By Doris E Rufli
Jerry Billups grew up in Penticton, where he joined the BC Dragons Cadets in his youth and that eventually led him to become president of The Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 261-Forest Grove.
While most people think of the First and Second World Wars on Remembrance Day, Jerry says he believes all past and ongoing campaigns should be taken into consideration.
Canada has been involved in quite a bit of warfare over the past 149 years, he says.
It all started with the Mahdist Campaign in 1881, followed by the Second Boer and the Russian Civil wars, and subsequent combat in Korea, the Persian Gulf, Bosnia and Kosovo, Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq.
However, what this country is really known for is its peace missions, Jerry notes.
Canada has been sending its Peace Corps to Africa – Rwanda probably being the best-known – Indonesia, the Middle East, Cambodia, Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo and Haiti, starting in 1956, he adds.
However, Jerry does not stop there. Aside from the Armed Forces and Peace Corps, he also considers firefighters, the RCMP and Coast Guard worthy to be included. In particular, individuals who make the ultimate sacrifice, but also those who return home injured – be that physical, emotional or psychological.
According to the Legion Magazine – issue Nov/Dec 2016 – peaceful Canada has a national lifetime PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) rate of 9.2 per cent, topping the list of 24 countries studied.
Jerry also broached the subject of a rancher and vet from Quesnel who travelled across Canada last year, highlighting the blight of veterans returning from war zones.
In 2015, Paul Nichols and wife, Terry, founded the Communities for Veterans Foundation, a registered not-for-profit society in British Columbia. Their intention was to bring awareness to communities across the country about the “changing face of Canadian veterans.”
Paul Nichols saddled his horse in Victoria on April 13, 2015, and rode across Canada to St. John’s, Newfoundland, where he arrived on Nov. 9. Along the way, he met and interacted with as many veterans as possible.
For more details on this incredible ‘Ride Across Canada’ as well as upcoming events in 2017, please check out their website at http://communitiesforveterans.ca/.
Jerry also recognizes the fact that Legions are hard-pressed to keep track and assist their veterans’ post-war needs. Only a few members in a community are leaving for battle in this day and age compared to many during the world wars.
This also means vets now have to travel great distances to meet with others with similar experiences. Professional help and/or specialist support are often limited to large cities, leaving vets in rural areas struggling by themselves.
The Forest Grove Legion president would like to extend the following special message to everyone: “We need to support our war veterans of all campaigns.”
The Remembrance Day ceremony at the Forest Grove Legion will commence with a procession from the parking area to Legion Park, starting at 10:40 a.m. Marg Huber will provide music support during the service.
After the laying of the wreaths, everybody is invited to partake in the food provided by the Ladies Auxiliary at the Legion.