Every year in November, we as Canadians stop to remember, salute and honour our Veterans and active duty personnel.
Just a few months ago we had the honour to welcome His Royal Highness, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent to Brampton to celebrate and commemorate the commitment, dedication and sacrifice made by the Lorne Scots Regiment to Canada over the last 150 years.
Before the visit I did some research on the regiment and I realized that my knowledge of what made someone a veteran was rather narrow. When I thought of a Veteran, most of the time I pictured someone who had served in the First World War, Second World War or the Korean War.
After speaking with members of the Lorne Scots and reading about their achievements, I realized that Canada’s modern-day Veterans and Reservists and those who have served Canada since the Korean War rarely receive the kind of recognition they so richly deserve.
I learned that since the end of World War Two, 1,800 Canadians including Reservists, have been killed in service to our country.
Today, as we stop to remember, I wanted to highlight and recognize Canada’s modern-day Veterans and Reservists who carry on the traditions, values and legacy of wartime Veterans and all Canadians.
There are more than 600,000 veterans in Canada today and approximately 30,000 of them are under the age of 30. They have served in Canadian missions, domestic and foreign, in both Peacekeeping and Peacemaking operations. Our service men and women continue to step forward protecting our freedoms and those of our allies. Unfortunately, many of these veterans have been injured in the line of duty. This morning I wanted to share the story of one of those individuals.
In January 2007 a week after his 30th birthday Master Corporal Jody Mitic and his Platoon headed out on a regular patrol. It was his third tour of duty and he was leading an experienced team of snipers as part of the Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group.
This decorated soldier’s life was forever changed when Master Corporal Mitic stepped on a land mine, losing both his legs below the knee in the explosion. As a double amputee, he knew immediately that the career he loved was over – he now had a new assignment - to recover.
His personal motto became “Never Quit” – simple enough in text, challenging and complex in execution.
Master Corporal Mitic relied on his personal motto time and time again as he struggled through his recovery.
Like so many of our country’s veterans he persevered and found a way to overcome the challenges life brought to him.
He wrote a book – aptly titled “Unflinching”, in which he shared his journey and that of his family.
And although Master Corporal Mitic loved his career serving as a soldier, he ultimately found a different way to serve his nation – he chose to run for elected office.
In 2014 Jody Mitic was sworn in as an Ottawa City Councillor; proving that the values, morals and work ethic learned in Canada’s military are transferable as our veterans continue to contribute to our nation.
While Jody Mitic’s story is truly inspiring, it is in no way unique. Many of Canada’s young veterans have overcome injuries – both visible and invisible – to succeed and they continue to serve our country in many ways.
They have endured hardships and sustained mental and physical injuries that will remain with them forever.
The quiet, selfless service of our Reservists often goes unrecognized, but the role they play is critically important to our National Defence and they can be called upon to deploy on a moments notice in a time of crisis or natural disaster.
A number of our local Lorne Scots troops assisted during the Ice Storm of 1998 in Eastern Ontario, and Sovereignty Operation NANOOK in the Canadian Arctic throughout 2007-2010.
Soldiers from the Regiment were also called upon to serve during the 2010 G20 Toronto Leaders’ Summit, when under the direction of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, they led the Integrated Security Unit.
As our veterans and Reservists have committed themselves to Canada, we too commit ourselves to them, our shared heritage and to their future. Young men and women every day give their time and are dedicated to serving and protecting those in the world who cannot protect themselves.
Today we pay tribute to the men and women who have served — and continue to serve — our country in times of conflict and of peace.
Across generations, Ontarians of all backgrounds have fought and died to make our world a safer place.
They have defended and promoted Canadian values of freedom, democracy and human rights. We are stronger because of their service and safer because of their courage and sacrifice.
Let us never forget.