We fight each day for self-control so as not to lash out at those around us, to control ourselves in a crowd. We are always on alert for sudden movements or sounds. During our waking hours, we suffer flashbacks and also sleep is often not a blessing nor restful. We know not of peace and quiet, but the constant vision of war.
The effects of all of this can cause massive heart attacks, which rob us of the chance to work. Suicide is what some of us turn to to end the hell. As well we turn to booze or drugs to stop the torment. This I call tell you offers but a few hours of peace while we are passed out. It only get worse when we awaken again.
We only receive little income, yet we suffer as much as a person who loses a limb. I’d like you to try to live on less than $1,400.00 per month. I use to make $25.00 per hour.
I would not wish this hell which I go through on my worst enemy. They say they cannot make it go away. All I ask is that you at least let me live in comfort, above the poverty line. I kept my part of the deal Minister… I served where you sent me, under the conditions of that area of operation. It was a war zone, not a special duty area. The deal was I do what you order me to do and if I can no longer do my job, you would take care of me. I kept my part of the deal. I served in a hell hole. When will Ottawa keep their part?
PTSD is living always in hell with a continuous running of that hell which we served in. I with unloaded rifle was forced to use only my fists and boots and a pick handle against armed troops. As well we did not receive any UN pay. It was split between the Turks and Greeks. Minister, I was shot in Jan 1979. I feel that I paid for the bullet which violated my body. When it came time to receive my medal, it was tossed to me by a hungover officer after double duty on OPs ( 16 hours), not pinned on my chest like the majority of my unit. Many wrongs have been visited on me, a Nobel Peace Prize winner. I did not see any Peace during my tour, only war, and I don’t know any now. It will end when I die…. I hope.
We don’t ask for much, just what was promised: a proper amount of pension for the rest of our lives, treatment for our wounds and respectful treatment of us.
I am more than willing to come to Ottawa to speak to any Veterans committee hearing or even you. I am more than willing to speak about PTSD and its effects as well as the treatment I receive. Also the lack of pensions. Please understand, Minister, I am thankful for all the help Veterans affairs Canada has given me. I would point out that Colleen Garlough of the Windsor Office has helped me so much. I am lucky to have had her looking after me. From others, I hear of VAC workers who are not as helpful. To best serve a Veteran, you need to have Veterans manning those VAC offices.
Canadian Soldiers are the best in the world. While the new charter has done some really good things for Veterans, it needs to be changed to lifetime pensions for us and at a decent level of income. More treatment centers like Parkwood are needed.
In closing, I’d love to see my pension fixed to a lifetime pension and improved treatment for the hellish wound called PTSD. I did as Ottawa commanded. Please in return give us livable pensions and good treatment for our wounds, both the physical as well as the terrible wounds to our minds. Help Canadians before helping other countries. We are owed that courtesy.
Also minister I speak not only of myself… but for the 10s of thousands of men and women of the Canadian Forces who have and do serve this great country called Canada. The people of Canada walk everyday in peace and safety far from the horrors of war and strife. Why? Because we left these shores to ensure that war never visits this country’s shores, but is fought many miles away.
We served and kept our part of the deal. It’s time Ottawa keeps their part. It is a national shame that Canada’s Veterans live in squalor without a roof over their heads or food to eat. We suffer greatly. Too many have died at their on hand because the was no treatment or that treatment was slow to come. As well, because we were unable to work, there was no money to keep us fed and housed in comfort, which we earned the right to. We freely served only to be left without the means to live with dignity for the rest of our years. It is time to right this wrong, here now, today.
God Bless Canada and her Soldiers and Veterans!