Showing thanks to veterans

Image of Nick Seebruch
By Nick Seebruch
Showing thanks to veterans
Retired Master Cpl. Scott Atkinson and his wife Dawn at the annual Take a Vet to Dinner evening at the Ramada Inn on Sunday, October 27, 2019 (Nick Seebruch/ Seaway News).

CORNWALL, Ontario – Nearly 90 veterans were given a free meal with their family and friends at the Ramada Inn on Sunday night, Oct. 27 as a way to say thanks.

In all, around 250 people attended this year’s Take a Vet to Dinner event which was supported through donations from local sponsors.

Gord Lanctot, a retired military chaplain said that it was a good way to say thanks and get a chance to reconnect with old friends.

“It is a way of saying thank you for all those years of service and some reunite with people they served with or see friends or connect with someone who they have something in common with,” said Lanctot.

The event was supported by local veterans clubs such as the Army Navy Air Force Club, the local RCAF Wing, the local Navy Club and the local branch of the Canadian Legion.

“We often remember those who have fallen,” said Lanctot quoting retired Canadian General Rick Hillier. “But, we often fail to give honour to those who have come home and are changed forever.”

A special guest speaker who was invited to come to the event on Sunday was retired Master Cpl. Scott Atkinson.

Atkinson served in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and was later transferred to Tehular Force as a Logistic Clerk. He joined the military in 1992 and had a tour of duty in Bosnia in 1998 and two tours in Afghanistan in 2008 and 2011 respectively.

When he came home, Atkinson struggled with substance abuse, but said that the Invictus Games helped him recover and gave him something to work towards.

The Invictus Games were started by Prince Harry of the United Kingdom and is an international sporting event for veterans of any level of ability.

“It gave me a goal and it gave me a reason,” said Atkinson. “It gave me something to work towards.”

Atkinson’s advice to veterans who want to play sports is to find something that supports their abilities. He explained how one veteran he knows who is wheelchair bound excels in golf, and how others find their passion in sled hockey.

Atkinson said that same attitude goes a long way towards recovery.

“It is like a sport,” he said. “You have to work up to it to talk about the struggles you’ve gone through.”

Atkinson supports his wife, Dawn, as a volunteer with the wellness centre in Ottawa called CannaConnect. Atkinson and his wife started the Ottawa branch office of CannaConnect together.

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