Today is Remembrance Day.
Remembrance Day, celebrated on November 11th every year, honours the sacrifice of soldiers who have fought to protect Canada. Canadians pause in a moment of silence at 11:00 A.M. to remember the men and women who have served, and continue to serve Canada in times of war. In this moment of silence, people often remember soldiers who have sacrificed their lives for their country. In addition to these brave men and women, we should also spend some moments remembering veterans with disabilities.
Remembering Veterans with Disabilities
Of the soldiers who return home to their loved ones, many return with disabilities they have gained during their service. Some of these disabilities are physical, such as amputations or blindness. Others are neurological, such as brain injury, or involve changes to mental health, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). These veterans may need to learn new ways to do every-day things such as walking, talking, or reading. They may have difficulty as they navigate social events or stressful situations, and need to learn coping mechanisms in order to do things they used to enjoy or do without effort. They may find that loved ones treat them differently. They or their loved ones may fear that their quality of life as people with disabilities will be low.
Once home and accepting the changes in their daily lives, veterans likely wish to continue serving their country. First, they need to decide what career they might like to pursue in civilian life. Next, they must navigate education and the job search as people with disabilities. Employers may respect their service but believe that they are less capable of working than non-disabled people are. Veterans may struggle to prove themselves because they are new to disability. They may have grown up believing that the people who reject them are right.
The myth that people with disabilities always need help, and can never be the helpers, is widespread. This myth is likely especially damaging for veterans, whose lives have been changed forever because of their service. One way to remember and honour their sacrifice is to respect the capabilities of people with disabilities. Another way is to make our country’s businesses and buildings welcoming to all people. When we design structures and services that are open to people who move, learn, or communicate in different ways, we show that we are thankful for the sacrifices of veterans with disabilities.
This Remembrance Day, we will take time to remember the men and women who fought and died for Canada. We can also spare some moments to think about veterans with disabilities. We should show our gratitude by giving them the help they need to navigate changes in their lives. Lastly, we can also show gratitude by recognizing that they have the strength to serve society in new ways.