During World War Two, my daughters’ great uncle was captured after his plane went down in the European countryside. He was held in a prisoner of war camp until he and a fellow Allied soldier escaped.
After a fortnight of dodging German troops in the marshy swampland, they eventually found passage over to England.
A short time was spent recuperating in England, and then he was released home to Canada. Arriving first in the United States, up to Ontario and then home to Vancouver Island, the record of his journey home appears relatively uneventful.
Only a few hours after his arrival to his parents’ homestead, his mother discovered that he had taken his life in his childhood bedroom. It was June 1st, 1945.
The inquest after his death revealed that he received no greeting from The Red Cross, which handled the repatriation and “welcome Home” aspect of Veteran’s Services at that time.
Medals awarded, both posthumous and prior to his death proved his bravery and service to country. A model soldier, a hero. Lost.
This year, lest we forget our heroes that have returned home safe, yet not fully sound. They still live with images and memories that will not dissipate with the passage of time. We have soldiers that are hurting, and they must be helped. And never forgotten.
Canadian Armed Forces has a section of their website dedicated to this issue:
Suicide and suicide prevention in the Canadian Armed Forces
There is an effort to remember those lost; Renata D’Aliesio’s article last week in the Globe and Mail tells of the “Soldiers of Suicide” Memorial.
Military memorial commemorates Canada’s soldiers of suicide
You can also find out more on Honour Our Canadian Soldiers
Alison Howell’s article in the Globe and Mail today discusses the need to for our new government to further support Veterans on their return home in the modern age.
For my children – the link to your uncle’s name in the WWII Book of Remembrance.