IT WAS NOT A MISSION, IT WAS A NIGHTMARE | LEST WE FORGET

There are numerous reasons to remember our fallen soldiers, veterans and military civilians.

The hard work, training and dedication to serve their country can be a selfless act as well one of opportunity.

Whatever the reason why one decides to join the forces, it is all personal. One thing is for sure, mental health and resources are essential for life after service.

Take for example WWI and WWII were many soldiers were injured. Others suffering mental health and others struggling to find housing or a place in society.

Some have been more fortunate and have gone on to successful careers in the arts, business, politics, education, law and other reputable fields.

For those less fortunate their lives as soldiers was one of experimentation. Secret WWII chemical experiments tested troops by race. The Pentagon admitted decades ago that it used American troops as test subjects in experiments with mustard gas, until now, officials have never spoken about the tests that grouped subjects by race.

For the first time, NPR tracked down some of the men used in the race-based experiments. And it wasn’t just African-Americans. Japanese-Americans were used as test subjects, serving as proxies for the enemy so scientists could explore how mustard gas and other chemicals might affect Japanese troops. Puerto Rican soldiers were also singled out.

All of the World War II experiments with mustard gas were done in secret and weren’t recorded on the subjects’ official military records. Most do not have proof of what they went through. They received no follow-up health care or monitoring of any kind. And they were sworn to secrecy about the tests under threat of dishonorable discharge and military prison time, leaving some unable to receive adequate medical treatment for their injuries, because they couldn’t tell doctors what happened to them.

Army Col. Steve Warren, director of press operations at the Pentagon, acknowledged NPR’s findings and was quick to put distance between today’s military and the World War II experiments.

Two Canadian Second World War veterans exposed to mustard gas and other deadly chemicals in military experiments were the first to receive compensation cheques from the federal government CBC reported in 2004.

The soldiers, retired master corporal Roy Wheeler and retired flight sergeant Bill Tanner, each received $24,000 from the federal government in a small ceremony in Chilliwack, B.C.

They are among thousands of servicemen who were subjected to the experiments between 1940 and 1970.

It’s not only fighting battles or serving in the army that veterans are exposed. The trauma for some are lasting and in some cases leads to death.

The Reset Community event to honour African Canadian Veterans on November 10th, 2022 has a new date for November 25, 2022. Here is the update on our previous press release.

It’s over 20 years since the Rwandan genocide, but for the Canadian soldiers who were there as part of a doomed UN peacekeeping mission, the sights, sounds and smells have not faded from memory reports a CBC news article.

“There was an overpowering stench of death,” said Major Brent Beardsley, who served alongside General Romeo Dallaire (both are now retired).

Rwanda was a country of seven million people in 1994, 85 per cent of them Hutu. Extremists within the Hutu ethnic group had been inflaming cultural tensions for years, blaming the Tutsi minority for economic and social problems. 

On April 6 the plane carrying President Juvenal Habyarimana (a Hutu) was shot down. His death sparked a wave of horrific violence in which more than 800,000 people, mostly Tutsi civilians, were massacred.

Over twenty-five years after one of Africa’s most grisly conflicts, many know the story of how the world didn’t stop it in time. But Canadians’ work in rebuilding was a quiet success – and veterans are organizing to make sure they are recognized.

Gloria Galloway reported from Rwanda during the summer of 1994.

There are many things Rwanda veterans say they will never forget about the months they spent in 1994 in a tiny country shattered by genocide.

Corporal Sammy Sampson was part of a four-man team in Gisenyi at the border of what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where millions of Rwandan Hutus fled to escape retribution by the rival Tutsis. He watched as Rwandan soldiers burned corpses stacked two-metres high in a mud hut outside the Gisenyi hospital. Afterward, he said, doctors “took us through every ward of the hospital, which turned out to be one of the most traumatic incidents of my life. To see kids maimed, with pieces hacked off of them.”

Pam Rideout, a corporal in the same 1st Canadian Division Headquarters and Signal Regiment as Mr. Sampson, remembers walking up a hill beside her remote communications outpost in central Rwanda and stepping on something with a sickening crunch. “I looked down and my foot was going through the chest cavity of a rotting body.”

Of the 600 Canadian troops who served in Rwanda, half of them – more than double the rate of other recent deployments including Afghanistan, Bosnia, Somalia and Iran – are receiving disability benefits from Veterans Affairs related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“We have been deployed many places in the world and we’ve seen things, but that one [Rwanda] was just totally out of this world,” said Denis Lebrun, who was the regimental sergeant major for the signals regiment. “It was not a mission, it was a nightmare.”

This Remembrance Day let us not forget! To make a difference in the lives of veterans and provide solutions for the community, support the historic Canadian initiative to erect an African Canadian veterans monument, wall and garden and the veterans village multi-family dwelling mixed use space. Stakeholders are invited to contact TRC for the proposal details at imin@letsresetnow.ca An auction for the interested parties is happening at the African Canadian Remembrance Ball occurring November 25, 2022. Tickets are accessible at Eventbrite. Let’s unite to treat our veterans right!

Sources:

Globe and Mail

Africa Globe

CBC

CBC

NPR

(Heading change and article update 11.10.2022 @12:21 EST)

Published by IT'S A CULTURE RESET!

For the society, by society!

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