National President’s Report #1 – 21 June 2017
The 69th PPCLI Association Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held on 10 June 2017. I was nominated and elected as National President for the Association. It is an honour to be your President. I would like to thank Mike Austdal for his dedicated and loyal service to the Association as President from 2015 to 2017.
At the AGM, I made a commitment to develop a five-year strategic plan for the Association. It will take 4 – 6 months to properly develop and coordinate this plan so that it is integrated with the Serving component and the Foundation. Here is an overview of what I am considering. I make no apologies for the length of this report since I believe it is vital that you have a good understanding of what is planned. It is also my intent to provide quarterly updates on progress and developments.
First, we must commence a proactive membership recruiting drive to encourage released or retired Patricias to become members of the Association. Specifically, we must target Warrant Officers, Captains and below who have been released or retired in the past 10 years. The Association can trace its roots back to 1917 when PPCLI Service Clubs would meet on a regular basis to discuss the war, their wounds and how best to try and fit into the regular world again. The needs of soldiers have not really changed since 1917. Soldiers today are much better educated than those in 1918, 1945 and the 1950s. They have higher expectations, want results very quickly and still require assistance in their transition from a military culture to a civilian one. However, you have to become part of the PPCLI Association so that we have a better understanding as to what you are looking for. Last year the Association agreed to provide a free three-year membership for soldiers releasing after 1 May 2016. Very few have taken advantage of this offer. We also need to reach all the reservists who served with the Regiment, be it in Cyprus, Bosnia or Afghanistan. Next year is the 25th Anniversary of the Battle of Medak Pocket and it is my understanding that over 50% of 2 PPCLI were reservists. I intend to offer them a free year long membership for 2018. They are our brothers in arms and did the Regiment proud and wear the Commander in Chief’s commendation with the same pride as those who wore a Patricia hat badge. On a personal note, I must say I was very disappointed that about 300+ individuals joined the Association in 2014, mainly because of the 100th Anniversary coin, and then left in 2015. To me, the Regiment is a life long commitment. Being a member of the Association for a year so that you get a coin does not help. The Regiment is only as strong as all its members and we need you to become part of the solution by becoming an Association member. Annual dues are $25. Take the time, get involved, help your fire team partner and help change the Association into what you require.
Second, transition to a civilian career is an area where I think that PPCLI Association can help. There are many Patricias out there who are now well established in a second career. How many of you are willing to mentor or provide advice to a young soldier who is in the process of leaving the military? Just contact me and we will start putting together a network. Herb Kenny, President of the Edmonton Branch, is already establishing a process where a volunteer will help releasing soldiers convert their military career into a resume. We need to build on this and put a plan in place where the Association can help with the transition. This will be a work in progress and will take time to mature. Once again, my request is that you get involved, help your fire team partner and help change the PPCLI Association into what you require to be successful in a second career.
Third, is the “Healthy Veteran”. While serving, you had the advantage of active peer support, physical and mental fitness training, leaders who looked after their soldiers, a structured environment and access to a medical system. Those who have been released or retired have lost most of this and the Association can help you get some of it back. We can provide peer support. comradery, leadership, help with mental health, physical fitness and leadership.
On 10 June 2017, the Association conducted a Suicide Awareness Workshop at Niagara-on-the-Lake. About 100 people attended this workshop and it was live streamed. Here is the link to the video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pV-k0_WqOqA&t=1613s Of particular importance was the participation of the following individuals.
|John Hunter||Start – 19 minutes||South West Ontario Branch||Author of the SW Ontario Suicide Awareness paper|
|MGen Wayne Eyre||19 – 28 minutes||Senior Serving Patricia
DComd Mil Pers Comd
|Canadian Armed Forces actions|
|Col Rakesh Jetly||28 – 52 minutes||CAF Chief Psychiatrist|
|DM Gen (Ret’d) Walter Natynczyk||53 mins – 1 hr 7 mins||VAC Deputy Minister||Veterans Affairs Canada actions|
|Dr Alexandra Heber||1 hr 7 mins – 1 hr 32 mins||VAC Chief Psychiatrist|
|Health Break||1 hr 32 mins – 1 hr 55 mins||Health Break|
|MCpl (Ret’d) Collin Fitzgerald, MMV, CD||1 hr 55 mins – 2 hrs 37 mins||A Survivor||Collin’s battle with PTSD|
|Mrs Kerri Tadeau||2 hrs 37 mins – 2 hrs 58 mins||The woman who helped save Collin||Collin’s survival|
|Debbie Lowther||2 hrs 59 mins – 3 hrs 29 mins||Co-founder VETS Canada||What they do to help veterans.|
|LGen (Ret’d) Walter Semianiw||VETS Canada|
|Paul Hale||3 hrs 29 mins – 3 hrs 39 mins||PPCLI Association||
Association Way Ahead
|BGen (Ret’d) Larry Gollner||3 hrs 39 mins – end||Past COR PPCLI|
The PPCLI Association facilitated the workshop so that we could obtain a better understanding of what the Association could do to raise Suicide Awareness and help Veterans. At the AGM, the PPCLI Association approved the following course of action.
