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Communication to Families

misinformation

I will never forget…  My husband was on his third tour and I was at a playgroup with my 3 year old.  Another spouse came up to me and conspiratorially confided in me “Hey…. did you hear?  The brigade has set up a brothel outside the camp in Bosnia”.  It wasn’t until I got home that I was able to chuckle about this, but at the time I was gob-smacked.  Even if she heard this rumour, how could she possibly believe it?

With the advent of social media these crazy rumours seem to be getting worse.  This is compounded by the fact that not all of our darling spouses are very good at bringing home all the information.

In October 2015 our country elected a new government and I watched the rumours ramp up again surrounding the deployment of troops to Syria. Would our troops be leaving?  Would they be away from their families at Christmas? What would they be doing?

On November 13th the Commanding Officer of 2RCHA did something fantastic.  He embraced Social Media and spoke directly to the families of his soldiers.  It was simple, clear and honest and I am sure it put so many anxieties to rest. It was also widely shared on social media  outside the 2RCHA family.  Sometimes even the grown ups don’t have all the information.  In one post, he was able to bypass the BS and let families know directly what they were up against.  I wish this was around during our early deployments and as a spouse I really hope more Commanders utilize social media this way in the future.

2rcha 2nd Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery

Syrian refugee update for the spouses and family of our soldiers. Presently, the Canadian Government has not made any decisions, so please don’t give in to gossip or speculation. As reported in the news, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have been proactive in planning to assist the government in its pledge to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by year’s end. We are soldiers employed by the Government of Canada to do its bidding when she calls and we will do whatever our new government asks of us in helping mitigate the worst humanitarian crisis since WWII, with more than 4,000,000 Syrians displaced from their homes.

So what do we know? We know that the military is likely to be involved in some way, shape, or form. Certain units, including 2 RCHA may have a roll to play, but at this time, we do not know what that roll is or exactly when. We know that we have five personnel that are part of the CAF’s high-readiness unit tasked to evacuate Canadians from a disaster zone, and they could potentially find themselves in the Middle East helping with efforts at that end. 2 RCHA assumes the Immediate Response Unit (IRU) task for Ontario on 1 December until 15 April, but as it stands now, we do not yet have a task to assist with refugees at this end. For the almost 200 soldiers we have identified in the IRU (myself, the RSM, and the Regimental leadership included), this does mean some restrictions on leave and how far those tasked to the IRU can travel.

Of course, should we be tasked to help the Government of Canada in this monumental task, then the possibility exists that our men and women may be away from their families at Christmas. Please be reminded that this is why we serve and why we so proudly wear the Canadian flag on our uniform. I promise we will communicate more once we have more information.

– LCol Sonny Hatton, CO

What do you think of his approach?

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But they are so Resilient

Two kids.  Lots of moves.  My daughter went into grade 5 in her fifth school.  But they are so resilient.  French, move, No French, move, French, move, No French, move… suddenly there is no choice.  The French ship has sailed.  Not by choice, but due to the fact that my husband serves in the Canadian Armed Forces.  But they are so resilient.

My 12 year old daughter announced to me the other day that she is no good at long distance relationships.  Seriously?  She has lost more close friends than many people have in a lifetime.  What she takes away from that is not that her parents keep moving her but that she is ‘terrible at long distance relationships’.  But she is so resilient.

I wonder.  Am I going to look back at our lives and say that the experience has made them better people, or are we going to look back and say ‘I wish we had done things differently’?  My husband lived this life as a kid and he turned out just fine.  People will tell you this all the time, but I think it depends on the kid.  Depends on the years that you move…

‘But they are so resilient’.  Sometimes I wonder if this isn’t just my internal propaganda machine.

I guess we will just have to wait and see.

What do you think? Do you think that our military lifestyle makes our kids more resilient?  Do any of you have parent guilt over the choices we make?

Sun Life Military Benefits – FYI

Sometimes I wish my husband’s name was Pat… or Chris.

Every single move we arrive in the new location and after the boxes are put away and the house is turned into a home, I get to work on my list of calls. I learned long ago to make a list with all the names, account numbers and phone numbers of every credit card, every bank, and every utility company. This allows me to run down the page making the address changes as required – without having to search for each number. I laughed when we moved from Pet to Gagetown. The nice lady from the Kentucky call centre could never quite understood what I was saying.. “yes that is right,  we moved from P-E-T-A-W-A-W-A to O-R-O-M-O-C-T-O.

