Holding Space for Remembrance This Remembrance Day/Jour Du Souvenir
On November 11th, 1918, the world wept tears of shock and relief as the guns finally fell silent across Europe. At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year, the Treaty of Versailles was signed to punctuate the end of the First World War. This year marks the 103rd anniversary of this symbolic event, and millions of people across Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, New Zealand, and Australia will commemorate this day of remembrance by wearing poppy boutonnieres, visiting the graves of the lost and loved, participating in personal rituals, or joining community gatherings to observe the day. Although Remembrance Day began in commemoration of the First World War, today we take the occasion to remember, mourn, honour, and show respect for the veterans of every war in which Canada has taken part, and recognize the sacrifices that they and their families have made to enable our way of life today.
For Our Veterans
For our veterans and their families, Remembrance Day can be an especially difficult event. Not all wounds can be seen, and Remembrance Day (and the days surrounding it), can trigger traumatic reminders of friends who were lost, battles that still sit heavily in awareness, difficult moments in the field and at home, personal losses and grief over missed time with loved ones, and physical and psychological scars that do not so easily heal. Veterans Affairs Canada reports that approximately one-fifth of Canadian veterans experience a diagnosed mental health disorder at some point in their lives – most commonly, depression, PTSD, and other anxiety disorders (not to mention those with mental health concerns that go undiagnosed), as well as suicidal thoughts. If you or a loved one is struggling this November, please know that help is available, and please consider reaching out to the following resources, or to Back in Motion for counselling support:
- In an emergency or crisis situation, please call 9-1-1- or go to your nearest hospital emergency room.
- 24/7 Bilingual Telephone Support: The Employee Assistance Services of Health Canada, in partnership with the Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Canada, is a voluntary and confidential service to help serving and retired members (Regular Force, all Reserve Class Members, RCMP, Cadets, Veterans), their family members as well as primary caregivers, who have personal concerns that affect their personal well-being and/or work performance:
- Phone: 1-800-268-7708
- For the hearing impaired, dial 1-800-567-5803 (TDD)
- The Department of National Defense has mental health services to support veterans and their families:
- Veterans Affairs Canada offers counselling, compensation, and support for veterans’ mental health needs:
- The Family Information Line is a confidential, personal and bilingual service offering information, support, referrals, reassurance and crisis management to the military community. Trained Family Information Line Counsellors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to assist you:
- Phone: 1-800-866-4546
- Veterans Emergency Transition Services (VETS Canada) exists to support Canadian veterans with whatever it is they need (housing support, transportation, utility payments clothing, food, etc.)
- Soldier On is a program of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) which contributes to the recovery of ill and injured CAF members and veterans by providing opportunities and resources through sport, recreational, and creative activities:
At Back in Motion, we recognize the innumerable sacrifices made by our veterans and their families, both on the battlefield and off. We extend our deepest gratitude for the brave choices they have made, each and every day, to protect and uphold our values and way of life. Learn more about Counselling Services at Back in Motion.
For Our Civilians
What does Remembrance Day mean to you and your loved ones? How do you show gratitude and respect on this important day?
If you are looking for ideas for how to honour our lost and living veterans and their families this Remembrance Day, here are some helpful suggestions:
- Wear a poppy throughout the month of November.
- Make a donation to your local legion or veterans’ mental health support organization.
- Engage with your children around Remembrance Day (watch informational videos, do a craft, or teach them about war and the issues relevant to our veterans).
- Attend a community gathering to commemorate the lost and living veterans.
- Consider volunteering with an organization that supports our veterans, such as the Veterans Emergency Transition Services (VETS Canada):
- Check in with your friends and family and see who might need extra support.
- Practice gratitude in your own way (e.g. journaling, writing a letter, making a social media post, etc.)
As a country and within each of our communities, let’s each make the effort to recognize, honour, and support our lost and living veterans who have sacrificed so much in order to protect our freedom. This is the least we can do.
Lest we forget.
Yours in gratitude,
Jennifer Baker, MEd, RCC, PMH-C
Registered Clinical Counsellor, Manager of Counselling Services at Back in Motion
© 2023 Back in Motion Health
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