Apathy, the overwhelming urge to curl up into a ball and quit. Apathy is the craftiest demon I have ever had to fight. For me, seeking out empathy (to understand and share the feelings of another) and witnessing its effect on others, is in my experience what defeats apathy. Bare with me as an old soldier does his best to explain how a quest for empathy to defeat apathy for me, turned into a National ‘ongoing service’ organization with lessons learned that seem paramount to pass on today. Apparently, we all have a lot of time to sit back and reflect on what changes have been thrust on us all. So pull up a chair with a refreshment of your choice, or more than one as this may take a while. In the last few hours General Jonathan Vance the Chief of Defense Staff commanding our Canadian Armed Forces placed our military forces on a War footing to prepare our soldier’s and citizens for bitter duties ahead thanks to the Covid -19 Pandemic challenge. His message went 5 pages. After doing my best here, I’m awed by his brevity.. Consider this period in your life as if you are now on a long cross country ride, long hard days and hidden twists and turns. So get comfortable, pace yourself and take breaks often by checking out every other function of the Veterans Channel!
As you will learn in this narrative, I have faced many life tests, as has everyone. My military background as with all veterans somehow uniquely suites us to help in today’s ever changing situation. As a Reconnaissance Sergeant commanding the Sniper Section of Recce Pathfinder Platoon of the Airborne Regiment it was my duty to patrol and report on the enemy situation in front of me and give insights as to how to defeat the enemy. I have continued on “patrol” following that mission since I was released from a military hospital in 1987. The enemy to me was and will always be apathy. ‘Shell Shock’, Battle exhaustion or PTSD, no matter what we called it was killing as many of my brothers and sisters as combat. Empathy for others and bringing together veteran and civilian to unite and defeat any challenge has been in my experience the key to strengthening individuals and serving communities. Apathy, not pain nor physical limits, was what seemed like an anchor holding me back. Everywhere I looked I saw barriers to my ever ‘getting back to normal’… read on as I attempt to identify the single most important survival tool I have discovered and have witnessed making a true difference.
Each of us has a purpose. The role of the Veterans Channel is to edify and highlight the Veterans experience. Critical now during Covid -19s stunning advance and hold effecting our entire planet. As host of the Veterans Channel programming “Riding with Heroes” it has been my role to identify heroes based on a lifetime of seeking out those among us who stands tallest when times are toughest. As a veteran dealing with life altering changes, (going from top physical condition after a decade of intensive service as an infantryman deployed on every type of winter, jungle, desert or mountain warfare operations worldwide to permanently disabled) empathy for anyone outside my immediate family or the soldiers I served alongside was not at the top of my priority list. In fact, empathy as a sniper or combat infantryman does not go hand in hand. It always takes a life changing moment to shake up and change your path. My mission as a Infantryman changed in a flash when I struck the ground after a 180’ foot free fall parachute collapse on a jump involving a midair collision with an unconscious paratrooper. This causing critical spinal and orthopedic injuries requiring 20 surgery’s and a decade of rehabilitation. My life’s mission changed instantly from “To close with and destroy the enemy with the least amount of ammo possible’ to Orthopaedic bedridden patient. I was forced to take the time to heal my shattered body by hardening my mind to the reality that for me there was a “new normal.” Once I understood and accepted that reality, thanks to the empathy of healers and mentors who appeared at my side, I realized empathy is the true nature of heroes. Each of these heroes teaching me that my ‘new normal’ life’s mission is to follow their example to seek out empathy in order to defeat apathy. That became my lifes mission.
In the beginning, as a soldier in the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and the Canadian Airborne Regiment I learned fast that when you face a common enemy, servicemen and women from across our nation with as many diverse backgrounds possible,.. unite. For over 30 waves of immigration to Canada new citizens have joined our nation, each immigrant committed to giving back often by volunteering for others. With each generation adding their energy from coast to coast to coast, service men and women raised in our vast geographical landscape where family and community gave us our start. While in unifirm we become part if the greater good, part if an entirely foreign family. Those who volunteer to serve others knowingly put civilian life behind us to live a different life. A dangerous and possibly deadly life. A cost that every generation is willing to pay. It is a price paid by a small percentage of our youth willing to sacrifice their today for others tomorrows
Our planet is facing its next crucial test, an ancient threat that we have faced before, a brutal enemy that ignores Borders or Nations, our very bodys are the battleground with a disease thats preying on our physical security in ways our collective memory has forgotten. It is a time of Heroes, and Worldwide the test we all face can only be defeated if we all work together and make sacrifices for others. Veterans understand this reality deeply, it has left its mark and yet has prepared us to support others in this time of war. Here at the Veterans Channel we have combined decades of service by our presenters with professional broadcasting ability’s, ably guided by Henah Ji Hannah our platforms Founder, a visionary who created and refined our incredible outreach platform. Communications in a time of terror allowing each to reaffirm our coming victory and survival is crucial now more than ever. The Veterans Channel affords us a safe gathering place to disseminate information and to pull together all helping energy’s. It presents us the opportunity to ‘speak’ to not only our worlds veterans, but the family’s and community’s we devoted our service lives to!