The thing that has always made me angry is when you are able to change your address but they insist on speaking with your husband to allow him to change his information. While I understand this in principal, it is a bit of a joke. If his name were Chris, I could easily answer all the security questions and move on. Or… If I asked my brother or a male friend to do it they would accept that. Really? Security? Keeping my information safe? I call B.S.

We have been doing this Army thing for 23 years. In that time my military family has moved a ton and my spouse has been gone for more than I care to remember. So… just handing the phone over to my husband is not always a possibility. Grrrr.

Sun Life
In the past 23 years I have been the person that has managed all the medical and dental claims. I have always found Sun Life to be incredibly unhelpful when I have needed to call them. They answer the phone curtly and with an immediate demand for your certificate number. (particularly striking a couple of years ago when I had to call the Apple Care Centre and then Sun Life)

Today I was trying to clean up the family desk (aka pig sty) and found glasses receipts for my son and myself. I was pretty sure that I had sent the claim in… almost positive. So I called the friendly folks at Sun Life just to be sure. After answering a litany of his security questions I finally got to my question. Could he tell me if I had put in a claim for glasses. He told me that he was only able to answer that question to my husband.

To my husband!!  My glasses!

To be fair, the Sun Life man was able to tell me when I was next eligible for glasses but he could not discuss the specifics of the claim with me. How is it possible that an organization that has members leaving at the drop of a hat will not release information to the member’s spouse! The one that likely manages all the family medical receipts… and how is it possible that this has not come up my past 23 years of dealing with these most customer-friendly folks.

I asked him if there was a form that my husband could fill out so that I could have access to this information. He told me that my husband could write a letter including the following: (this information is not available on their website)

1. Name, Policy and Certificate number. (serving member contract number is 055555)
2. What type of information is to be released:
a. coverage information
b. medical and dental plan (serving members use medical)
c. disability claims
d. other (specify)
3. Who the information may be released to.
4. The purposes of the release:
a. providing assistance in appeal and dispute of claims.
b. receiving ongoing claims information.
c. Obtaining more information on the individual’s behalf.
d. other (specify)
5. Signature

Send to: (Updated Address: Mar 22, 2017)
Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada
PO Box 6192, STN CV
Montreal, QC
H3C 4R2 (613-247-5100) or (1-888-757-7427)

I still wish my husband’s name was Chris.

A Sad Day in Ottawa

Itomb-of-the-unknown-soldiert’s been a year.  One year from that tragic day in Ottawa. Although the fear of that day has passed the feeling of vulnerability hasn’t completely gone away.

On October 20, 2014, a supporter of ISIL deliberately targeted two Canadian soldiers in uniform in Quebec killing Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and injuring one other.

Two days later on October 22, 2014 another gunman shot and killed a uniformed Cpl Nathan Cirillo while he was guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the War Memorial in downtown Ottawa. The gunman then stormed Parliament before he was killed by security.

These two incidents came on the heels of an audio recording released by ISIS specifically targeting western nations including Canada. (Global News)  What made these difficult days for military families was the pandemonium, lack of information on the news as well as mis-information on the news. How many gunmen were there? Were they specifically targeting soldiers? Were our spouses at risk? What would happen tomorrow? As a culture we are pretty adept at weathering and coping with deployed spouses but this was different. This was at home.

Facebook helped.

Our local military spousal site proved to be a very useful resource on this day. The site is typically a positive environment where people posted to Ottawa gather to ask questions and meet new friends. On this day the buildings downtown were in lock-down while the authorities attempted to determine how many gunmen there were and who they were targeting. Many of our spouses wear their uniforms to work making them easy to identify.

Sharing of information proved invaluable. Some of the spouses on the site had husbands who had access to phones while others did not. All the while, the media spoke of multiple gunmen with unknown whereabouts. The people on our site rallied around each other and reassured each other with real information. Offers were made to pick up children from childcare as many of the spouses do not have family support and have only been in the community for a short time.

Cpl Nathan Cirillo and WO Patrice Vincent

Cpl Nathan Cirillo and WO Patrice Vincent

That day was terrible. The loss of two young soldiers is tragic. Families are affected forever.  Many civilians were also affected by that day, as the downtown core turned into a ghost town while people waited. I can only imagine how the workers in the Parliament buildings managed to get through such a horrifying experience.

On October 22, 2015 a ceremony took place at the War Memorial in Ottawa. As we approach Remembrance Day, I am thinking of so many families on this one year anniversary, and thanking them for their sacrifice for their loved one’s service.

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