Veterans want to bring back volunteer service medal

Veteran Adrien Michaud after the Remembrance Day ceremony in Saint-Laurent’s Beaudet Park Saturday, where he was the photographer for the Air Cadets. Photo: (Photo: TC Media – Hugo Lorini)

A Saint-Laurent veteran says the Government of Canada is not doing enough to honour volunteers service members who were not on the front lines. He supports a movement to see a new medal issued to veterans.

After reading about medals honouring volunteer service granted retroactively to veterans in the rest of the Commonwealth, Saint-Laurent resident Adrien Michaud wanted to know why Canadians weren’t receiving the same honour.

Veterans like Michaud, who served three-and-a-half years in the regular forces and two in the militia but were never deployed overseas, have no medal to show for their service.

“You didn’t take a bullet, then you don’t get anything,” said Michaud, who has written multiple letters to MP for Saint-Laurent and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stephane Dion, asking that he support a movement to issue a new Canadian Military Volunteer Service Medal (CMVSM), to no response.

“I’m doing this for all these people who suffered a lot and weren’t deployed,” said Michaud, who has seen veterans injured behind the scenes to no recognition.

From Sept. 3, 1939 to March 1, 1947, the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal (CVSM) was awarded to persons of any rank in the Naval, Military or Air Forces of Canada who served and honourably completed eighteen months total voluntary service, according to the Veterans Affairs Canada site. It was temporarily reissued during the Korean War.

« Wrong »

The life of a volunteer service member is a difficult one according to both Michaud and Dave Palmer, who spearheaded the CMVSM campaign through multiple petitions, about 25 over the last 10 years. “No one knows where they might be called up to serve and what that may entail,” said Palmer, who estimates that since 1947, 300,000 veterans would be eligible.

“[It] leaves thousands of veterans who can’t even put up a single medal to show they volunteered to serve in our Canadian military,” said Palmer. “Some have passed away and have nothing to leave their family. I just think it’s wrong.” Some days Palmer receives eight or nine emails — other days he can receive 100 – from veterans, family members and friends who want to see the medal come back.

In an email to TC Media, Dion thanked Michaud for raising the issue and said it has been raised with the Ministry of Defence and Veterans Affairs.

The House of Commons tabled Palmer’s petitions, most recently in June 2016. Government response that a five-year retroactivity rule precluding recognition for events over five years ago and that the Canadian Armed Forces’ Honours Policy states that an « honour must recognize a worthy endeavour; it must not represent routine duty, » is not good enough for Palmer.

“If [the volunteerism] of our veterans of yesteryear was not considered routine, why is this new proposed medal not considered routine,” said Palmer, who served over 20 years and holds a Long-Service decoration.

In March 2017 it will be 70 years since Canada stopped issuing the CVSM.


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