Monday marked the 72nd anniversary of D-Day.
On June 6th, 1944, more than 150,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy to open a new front in the war against Germany. Now decades later, 94 year old Prince George veteran, Armand Denicola looks back on the medals he received when landing on Juno Beach.
Denicola says it’s not about the medals or any other accolade, but rather, remembering his friends who didn’t make it back home. “Every one of them boys dead or alive should have got the medal and I’m proud to carry it on my chest, but it belongs to all of them, every one of us.”
Like Denicola, many veterans wish to escape the past. “All I can tell you is that it was hell,” he said. To help those veterans suffering from post traumatic stress or in need of other services, Veterans’ Affairs Canada says they are committed to re-opening an office in Prince George.
VP of the Royal Canadian Legion BC/Yukon Command, John Scott, says Veterans’ Affairs is visiting Prince George veterans every three months. Although the service is working, he says the community has a great need for a permanent office. “Quarterly is working for us at the moment, but once the office is established, I’m sure there will be a lot of people who have been just waiting and they don’t want to go to the Legion, they want to go to a veterans affairs office.”
Still, the federal government is providing funding in the form of $5.6 billion dollars over the next six years for veteran benefits. Of that, $2.6 billion will go towards increasing the Earnings Loss Benefit from 75 per cent to 90 per cent of any veteran’s pre-release salary.
Scott estimates up to two thousand veterans would use the office as it would support cities many areas in the north, including Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, William’s Lake, and Burn’s Lake. Veterans Affairs Canada says more information on the status of a new office will come in the next few months.