As many Canadians have expressed their dismay, the Acting Chief of the Defence Staff, Lieutenant-General Eyre, released a letter this week addressing the Fall of Panjwai.
This letter follows the report that came last week that Panjwai has once again fallen into the Taliban’s hands. Eyre began the letter by acknowledging the many reports coming out of Afghanistan.
Fall of Panjwai
“The fall of Panjwai, reported last week, has hit many of us particularly hard, and as we question our legacy, it serves as a harbinger for all Canadians who served in the country, regardless of when and where.
“Our Afghan experience has left none untouched, and many, including families, are scarred physically, mentally, and morally from it. Many of us have been asking, some for years, ‘was it worth it?’ Answers will be deeply personal, and not all have reached a final conclusion other than time will tell.”
Over 40,000 Canadian Armed Forces Personnel Served
Over 40,000 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members served in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2014. Operation Medusa was an offensive operation that took place in September 2006 in Kandahar province.
According to the Veterans Affairs website, more than 1,000 CAF members were involved, making it Canada’s largest combat operation in over 50 years. As a result, 12 Canadians lost their lives during the offensive, and the Taliban were pushed from the Panjwai district.
According to multiple news sources, at present, the Taliban have taken over multiple parts of Afghanistan, including Panjwai, west of Kandahar. This comes after the United States and remaining NATO troops pulled out of Afghanistan earlier this year.
Valour & Selflessness
Eyre stated those who served can be proud, knowing they did everything that was asked of them with valour and selflessness. However, he wrote that at this moment, it is difficult to see change, hope and prosperity come out of the war fought by so many.
“So where does that leave us?,” Eyre continued, “Should we hang our heads in bitterness and remorse; or should we continue to venerate the sacrifices of so many in our ranks and their families, to honour the noble commitment to service and making the world a better place, and endeavor to learn from our experiences, grow, and become better every day?
“While none of us can speak for them, I have to believe that our fallen would want us to pursue the latter.”
For those struggling with the developments taking place in Afghanistan, the acting chief of the defence staff noted several resources available for CAF members and their families were listed.
Current CAF Members & Families
Mental health care and a range of support services provided at Canadian Forces Health Services primary care clinics across Canada are accessible to CAF members. These services are also available for those deployed.
Member Assistance Program (CFMAP) is a confidential advisory and referral service that is external to the CAF and available to members and their families by phone 24-hours-a-day, seven–days–a–week at 1-800-268-7708.
Spiritual guidance and support are available through military chaplains.
Information on these and other medical and mental health care and support services for military members and their families are available at the Military Mental Health “You’re Not Alone” web page.
Veterans & Families
VAC Assistance Service is available 24/7 for veterans and their families. Call 1-800-268-7708 (TDD/TYY: 1-800-567-5803) to talk to a mental health professional.
More information on counselling services, peer support, and free online resources for Veterans and families can be found in the Mental health and wellness section of the Veterans Affairs Canada website.