A Class A Reservist in need of a helping hand just learned Christmas wishes do come true. Veterans Emergency Transition Services (VETS) Canada coordinated an effort to find him a place to live, then found the means to fly him home for Christmas.
As a federally registered non-profit organization VETS Canada relies on a dedicated inter-provincial network of 135,000 volunteers across the country, most of whom are retired Canadian Armed Forces or Royal Canadian Mounted Police members. These boots on the ground volunteers traditionally work within their respective communities to seek out homeless and at risk veterans.
“This young soldier was doing his best. He was going to school, studying to be an emergency medical technician while working part-time as a soldier, and his accommodations fell through. He reached out and contacted us to see if we could help him,” explained Jim Lowther, founder VETS Canada.
Lowther put the young man’s problem on social media, instantly accessing volunteers across Ontario. Within two days a family came forward willing to board the soldier in the same community where he is attending school.
“That solved his immediate problem, providing him with a place to live, but during our conversations he mentioned he would not be able to go home for Christmas. The cost of a flight from Toronto to Calgary was too expensive. He’s a student paying for tuition, room and board on a Class A reservist’s pay,” said Lowther. “He hasn’t been home in a long time. We needed some Christmas magic.”
According to Lowther the young man, who would like to remain anonymous, did not access the CAF Christmas flight program for a variety of reasons.
“Our organization is able to solve non-traditional problems because we don’t have to get caught up in the reasons why something needs to be fixed. We just put our heads down and try to find a solution that works. Placing blame takes a lot of time and energy. This young man needed a hand up and we did what we could,” explained Lowther.
This time Lowther used his personal network of connections to see if he could get this young soldier home for Christmas. He chipped in a couple of hundred dollars, then used social media to see if he could raise the price of an airline ticket.
Within two days the airfare had been raised.
“It didn’t fall under our mandate, but it was a beautiful thing. He was simply blown away when we told him the tickets were bought. Now this young soldier will be home for Christmas. If everyone would just do what they can to take care of each other just think how much better things could be,” said Lawther.
The young man VETS Canada helped plans to use his emergency medical technician diploma to gain a regular force position as CAF medic. His future goal, to save the lives of Canadian soldiers in the field.
Veterans Emergency Transition Services is a volunteer-led apolitical nonprofit corporation centralized in Nova Scotia. VETS Canada was formed in 2010/2011 to reach out and help Canadian veterans who have not made successful transitions from their military careers to healthy civilian lives. Run by a national board of directors, with Boots on the Ground Teams in every province, VETS Canada seeks out and provides initial aid and comfort to homeless and at-risk vets.
For more information visit Veterans Emergency Transition Services.
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