- Actively encourage recent veterans, in particular Afghan and Bosnia veterans to join
- Review status of current VPP coordinators and recruit new volunteers as necessary
- Host a three-day Mental Health Suicide Awareness and Prevention training session at CFB Edmonton in the Fall of 2017 with the assistance of Veterans Affairs Canada and the Regimental Veterans’ Care Cell
- Establish partnership with other agencies
- Determine what costs will be covered for Association members on Suicide Awareness and Mental Health training
- Ensure liability and insurance coverage is in place for VPP Coordinators before commencing a Suicide Awareness program
- Report back at AGM 2018 on progress and next steps
It will take time, liaison and coordination to develop a detailed plan for the PPCLI Association to accomplish the above. We have already started to look at the VPP. Dave Pentney and Jay Laypere have the accepted the duties of National VPP Coordinator. We intend to conduct a three-day training session based on the VAC Mental Health First Aid Course for Veterans in CFB Edmonton in the Fall of 2017. It will be limited to a maximum of 25 personnel with emphasis on the Alberta Association Branches and will be a trial course to lay the groundwork for future training. Spots not filled by the PPCLI Association will be available to other Military Associations and Veterans Groups.
At the end of the Suicide Awareness Workshop, a short meeting was held with the following groups; VETS Canada, Canadian Army Veteran Motorcycle Club, National Logistics Association, Canadian Military Intelligence Association, Royal Canadian Artillery Association, Royal Canadian Legion OSI Section and Veterans Affairs Canada. The aim was to determine how we can work together. There was a desire to work together and there will be follow up meetings to determine how to do this and how not to duplicate services. This will take time and coordination.
Mental Health is an extremely complicated issue and the PPCLI Association does not intend to create a new approach. Rather, we must partner with others and raise Mental Health awareness within the Association and retired military community. Our goal should be to do our best to locate and assist those who are not VAC clients, but need assistance. We must refer these individuals to the appropriate specialists and assist them in accessing treatment.
The fourth area of concern is communications. The PPCLI Association must develop a communication plan that reaches out to the serving community and released or retired members. The majority of serving soldiers and many released or retired soldiers simply have no idea what the Association does or how we help. We need to get the message out on all means possible. Many people are not aware that in 2016 the following funds were disbursed in support of charitable objects:
Student Bursaries $16,000.00
Regimental Museum $10,000.00
PPCLI Cadet Corps $ 8,531.16
Soldier On $ 1,500.00
Memorial Maintenance $ 137.55
The PPCLI Association supports the interests of the Regiment through the pursuit of the following Objectives:
- Foster and maintain the spirit of the Regiment;
- Perpetuate the close comradeship, mutual regard and esprit de corps formed amongst all ranks while serving in the Regiment and after retiring;
- Promote public awareness and perpetuate understanding of the Regiment, its heritage and tradition of Service to the Nation and to Communities;
- Stimulate public support for the Regiment;
- Assist members, including serving members of the Regiment, and widows and children of deceased members, when and where other assistance is not otherwise available;
- Establish co-operative relationships with other selected veterans’ or charitable organizations sharing comparable and compatible purposes and Objectives; and
- Provide educational bursaries to selected deserving persons.
We say that any soldier who served with the Regiment can be a member of the Association. But to be honest, I am not aware of any reservists who served with the Regiment in Bosnia or Afghanistan who are members of the Association. Most soldiers when they release do not join the Association. I can understand this for those who served 25 or more years and want a break from the Military and are afraid that they will be asked to help others. But the PPCLI Association needs your leadership, experience and knowledge of the gaps so that we can help the younger veterans. LGen (Ret’d) Walter Semianiw made it very clear during the Suicide Awareness Workshop that it was VETS Canada’s experience, that medically released, Combat Arms MCpls and below with less than 10 years of service were the group that needed the most help. Very few, if any of these individuals are joining the PPCLI Association upon release despite the offer of a three-year membership and they are ones who it appears are in most need of assistance.
The PPCLI Association must evolve to the meet the needs and requirements of our current veteran generation and lay the foundation for future generations. But this cannot not be accomplished in isolation and everyone must realize that the PPCLI Association is only as strong as its volunteers. My commitment to you is to raise the profile of the PPCLI Association, increase membership, raise Suicide Awareness, help with the transition from military life to civilian, carry on with the charitable objectives and respond to your needs. But first, we need you to join the PPCLI Association so that your voice can be heard.
Once A Patricia, Always A Patricia