Two young Canadian combat engineers lost their lives to IEDs while checking out another explosion Sunday, August 2, 2009. Cpl. Sapper Matthieu Allard and Cpl. Christian Bobbitt (in photo) of the 5th Combat Engineers Regiment, 2e Batallion of the Royal 22e Regiment, based in Valcartier, Que., were clearing roads of deadly improvised explosive devices to open the way for Afghans to travel to work more freely.
The two lads, the youngest casualties to date, were caught in a lethal refinement of the Taliban’s hallmark IED attacks, where two bombs are detonated in succession – one to stop the convoy, the second designed to kill the troops after they emerge from their armored vehicle. A third soldier was also seriously injured but is now in stable condition and expected to survive.
Bobbit was known for his sense of humor. Major Yannick Pepin, commanding officer of 51 Field Engineer Squadron said, “He made disagreeable situations agreeable.”
In response to a remark made by Bobbit’s aunt to the press that the young corporal had grown disillusioned with the mission, another soldier with two tours behind him commented in the Globe & Mail: “The majority of people in Afghanistan voted for its current democratic government. That government has requested NATO’s help in trying to maintain a secure and stable environment so the government can continue to operate. Nothing is perfect, but I assure you, if NATO left, there would be no freedom or democracy in Afghanistan. As a side note, not once was I ever lied to as to what we were doing in Afghanistan. As an infantry soldier with 2 tours, I was fully informed as to what we were there to accomplish and how difficult it would be.”
Play about PTSDKILL ZONE A LOVE STORY will run at the Sir James Dunn Theatre, 6101 University Avenue, Halifax from June 12 – June 16, 2013 https://flavors.me/heattheatre#601/tumblr
New Veterans Charter
Saying it had to modernize to reflect the new, unwrinkled face of the Canadian veteran, the federal government revamped legislation governing benefits for retiring and disabled soldiers in 2006. The New Veterans Charter, introduced by the Liberals under Paul Martin, backed by all parties and passed by the newly elected Harper Conservatives, was designed to meet the complex needs of veterans from the war in Afghanistan.
Young soldiers didn't want to sit at home, waiting for a cheque in the mail, reasoned the government. They wanted work in civilian society and to live fulfilled lives. The Veterans Charter would provide that by offering improved counselling, vocational training and one-on-one case management.
Veterans at the time warned that the new charter would drastically cut disability payments at a time when thousands were coming home wounded from Afghanistan. The changes, critics said, were all about saving the government millions at the expense of soldiers permanently disabled in the line of duty. As it turned out, these CRITICS WERE CORRECT.
© Copyright The Edmonton Journal
Afghanistan Mission Stats
•39,558 Number of Canadian Afghan veterans (defined by having spent 30 or more days in-country)
•4,181 Number of veterans receiving disability benefits whose disabilities are directly related to their service in the Afghanistan mission, as of Dec. 31, 2011.
•40 Number of veterans who did five tours
•3,680 Number of female Afghan veterans (9.3 per cent of total)
•338 Approximate number of female veterans receiving disability benefits directly related to service in Afghanistan
•158 Number of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan
•82 Number of dead who were from rural communities
•579 Number of veterans with injuries related to service in Afghanistan from Edmonton, the highest of any single city
•63 Percentage of veterans who were married or in common-law relationships
•635 Number of Canadian soldiers wounded in action in Afghanistan between 2001-2011
•1,412 Number of Canadian soldiers injured in non-battle situations in Afghanistan between 2001-2011
•8 Estimated percentage of Canadian soldiers suffering Afghanistan-related PTSD
•5.2 Estimated percentage of Canadian soldiers suffering other Afghanistan-related mental health issues
Department of National Defence, Library of Parliament, Veterans Affairs Canada, Office of the Veterans Ombudsman
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Bonnie Toews is a former business journalist reporting for logistics and private security magazines and now a novelist, speaks out for the victims of genocide and war, from the peacekeepers and coalition forces trying to save suppressed peoples to the children and innocent civilians caught in the crossfire of opposing powers, ideologies and cultures. Current writing "Trilogy in Treason." Member of Military Writers Society of America, American Authors Association and ACFW.