The ones who made it home

By Vivian Collings

Remembrance Day is a time for us to honour those who served in the armed forces and lost their lives in the line of duty.

Physically, we wear a poppy and attend ceremonies.

We sing O Canada and God Save the King together.

Mentally, we remember the ones who never made it home.

Lately though, I’ve been thinking a lot about those who did make it home. The ones who made sacrifices that were traded with other sufferings.

Although veterans have been given the gift of their lives, the homefront isn’t any less tumultuous for so many.

Poppies are worn as a symbol.

Red four-petaled flowers with black pistils were a common sight for soldiers against the muddy, mangled craters of the First World War’s Western Front.

Where nothing else could grow, poppies survived among the destruction.

Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae wrote that poem we can likely all recite by heart.

In Flanders’ Fields the poppies blow,

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place …

And so we wear the hearty red flower on our coats in November to show that, like a poppy, departed armed forces members survive in hearts and minds.

In Canada though, those poppies are a symbol of something else too.

The Legion’s annual Poppy Campaign is designed to support veterans and their families who may be struggling today.

The change you throw in the box when taking a poppy could be helping fund housing, pay for groceries, or assist in heating costs, to name only a few.

As of 2020, Canada has almost 630,000 veterans living on home soil.

“It’s estimated that about 32 per cent face significant difficulties transitioning from military service to civilian life – putting them at risk of mental illness, addictions, and homelessness,” said the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness.

Over two per cent of the country’s entire homeless population are veterans. 

These are people that willingly devoted part of their lives for the safety of ours, remember.

Ten per cent of veterans who served in a war zone will experience post traumatic stress disorder.

That’s not to be taken lightly. 

And, poor mental health is one of the leading causes of homelessness.

The numbers are staggering and the correlation between the difficulties some veterans face is unmistakable.

A positive now is that we have the tools.

Unlike the 10,000 soldiers diagnosed with shell shock after the First World War, we have a deep understanding of PTSD now and can properly treat those brave veterans.

Places like Dimensions are leading the way to provide a healing space and tools to work through trauma, right in our backyard.

The research conducted there will be used to better help more veterans in the decades to come.

How incredible is that?

And $17,000 being raised for the Poppy Campaign last year in Haliburton alone is something to be proud of.

So this year, when you see a volunteer with a box of poppies, consider donating a little extra change.

Wear the poppy for the ones we lost, and give what you can to the ones who made it home.