Veterans Affairs Canada

Veterans Affairs Canada

May 19, 2009 17:07 ET

Minister of Veterans Affairs Meets With Troops in Afghanistan

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 19, 2009) - The Honourable Greg Thompson, Minister of Veterans Affairs, has returned from two days in Afghanistan that illustrated why Canadians are so proud of our courageous Veterans and men and women in uniform.

"When you see first-hand what these men and women are doing to bring peace and stability around the world, you can't help but be proud of them-and be proud to be a Canadian," said Minister Thompson, who made the trip with Defence Minister Peter MacKay, who is also the Minister for the Atlantic Gateway.

"Our troops put their lives on the line every day to defend our shared values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law," added Minister Thompson. "That is a tradition that our Veterans began in the Two Great Wars and Korea, and our men and women in uniform have continued it throughout their numerous peacekeeping missions and military operations."

That proud link between Canada's Veterans and current Canadian Forces Members was clear when Minister Thompson and Minister MacKay presented the troops with a Canadian flag signed by John Babcock, Canada's last known surviving Veteran from the First World War. Mr. Babcock added "I Love Canada" to his signature.

"The troops there were really moved by the gesture," Minister Thompson said of the flag that will be displayed at Canada House in Kandahar Airfield. "They are proud of the great legacy they have inherited from the men and women who have come before them."

Minister Thompson and Minister MacKay spent their two days in Afghanistan meeting with Canadian troops and attending high-level briefings. Their visit also took them to meet Canadian and British troops at forward operating bases in the Panjwayi district and Helmand province.

"The work they are doing in Afghanistan-so bravely and so professionally-is why I often say we have the best soldiers in the world," said Minister Thompson. "When the world calls, Canada answers-because that is the Canadian way. Always has been. Always will be."

While in Afghanistan, Minister Thompson and Minister MacKay also announced 11 more Integrated Personnel Support Centres, part of the Joint Personnel Support Unit (JPSU), are opening across Canada-in addition to the first eight announced in March.

Jointly operated by Veterans Affairs Canada and the Department of National Defence, the offices provide ill and injured CF members, veterans and their families access to an integrated "one-stop service" that brings together a number of important programs and services offered by the two departments.

"The Integrated Personnel Support Centres provide essential services to members, Veterans, and their families," said Minister MacKay. "Our Government is establishing new locations that will bring this 'one-stop service' to more communities across Canada."

The support centres coordinate a range of casualty support and case management programs; plan and monitor the Return to Work Program; provide Veterans Affairs Canada client and transition services; and work with local service providers, base support representatives and unit Commanding Officers. They improve existing services by aligning progress on a member's file with one defined set of priorities.

Minister Thompson said the new support centres are yet another example of how the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper is determined to help repay the great debt Canada owes its Veterans, men and women in uniform and their families.

"Spending two days with our troops in Afghanistan has only reconfirmed my steadfast belief that we as a country must dedicate ourselves to serving our troops and Veterans in the same way that they have always served our country; without hesitation and without reservation," said Minister Thompson. "They are, after all, our nation's truest heroes."

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs
    Richard Roik
    Director of Communications