What makes a heroe ? Each of us has basically the same starting point throughout childhood, but once adults we face challenges of every description, how are heroes created, why do some freeze, or others, often the least likely among us, excel when tested. I believe its because of the foundation of respect for others freedoms in a society with lessons learned lifelong teaching each of us to empathize with those worse off than others. When a life and death challenge faces us, those who fail the challenge do not have that foundation, while society’s that treasure all citizens as equals see masses of its people doing the right thing. Speaking for myself, and Im sure the majority of those who have, or do, or will wear a uniform- Ive dedicated my life to the service of others, leaving home, putting my life on hold as have many, learning skills only needed in the absolute worst of times willingly ready and able to deploy at a moments notice if called upon, to leave anything of ‘mine’ behind in fact ready willing and able to sacrifice all that was ‘me’ for those we love and complete strangers equally.
In todays world we face the worst kind of threat, a terror that strikes at home, compromising every aspects of our freedom. ‘First Responders’ historically are those who have always been identified by their uniform, are now simply those who show up for work that now exposes Medical personnel, Police, Firefighters and Military forces as well as citizens worldwide to danger, who now stand tall, for now by isolation or quarantine, or the simple act of social seperation keeping folks safe from a virus and its transmission not only to each other, but crucially at this point for the elderly or those with immune compromised systems. Lives are in the balance as new protocols and safety measures slow or stop the spread of this most recent terror. The generation of heroes now reporting to hospitals without full protective gear, food industry servers, construction workers and millions of others who do not have the option of isolation from harm, unable to predict the future are willingly and courageously standing tall as they serve others in a pandemic.
Each world citizen is now serving others by giving of themselves , sacrificing physical freedoms to begin with, those deemed ‘essential’ without complaint continuing to serve others. Service industry workers now as important as all other first responders. I’ll never forget a dear comrade Regimental Sergeant Major the late Ernest Hall of the Royal Canadian Regiment battle-group who served in Afghanistan’s combat in addition to service in Cyprus, the Gulf War, Bosnia Yugoslavia, Eritrea Africa.. When I asked him how today’s soldiers faced the threat of enemy action at every turn. He showed his lifelong pride in each if them by saying “If you want an example of courage, watch the responding Units to an IED Strike pull on their ‘Battle Rattle’ gear, helmets and weapons then at a running start mount the armoured vehicles eagerly as they roll at top speed towards the dark greasy column of smoke ahead that identify’s the position of the tragedy ahead of them. They couragously raced into action, recovered their fallen comrades then would pass by that repaired crater for the rest of their tour, too often adding many other such scars to lifelong memory’s. Today’s warriors are resting and preparing to be deployed, as Canadian troops always do, soon city’s across Canada will once again become familiar with uniforms and vehicles on the streets till danger passes. At home, those of us waiting out the developing drama for now serve in simple ways by social distance and limiting our freedoms. It will get worse before it gets better for many. It grieves those of us who’ve faced terror before far from home while in uniform, we served so others never had to face danger, now though everyone are warriors.
My lifelong pride in the CAV organization is as humbling as my pride in this Nation. It was my honour in 2003 at a chance meeting during a charity ‘Ride for Dad’ event that I met with Doc Lebrun a veteran of the Vandoo’s Bosnian war. Together we wanted to unite and identify Veterans who rode and the civilians who supported them. On that day an ongoing service Riding family was born, the ‘CAV’, Canadian Army Veterans Motorcycle Units was born. www.thecav.ca
In the best of times Ive seen these volunteer leaders in dozens of towns and citys nation wide take up the CAV challenge of identifying service and sacrifice in their communitys, ‘Riding and Having Fun While Helping Others’ by banding together with veterans, civilians and first responders of every generation naming Units honouring past military action, these riding heroes actions now in supporting the world around them. In 2017 the CAV Organization was recognized for raising over 7 million dollars and creating hundreds of local provincial and national level veteran based support missions by the Governor General Julie Payette at Rideau Hall Ottawa.
