Diary Of A Hollywood Refugee

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Time To Give Back

Project Valour IT was mentioned in Canada's National Post newspaper online edition as part of a story about corporate involvement in showering troops with gifts.

From bikes to batteries and backpacks, Americans are flooding military hospitals and bases with gifts for soldiers -- tokens of appreciation or tools to help them reintegrate their lives post-Iraq.

While this practice is quite common in the U.S., it is uncommon in Canada.

This week, in what could be the beginning of a similar trend here, Hyundai Canada presented a brand new Santa Fe mini-SUV to Master Corporal Paul Franklin, who lost both of his legs after a suicide attack in Kandahar. The car is outfitted with hand controls so that Master Cpl. Franklin can operate it himself.

When it comes to people giving gifts to soldiers, the Canadian Forces has tended to say, "thanks, but no thanks."

However, with Canada now involved in a conflict that will see more soldiers coming home injured and in need of help, some are questioning whether that attitude should change.

HELL YES IT SHOULD CHANGE! The system in place is archaic, unsensible, and needs to be re-thought immediately.

Gifts for Canadian soldiers are not forbidden, but Canadian Forces members must get permission from a senior official to accept a present, says John Knoll, a spokesman for National Defence Public Affairs in Ottawa.

"Such permission is refused only if accepting the gift would create a conflict of interest or would compromise [or appear to compromise] the integrity of the individual or the Canadian Forces," he said in an e-mail.

What on earth could be sent that would be construed to compromise the integrity of a soldier, the Forces, or create a conflict of interest, short of accepting presents from terrorist organizations, or organizations deemed to be funnelling funds to terrorists.

I'm uncertain as to why this isn't an issue in the U.S., but seems to be an issue in Canada.

Capt. Veronica van Diepen, public affairs officer at Canadian Forces Base Edmonton, said part of the problem with soldiers accepting gifts from the public is "where do you draw the line?"

Capt. van Diepen added that it is "wonderful" that Canadians want to demonstrate their support, but that the armed forces do not want certain soldiers to benefit to the exclusion of others.

"It's about where you make the distinctions," she said. "We have to decide whether or not it's desirable overall."

"Do you accept things for one wounded soldier and not another? How do you decide who's deserving?" Capt. van Diepen said.

Corporate involvement is not common in Canada, while in the United States, numerous companies and private initiatives also offer up moral -- or material -- support.

(...) One program has been started to provide voice-activated computers for men and women who have lost limbs in Iraq.

Project Valour-It (Voice-Activated Laptops for OUR Injured Troops) raises money to purchase and ship laptop computers and specialty software to injured soldiers. The non-profit group, a branch of the Soldiers' Angels network, obtains the computers through private donations and retailer discounts, and sends them to military medical centres or soldier's homes.

The article goes on to say:

So popular is gift-giving to soldiers in the United States that in 2004, the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington announced that they had run out of storage space for presents they receive from citizens.

If the U.S. Military doesnt have a problem with this, then why on earth should the Canadian Forces? Canadians and Americans want to generously give gifts to deployed Canadian troops and to those that are wounded. Let's not turn this into a bureaucratic challenge!

Canadians have demonstrated support of US troops by sending care packages, emails, and gifts, so I have tremendous faith that the generousity of Canadians will match that of Americans, and that all our wounded troops, let's hope there are not many) will be able to receive all kinds of gifts from Canadians. I also believe that Americans who have given generously to their troops will not only extend their generousity to Canadian troops deployed in Afghanistan, but also to Canadians wounded in combat.

Allies In The Forgotten War at The Middle Ground. Thanx Kat :>)
War Canadian Style: Bringing The War Home (Hat tip to Kat)


  • At 2:57 PM, May 06, 2006, Blogger Barb said…

    Oy! To consider *not* doing something for a few soldiers because you might not be able to do it for all? That would be a serious error!

    I hope this rolls North of the border, and am confident that the U.S. folks will remember the generosity of our good friends and allies!

  • At 3:41 PM, May 06, 2006, Blogger Kat said…

    I was just reading this long piece from the Toronto Star that several times had comments from soldiers, much more direct than ours, that the citizens of Canada do not support their soldiers. Probably a lot less than the problems we have here.

    I mean, have you ever seen their media? I am absolutely shocked. They think their military is a big police force. I believe that includes the trappings of accusing them of "police brutality" if they pull their triggers.

    It's really sad.


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