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A medal to recognize all military service members

Esprit de Corps

December 2012

Although I agree that the Canadian Forces shouldn’t be handing out medals like Hallowe’en candy, I do believe that something beyond the current CD medal is warranted for in-country service.  Not all service members serve the required 12 years to receive the CD medal and thus have little to show for their service.

Perhaps another option could be a “Home Defence Service Medal” or an updated version of the WWII era “Volunteer Service Medal”, with a 3 year minimum service requirement (3 years being the usual “initial engagement” for Regular Force members). This would recognize the fact that some service members never get the opportunity to serve overseas.

For reservists specifically, there are the additional issues of being able to get the required time off from your civilian job and being one of the lucky ones selected by your unit to go on a mission as there generally are limited billets.

Additionally, prior to the early 1990s, the prevailing attitude among Regular Force members was that reservists were stealing jobs away for the regulars.  This attitude also prevented many reservists who would have willingly served overseas.

I believe a “Home Defence / Volunteer Service Medal” would also address the issue that we do need people serving on the home-front.  Even in the darkest days of World War II (or any war), when all able bodied men were needed on the front lines, we still needed military personnel back home serving as instructors at training schools, manning coastal defence facilities, doing signals intelligence work and guarding prisoners-of-war and power generation stations.  The Veterans Guard were tasked to perform some of these jobs, but most had to be done by their younger active-service counterparts.  It’s no different today.

I can understand that some may feel that by giving a service medal such as a CVSM after only 1-3 years will turn us into a military where every private has a medal “just for showing up”, or it will become a “I passed basic training, but haven’t done much else” medal. I disagree with that but as a compromise, perhaps the CFVM could be given out at the same time as the CD or when the person releases, whichever comes first.

 

Update:  NDP Member of Parliament Carol Hughes (Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing) has been putting forth a proposed bill, Bill C-354 (Historical) also known as the Defence of Canada Medal Act (1946-1989), an Act respecting the establishment and award of a Defence of Canada Medal (1946-1989).

Hughes first tabled this bill on 24 October 2014, but it has twice died on the order paper when the parliamentary session concluded.

Hughes has stated, “The medal serves to formally honour the people who defended our country from within for the period from 1946 to 1989,” said Ms. Hughes. “During this time, we became aware of how fragile peace can be and how vulnerable we may become to advances in weapons of warfare.”

Hughes yet again re-introduced this bill in the fall of 2016.  Hopefully it will pass this time.

 

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Frequently articles are edited for space. Here is the full original article:

Although I agree that the Canadian Forces shouldn’t be handing out medals like Hallowe’en candy, I do believe that something beyond the current Canadian Forces Decoration (CD) medal for in-country service is warranted.  Not all service members serve the required 12 years to receive the CD and thus have little to show for their service.  I have advocated in this magazine before for a “Cold War Service Medal”, for those who served during the Cold War years.  I proposed a minimum of 3 years service honourable service (3 years being the usual “initial engagement” for Regular Force members).

Perhaps another option could be a “Home Defence Service Medal” or an updated “Volunteer Service Medal” (similar to the one given out in WWII), also with a 3 year minimum service requirement.  This would recognize the fact that there are some service members who never get the opportunity to serve overseas.  For reservists specifically, there are the additional issues of being able to get the required time off from your civilian job and being one of the lucky ones selected by your unit to go on a mission as there generally are limited billets.

I believe a “Home Defence / Volunteer Service Medal” would also address the issue that we do need people serving on the home-front.  Even in the darkest days of World War II (or any war), when all able bodied men were needed on the front lines, we still needed military personnel back home serving as instructors at training schools, manning coastal defence facilities, doing signals intelligence work and guarding prisoners-of-war and power generation stations.  The Veterans Guard were tasked to perform some of these jobs, but most had to be done by their younger active-service counterparts.

This is in addition to other civilian professions essential to the war effort such as police officers, fire-fighters, doctors, hydro workers, farmers and munitions factory workers.  How many of them, military and civilians, wanted to serve overseas, but were told they were needed at home.  Yes, I do realize that there are always ways around such restrictions, but perhaps some considered that their duty was to fight on the home-front as someone had to do it.

On a personal note, when my father joined the Army Reserve in 1957, it was extremely rare for a reservist to serve overseas on UN or NATO missions.  Besides having civilian jobs and other commitments that prevented (or restricted) many from serving on overseas deployments, the prevailing attitude among Regular Force members was that reservists were stealing jobs away for the regulars.  When I joined in the Navy Reserve 1987, the situation was better, but it was still not all that common for reservists to serve overseas.  It wasn’t until the early 1990s that more and more reservists were being employed on UN and NATO missions, mostly due to cutbacks in the Regular Force.

