Honourable senators, care and compassion are two things that we, as human beings, require. They expand and multiply when we offer them to others, as well as when we offer them to ourselves. I think you will find that, indeed, when we lend our hand to help another, we end up opening our own hearts in the process.
Our veterans are a group that are in particular need of our help, given the trauma they often experience. I have recently become an ambassador for VETS Canada, an organization that aims to help veterans in need, and I would like to share a bit about them with you.
VETS Canada is a grassroots organization that was started in 2010 by Jim Lowther, a veteran himself, to keep veterans who had lost their families and were living on the streets in high-risk situations from slipping through the cracks. He and his wife, Debbie, formed a small team in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to seek out homeless and at-risk veterans and to help them integrate back into civilian life. Over the years, this has evolved to providing aid of all sorts to veterans in need, including anything from help with groceries or a power bill to emotional or mental health support. A favourite motto of the organization is “They’ve given so much. It’s our turn to give back.”
VETS Canada operates from coast to coast to coast with three drop-in support centres across the country with over 1,400 active volunteers. To date, they have assisted with over 12,000 veterans’ cases and have helped to house 984 veterans.
One of their most successful and impactful endeavours has been their Guitars for Vets program. This program matches veterans or still-serving members who suffer from PTSD or other service-related disabilities with a gently used guitar and provides them with 10 free lessons with a teacher in order to put “the healing power of music in the hands of heroes.”
VETS Canada also recognizes the unique challenges that face women veterans, and their program In Her Boots brings needed items to shelters. VETS Canada also works with shelters in bringing awareness to the particular needs of women veterans and what questions they should be asking in order to best help them.
Honourable senators, I am honoured to support this worthy organization, and I encourage you to read about the valuable work they are doing for our servicemen and women. Sometimes it is not that we do not care, but that we do not remember. We should tie that thought to action. Please remember our veterans and please remember VETS Canada.