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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: https://militarybruce.com/a-medal-to-recognize-all-military-service-members/

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