While I didn’t spend my entire 13 years in the reserves pursing an oversees mission or posting, I did put my name on the volunteer list in the mid 90s and was willing to go if needed.  That never happened, l but at least I do have the CD to show for my service.

I can understand that some may feel that by giving a service medal such as a CVSM after only 1-3 years will turn us into a military where every private has a medal “just for showing up”, or it will become a “I passed basic training, but haven’t done much else” medal. I disagree with that but as a compromise, perhaps the CFVM could be given out at the same time as the CD or when the person releases, whichever comes first.

 

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As each Remembrance Day passes, one hot topic among Canadian Veterans is the issue of service medals and how some Veterans have nothing to show for their service.

Unless a Veteran serves a minimum of 12 years or is deployed on a mission that is covered by a service medal, that Veteran has nothing to show for their service.

This becomes even more aggravating when the media focuses on, with almost clockwork

 

In October 2014, NDP Member of Parliament Carol Hughes (Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing) put forth a proposed bill, Bill C-354 (Historical) also known as the Defence of Canada Medal Act (1946-1989), an Act respecting the establishment and award of a Defence of Canada Medal (1946-1989).

 

Although I agree that the Canadian Forces shouldn’t be handing out medals like Hallowe’en candy, I do believe that something beyond the current CD medal is warranted for in-country service.  Not all service members serve the required 12 years to receive the CD medal and thus have little to show for their service.

Perhaps another option could be a “Home Defence Service Medal” or an updated version of the WWII era “Volunteer Service Medal”, with a 3 year minimum service requirement (3 years being the usual “initial engagement” for Regular Force members). This would recognize the fact that some service members never get the opportunity to serve overseas.

For reservists specifically, there are the additional issues of being able to get the required time off from your civilian job and being one of the lucky ones selected by your unit to go on a mission as there generally are limited billets.

Additionally, prior to the early 1990s, the prevailing attitude among Regular Force members was that reservists were stealing jobs away for the regulars.  This attitude also prevented many reservists who would have willingly served overseas.

I believe a “Home Defence / Volunteer Service Medal” would also address the issue that we do need people serving on the home-front.  Even in the darkest days of World War II (or any war), when all able bodied men were needed on the front lines, we still needed military personnel back home serving as instructors at training schools, manning coastal defence facilities, doing signals intelligence work and guarding prisoners-of-war and power generation stations.  The Veterans Guard were tasked to perform some of these jobs, but most had to be done by their younger active-service counterparts.  It’s no different today.

I can understand that some may feel that by giving a service medal such as a CVSM after only 1-3 years will turn us into a military where every private has a medal “just for showing up”, or it will become a “I passed basic training, but haven’t done much else” medal. I disagree with that but as a compromise, perhaps the CFVM could be given out at the same time as the CD or when the person releases, whichever comes first.

Update: 

Hughes first tabled this bill on 24 October 2014, but it has twice died on the order paper when the parliamentary session concluded.

Hughes has stated, “The medal serves to formally honour the people who defended our country from within for the period from 1946 to 1989,” said Ms. Hughes. “During this time, we became aware of how fragile peace can be and how vulnerable we may become to advances in weapons of warfare.”

Hughes yet again re-introduced this bill in the fall of 2016.  Hopefully it will pass this time.

 

 

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: http://militarybruce.com/a-medal-to-recognize-all-military-service-members/

13 comments

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  1. Jack Williams

    New Zealand now has a “Defence Service Medal”. I think something like this should be created for Canadian Veterans. I was a reservist for 10 years. Just 2 years shy of getting the CD.

  2. Jack Bennett

    The CF doesn’t seem to recognize veterans who served less than 12 years. Case in point is the Canadian Armed Forces Service Pin. Rather than be a pin awarded to everyone who resigns from the CF, they have set it up based on CD time. Although I’m sure this makes it easier for administration purposes, it fails to recognize veterans that had less than 12 years service. 12 years should should not be the bench mark for the service pin. They need to create a General Service Pin for everyone who served in the Canadian Forces.

    As for the General Service Medal, that sounds like a great plan. Other countries are doing it. We should too.

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Jack,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site and for your support. I don’t see this medal actually coming to fruition, but it’s good to know that others think the same way.

      Bruce

  3. Ted Paulson

    I am in accord with the intent so far shared. We who have served in the past stand at legion events and have no way to share that at one time we were prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for our country in times of need! Yet we have no way to express this. There could be a minimum time period alotted…3 to 5 years which might indicate the degree of participation, but no matter what arbitrary span of time is selected, the price of a life was on the line. Ours.

    I have talked with reps within the Legion at command levels, MPP’s and other with local political figures and ALL have shared that there is a need for a medal for past reserve service.

    I have been told that only a “ground swell” might be the only way to bring this recognition to happen.

    T. Paulson

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Ted,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site and for your comments. It’s good to know others feel the same way.

      Bruce

      1. Tedd Paulson

        I thank you for getting back to me.