In the worst of times the CAV family draws close assisting others as during the ‘semi annual’ Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick flooding where towns watched our CAV volunteers sandbagging and manning checkpoints each spring as our neighbors call for help. Or during times of terror as in Moncton New Brunswick in 2014 when CAV members of Dunkirk Unit relayed water supplys and took taskings off the RCMP’s hands when a gunman decimated that citys security by shooting 5 and killing 3 Police Officers. We will never forget CAV members of Passchendaele Unit in the summer of 2008 enroute to a wedding postponed due to a combat tour in Afghanistan when just blocks away from the church on wedding day a vehicle crossed the line to strike row after row of bikes injuring 5 members and amputating the groom Frank Bouchard’s leg and nearly severing his best man Alain Belangers arm. Soon after we attended a ceremony close to the accident scene when we reunited the victims with first responders, alongside those CAV heroes who attended the injured. In 2015 our CAV family once again was called upon to help injured victims, and comfort our dieing members on a horrible day in Prince Edward County Ontario. Following a 1st CAV Fomation Annual General meeting Fathers Day ride, a car once again crossed the line in attempting an unsafe pass striking the group of bikes riding in tandem. Killed where Wayne Boone and Darren Williams with 3 others injured. Not only did the survivors stand tall in the face of this trauma with backgrounds suited to help others, our CAV comrades assisted in every way that day, from traffic control on scene, casualty evacuation staying until the scene was closed, refusing to leave until every police officer, who they had become family with that horrible day had gone home. In the years since, we have grown stronger, healing steadily with these and too many other painful memorys that combined with the good times, have shown in full the true heroism of the CAV Organization.
The CAV family like many other service groups have established a decade of community wide outreach, each of us there for each other and those in our circles. As recognized historically for standing tall it wont be long before need will present itself across Canada now. With each level of our leadership at Unit, Formation and Nationally connected, crucially now at City/ township Levels, our hard working Unit Exec’s and membership in every Province and major city all familiar with Police, Fire and EMS after years of interaction, as weve combined our energys in community support. At the 2018 London AGM it was clear that the offer by the Veterans Channel Founder Henah Ji, to not only assist in digitally capturing the storys our CAV groups energy, but to use its worldwide outreach by providing a world class communications platform was a key to our own outreach. The Veterans Channel provides us a platform that reachs tens of thousands of veterans each day in over 40 countrys.
The Veterans Channel is our answer to darkness. It connects empathetic forces worldwide Its world class programming custom made to identify Veterans positive energys and victorys against darkness. The Veterans Lifestyle App’ is a one stop ap for all needs, its functions available at the touch of your iphone or devices on road or at home. Our Show series highlighting Canadian, American, British and worldwide veteran issues with programming facing veterans issues such as ‘Transitioned’ facing the realitys of transitioning from a service life to civilian future , finding purpose beyond military duty, ‘16:20’ the veteran medical cannabis program covering the impact and evolution of medical marajauna that can ease suffering, ‘The Veterans’ series telling fantastic storys of resiliency , ‘Unroofed’ detailing the homeless veterans issues, ‘Legacies’ interviewing our worlds heroes with their insights and wisdom, ‘Riding with Heroes’ as we use motorcycles to seek out heroes and learn of their sacrifices or ‘noLIMbits’ films about veterans who live and thrive after the tragic loss of a limb. Also find incredible programming under our ‘Showcases’ area covering books and music, Guitars for Vets, Dean Stott and Kevin Briggs presentations, Navy to Nascar by Jesse E. Iwuji, The US Veterans Hall of Fame and the fantastic ‘Brothers in Arms’ series- All available 24 and 7 at the Veterans Channel. Veteran owned businesses, with the opportunity to shop and secure discounts as well as how to submit your own videos and storylines detailing issues paramount to our Veteran Community!
Keep yourselves and those around you safe, calm and ready to face challenges together. Be as flexible as possible. Reach out by phone, text or email to shut ins and those people in your life that time and space have separated from you over the years, they need to hear from you now, your voice and outreach will touch someone who is in darkness, your message bringing light. Crippled for life in the line of duty I faced months of isolation as a patient in the ‘dirty room’ thanks to my wounds becoming infected at National Defense Medical Center in Ottawas orthopedic ward, followed by years of ongoing surgery’s. The toughest reality I had to face was the fact that my life had changed forever, my freedom from pain, my ability to look after myself at all, in an instant had to be taken care of by others until I was able to move forward on my own. If it hadnt been the hundreds of military, medical personnel alongside pure hearted civilians and veterans who came to my side in the years since, I would not have survived. ALL those Heroes saved my life. Brothers and sisters, Im an old soldier seeing what your all seeing, saddly things will get worse, but united as a world family we WILL Survive and in fact be stronger for the experience! Help those who suffer, follow guidelines to be safe always and seek out empathy to defeat apathy!
Please, above all, find The Veterans Channel, at www.theveteranschannel.com, spread the word and follow our community by logging in and enjoying the countless hours of positive programming and updated outreach, custom made and available 24 and 7 for You and Yours!!
Spread the word and follow our community by logging in and enjoying the countless hours of positive programming and updated outreach, custom made and available 24 and 7 for You and Yours!!
P.M. ‘Trapper’ Cane M.S.M., C.D. KStG