National Veterans’ Week Speakers Program a growing success
As part of Veterans’ Week, members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) volunteer to give presentations at schools and community organizations across Canada. The National Veterans’ Week Speakers Program offers a unique opportunity for CAF members to directly engage with Canadians by offering them insight into the Canadian Armed Forces.
Between November 5 and 11, CAF members gave more than 2,200 presentations across the country representing a ten percent increase in requests from the previous year. This was a tremendous undertaking, and the final numbers will be released in early January 2019.
Speakers in the news
The program received some special media attention, with some of our CAF speakers being mentioned in articles published in local newspapers. The North Island Gazette published an article about a helicopter arriving with CAF members at a local school to give a presentation. While the Toronto News Review published an interview a CAF speaker gave to a teacher at a Toronto school prior to her presentation.
These are just a few of the great reviews the program has received.
Feedback from CAF members
Members of the CAF who participated in the program were asked to share their thoughts and experiences. The positive feedback showcased the value to members of the Defence Team.
Even puppets Annie and Pilot Dan had something to say when it comes to the program!
Here are some examples of the feedback we received from participating military members.
- “Young people are very open to learning about the history of past conflicts; the students will be looking at the material in detail after the holidays. What most surprised me was that their interest was more personal than professional. The teachers were very pleased to have me with them for speakers week. I even received personal messages from parents of students who had attended my presentation and talked about how much they enjoyed the experience and especially how much they learned. If the opportunity presents itself again next year, I won’t hesitate to give my name. I even told my Public Affairs Officer that I would like to repeat the experience, even if it is not as part of the Veterans’ Week Speakers Program.”
- “The comments from members of the legislative assembly (MLAs) for Fredericton, Lincoln and Oromocto, Mary Wilson, Oromocto Mayor Bob Fowler, Legion Vets, staff and students were very positive. It was my honour and pleasure to have the opportunity to participate in their most excellent Veterans Week Ceremony. I think more personnel should take advantage of speaking during Veteran’s Week activities. Members of the CAF will have the opportunity to speak on the history and importance of November 11 and ensure that we all continue to remember those who have fallen, who shall never be forgotten. In some cases, they will be humbled at the efforts the young students put into the ceremonies and what Remembrance means to them. Continue this program. We shall always remember them. If we forget history, it will repeat itself.”
- “My fiancé and I were complimented because we were able to give them a more hands-on session with a better ratio of presenters to children. We were able to answer more questions and no one was left out. The children had a lot of questions on what military life is like, and we both had different perspectives to provide (he is Navy and I am Air Force). I was pleasantly surprised with how it worked out and what was expected of me. It was very easy and the group I had was a pleasure to visit with. I would like to be involved next year if I am invited back. My Scout Leader was very happy to have a female presenter, and told me that I was the first woman who had ever presented on behalf of the military to their group. It would be nice to offer an option to groups and schools who have only ever seen men present.”
- “This is my second year volunteering and presenting at various locations. I look forward to taking part in Veteran’s Week again next year. This is such an amazing opportunity, and is always well received by the organizations and schools. I would love to see more involvement from the schools, and believe we could increase our presentations if there were a local contact for the schools to encourage participation.”
Feedback from schools and community organizations
The program was a hit with teachers and parents as well, with several schools and organizations taking the time to send their own glowing feedback about the speakers.
- “Fantastic presentation for our school community to see. The speaker was engaging and brought in items for the kids to see. Feedback from staff who attended was that this was a great presentation, was very informative, and made Remembrance Day more meaningful. Thank you so much! Please come back next year!”
- “Thank you so much for sending us Lieutenant Max Brownfield to address our students this morning. Max was entertaining, engaging and informative. He had the kids (aged 4 to 13) totally engaged, and he gamely replied to a continuous stream of questions at the end. We would happily have him back again any time. Both students and staff were impressed with his presentation.”
- “Private Enass Al-Ashi came very well prepared to speak to our students. She had an audience of 300 children aged 9 to 12, and her presentation was age-appropriate and interesting. I want to thank her and Veterans Affairs for helping us organize this event and look forward to next year.”
- “Lieutenant-Commander Hillier gave thoughtful, straightforward, and age-appropriate responses to everyone. He didn’t shy away from difficult topics and did not use jargon. In his time with the students he imparted some profound lessons, such as treating everyone with respect and dignity, the value of military work, doing training and hard work that you can be proud of, that we should be careful and think it through when we follow a leader, that wounds can be both seen and unseen. He represented the Navy and the CAFvery well, as he was dignified, humble and inspiring. His presentation was very interesting to both students and teachers, and everyone learned a lot. The principal noted that more could be done to learn from serving military members. We would love to do this program again, and would aim to keep in touch with LCdr Hillier!”
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