        We are not alone in our quest to bring about this recognition of past military service.

        Having talked with my Conservative provincial rep (Toby Barrett) on Remembrance day, he too has been a participant in the past as a reservist and would like to be on board with this intent.

        There MIGHT be a way to circumvent the red tape and the bureaucratic barriers that some in the VA seem to think that they are above reproach in this matter and that is to go the way that Sask has gone…and that is to create a provincial defense medal. This of course would have to be “run through” the Lieutenant General of Ontario, but it could be done. If you go on line, you can see what it involves.

        Now, if you could get your regional MPP on board, then we would have at least two political activists working towards this end.

        Also, I have already approached my Legion President and will bring this up at the next executive meeting. I’m not sure how this would go over as it may appear political in nature, however Command mentioned that chain of command might be the way to get this intent off the ground…from the branch level up.

        Having talked with some of the commanders after a past “Warriors Day” memorial at the Simcoe Fair…they too felt that this award is something that needs to be considered. This is where they suggested the chain of command route.

        As indicated in my previous email, we WERE putting our lives on the line and were lucky enough to have side stepped an active theatre. As you, I have been a past police officer and know too well the reality of wartime.

        Again, thanks for the post and the mutual support. We not alone, as I have seen a recent past letter in the Legion magazine that alluded to this need as well.

        Take care and give a call some time as I am recently retired.

        Ted

    2. Roseanna

      Draga mea, Sa stii ca nici eu nu prea ma impac bine cu iarna. Parca de-abia astept sa treaca ziua, nici nu reusesc sa fac tot ce imi prpusn…eote foarte neplacut. Multumesc pentru machiajul care ma mai incalzeste si mai mai energizeaza putin.Te pup!

  4. Wayne Carew

    I so agree Bruce. Another related issue would be service as an Auxiliary Constable with the RCMP. Their status has always been ‘paramilitary’, hence the inclusion. I have done my time with RCASC (Militia), and the Seaforth Highlanders (Primary Reserve), but by far, the most time was as an Auxiliary Cst. One reason I suggest this inclusion, is that Aux./Reserve Constables receive absolutely nothing in remuneration, yet are required to put in a set minimum in monthly hours on duty. There has always been a close relationship between the RCMP & the military, evidenced by membership inclusion with the Royal Canadian Legion, and service in war zones. Almost without exception, most of us receive a generic certificate of service, and the odd thank you letter from whoever is inclined, referring of course, to Provincial & Municipal Governments. It is almost impossible to obtain service records when requested (unofficially or through Freedom of Information Act), by blow off comments such as “we have no idea where the records were stored, if they even exist anymore”. This is from the RCMP, the primary agency tasked with obtaining and storing records of all that have served Governments in which ever capacity. Apologies if I’ve intruded in the wrong forum, but frankly having been a Cadet, Army Reservist, and an RCMP A/Cst., I see a very common bond. Regards, Wayne.

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Wayne,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site and for your support of the medal and your insights. I hadn’t considered the RCMP and Auxiliary officers. RCMP officers are considered veterans in Canada, thus I would imagine this includes Auxiliary officers too, but I don’t know that for sure (is it only sworn officers?). In Ontario, we have the Ontario Auxiliary Police Service Medal for Auxiliary officers, but I don’t think this applies to RCMP Auxiliary officers.

      Maybe something will come to be. NDP MP Carol Hughes tabled a private member’s bill in favour of a Defence of Canada Medal, but it appears the bill died on the order table when Parliament was dissolved in August. Maybe it will be re-introduced.

      Bruce

  5. Albert

    I would welcome a medal to show I served during this time but I’m also curious if there is a medal for those of us that served at home during through first gulf war 91, when Canada actually declared war on Iraq.

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Albert,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site. The information that I have is the only ones who were entitled to the Gulf & Kuwait Medal were those who served in theatre. This is one reason why there should be an in-country medal of some sort, like there was for those who served in WWII, but didn’t go overseas.

      Bruce

  6. Ryan Voll

    I pitched forth the idea of a 150th Anniversary/Birthday of Canada medal to all military members who were medically released prior to 12 years, to our minister of Veterans Affairs.
    But I haven’t heard anything back.

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Ryan,

      Thanks for stopping by my web site. The Canadian government has issued medals on the 100th and 125th anniversary of the founding of Canada, but so far it appears that the current Prime Minister has no intention of issuing one. I do appreciate your idea and the thought for veterans without medals, but commemorative medals such as the past centennial medals and the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Medals are open to any Canadian citizen, so such a medal doesn’t necessarily denote the wearer as a veteran. That said, there is no reason such a medal couldn’t be struck with a distinctive ribbon specifically for veterans to denote it from any civilian equivalent that may also be issued.

      All ideas are good.

      Thanks, Bruce

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