Victoria holds memorial for Canadians who served in Afghanistan
The names of Myles Mansell, Andrew Nuttall and Andrew Eykelenboom are etched in the granite of the BC Afghanistan Memorial in Victoria. The Vancouver Island men were among the 163 Canadians who died during the Afghanistan Mission between 2001 and 2014.
For the second year, the Victoria branch of the Princess Patricia Light Infantry (PPCLI) Association, honoured those who died and the more than 40,000 Canadians who served in Afghanistan in a ceremony on Remembrance Day. Some of those who attended the ceremony served alongside the fallen who were remembered.
"It’s the same for almost every veteran, we all know somebody on that monument," said retired Afghan veteran Col. Jamie Hammond.
"To me, it is important to represent the rest of us to make sure the people on that memorial are not forgotten."
The ceremony also honoured the many veterans who returned home from the Afghan Mission injured or who suffer from mental health issues, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The PPCLI Association supports veterans who may need help coping in their day to day lives after serving in Afghanistan.
"At least 70 veterans have committed suicide since the end of Canada's involvement in the Afghan conflict," said PPCLI Association Victoria branch president Dougal Salmon.
"When we find a veteran who is having difficulty with PTSD we are able to help them and refer them to the right people."
The PPCLI Association has trained 180 people to help and refer veterans to agencies that can support them. They have been successful in assisting more than 100 veterans across Canada.
For those who served, there is an understanding that their collective effort served others and made the world a better place.
"The thing that I think is really important is that on the ends of the memorial there is a tribute to those who returned with mental and physical wounds," said Hammond. "There is also a tribute to the families of the fallen because we often forget that huge sacrifice the families make."
The association wants people to remember that the names on the memorial are real people who had real stories.
They hope people will see that the Afghan memorial is important as a reminder of the importance of the other older memorials to those who served Canada in times of conflict.