Today the work starts for real – our Veterans are starting to roll in from across Canada! Our medical clearing room is set up to register the Vets and verify the information on their medical files. Debbie and Steve are working with Dr N and his staff through this process. One team is staged at the Southway Hotel to greet the Veterans as they arrive, get them into the registration process, checked into their rooms and assist them with their luggage and get them settled in. A second team is at the Ottawa Airport with VAC staff to meet and greet our Veterans, move them through the airport, collect luggage and get them onto the shuttle or the Toronto EMS ESU 24 bus – which John B is operating, and working very hard to help every aspect of the operation. Thank you John B!! Team three is heading down to the VIA Rail Station in downtown Ottawa. Throughout the day and night our teams are rotating through the various locations, meeting the Veterans, listening to their stories and more often than not, sharing a laugh!! It is heart warming to see.
We started the day at 07h00, and it the last team has just cleared the airport – it is 22h57, they will get in to the Southway by 23h20, then clear the medical registration and get to bed around 00h30….it has been a full day for the entire team who have worked hard to get everyone through the process as seamlessly as possible. Good thing we don’t start tomorrow until 07h30!
Our Veterans are amazing, and the rapport with our staff is joyous! We have learned so much about them, from stories of valour and courage to how many children, grandchildren and great grandchildren they have.
One Veteran from London, Ontario, was a fighter pilot – shot down three times in 1944, captured by the enemy and sent to POW camps each time. And each and every time he managed to escape and make his way back to England to bring the battle back to the enemy. Check out of photos, he is the gentleman in the white sweater with Jenn S. (I think that he is a little sweet on her….and maybe her on him too!)
Dozens of times today the VAC staff and/or Veterans have told us how thankful they are to have the Toronto EMS Team here with them to help them in their travels. The compassion of our staff is noticed – and we are humbled to be able to assist these fine Canadians.
Tomorrow we leave for France. The anticipation is hanging in the air. Everyone is excited – Veterans and staff! Please continue to follow us as we continue to tell our story through photos.