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Mom who received one cent after soldier son's suicide getting Silver Cross.

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Family of Canadian soldier who died by suicide receive Memorial Cross medals

Post by Guest on Sun 18 Sep 2016, 06:18

Family of Canadian soldier who died by suicide receive Memorial Cross medals.

Sep. 17, 2016

Denise Stark took a deep breath after a moment of silence inside a stately downtown Hamilton church. It’s the same church in which she and her family said goodbye to her young son nearly five years ago.

At the age of 22, Corporal Justin Stark was already a veteran of the Afghanistan war. Over six feet tall and built like an Olympic swimmer, Cpl. Stark had wanted to make the military his career. But 10 months after returning from the explosives-laden battlefront, he took his own life inside the Hamilton armoury while his fellow soldiers slept ahead of a training exercise.

Cpl. Stark’s parents always believed their son’s suicide was connected to his traumatic experiences in Afghanistan, but a military board of inquiry disagreed, seemingly closing the door on officially recognizing his sacrifice and their loss.

The inquiry’s conclusion infuriated many military advocates and a groundswell of family supporters emerged. Local bikers, soldiers who had served with Cpl. Stark, mothers and fathers who had lost sons in Afghanistan, and military members struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder all signed a petition calling on then-prime minister Stephen Harper and his ministers to grant the Stark family the Memorial Cross.

It took time, and a change in government, but on a rain-soaked Saturday, the Stark family finally received their Memorial Crosses. Before hundreds gathered in Central Presbyterian Church, Ontario Lieutenant-Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell presented three members of Cpl. Stark’s family – his mother, his father, Wayne, and sister, Jennifer – with the medal, commonly known as the Silver Cross. Five other family members, including his brother, received Memorial Ribbons.

The Stark family did not speak to the media after the presentation. In a statement, Ms. Stark thanked her son’s regiment, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, and the family’s advocates across the nation. She said their support has “helped us on our healing journey to bring about some peace and degree of closure.”

She hoped her son was resting in peace, “as your sacrifice to Canada will never be forgotten.”

Cpl. Stark, who died on Oct. 29, 2011, is one of at least 62 military members and veterans who have killed themselves after deploying on the Afghanistan mission, a continuing Globe and Mail investigation has found. Some of their families have received the Memorial Cross. But many have not, even though they believe their loved one’s suicide was connected to the Afghanistan mission. The Globe and Mail will tell their stories this fall.

The Memorial Cross was created in 1919 to commemorate Canadian soldiers killed in the First World War. In 2007, during the Afghanistan operation, rules governing who is eligible for the medal were revised to include all service-related deaths, not just overseas mission casualties. The change opened one of the military’s most recognized honours to those who died in training mishaps and by suicide linked to service.

A military board of inquiry into Cpl. Stark’s suicide found that “no definite link could be established between” his death and his Afghanistan tour, according to a heavily censored copy of the inquiry report obtained through the access-to-information legislation. His parents, though, saw profound changes in their son after he returned from Afghanistan in December, 2010. He became withdrawn, easily agitated and had trouble sleeping at night. He wouldn’t share much about his deployment and did not seek medical help.

Because he was a reservist, Cpl. Stark was not in regular contact with the regular force members he served with in Afghanistan. That isolation took a toll on their son, the Starks told The Globe in an interview in August. They believe he was also frustrated by a lack of full-time opportunities in the Canadian Forces, which had started to wind down combat operations in Afghanistan.

A spokesman with Veterans Affairs, which is involved in commemorating military members, said he could not comment on why the Stark family received Memorial Crosses because of privacy reasons. However, he noted that Veterans Affairs will offer an “opinion” on a military member’s death when asked by the Canadian Forces.

“To arrive at our opinion, we look at relevant information, which may include results from board of inquiry, service-health records and applicable legislative tests,” Zoltan Csepregi said in an e-mail.

Cpl. Stark has also been posthumously awarded the Sacrifice Medal, created in 2008, and his name has been added to the Seventh Book of Remembrance, kept in the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill.

After the medal presentation on Saturday, biker Keven Ellis reflected on the family’s long fight. Mr. Ellis is president of the North Wall Riders Association-Steel City, a military-support group that led the petition drive. He hopes the recognition of Cpl. Stark will encourage other families to push for commemoration.

“This young man took his own life but through service to our country, and it’s our responsibility to remember them and stand up for them,” Mr. Ellis said.


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Re: Mom who received one cent after soldier son's suicide getting Silver Cross.

Post by Dannypaj on Thu 15 Sep 2016, 06:17

Heart breaking, I remember this story to well.
We shall not forget.
The GOC has blood on their hands and almost had my blood as well, but my wife saved me and is stilling keeping me inline.

Fighting the GOC is like fighting an invisible three headed monster.

Question: What about all the politicians (local) who stood behind JT's promises to veterans? Where are they on our file? or now that they are elected have we become just grass under their feet to cushioning their every step to an easier  life, one without the physical and mental damage the CAF does to ones soul.

Stand strong and hold the line, wish I could put some of the steak holders in their place and I would.
NO respect for me = no respect for them.

Lies don't fly with vets. Promises made, promises will be kept.
Keep up the pressure lady and gentleman!

Last edited by Dannypaj on Thu 15 Sep 2016, 07:47; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Mom who received one cent after soldier son's suicide getting Silver Cross.

Post by Panserbjørn on Thu 15 Sep 2016, 01:27

A friend of mine was in the same boat, but for his tour in Bosnia. He was legally smoking marijuana to treat his ptsd and he was found out. And then dishonourable discharge later, he killed himself.

Wish his family would fight for his dues.

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Number of posts : 149
Location : Surrey, British Columbia
Registration date : 2016-05-05

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Mom who received one cent after soldier son's suicide getting Silver Cross.

Post by Guest on Wed 14 Sep 2016, 16:40

Mom who received one cent after soldier son's suicide getting Silver Cross.

September 14, 2016

TORONTO - The mother of a Canadian soldier who killed himself after serving in Afghanistan will finally be honoured with a Memorial Cross this weekend, ending a long battle to have the military recognize his death as service related.

In an interview ahead of the ceremony, Denise Stark said she was both stunned and overjoyed when told the family's fight over the death of her son, Cpl. Justin Stark, was over.

"I just sat there and cried — tears of joy and what not, a whole mix of emotions," Stark said of the call that came earlier this year. "The next day, I went down to the cemetery, so I could tell Justin the good news."

Stark, 22, a reservist with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, served a seven-month deployment in Afghanistan. In October 2011, 10 months after his return to Canada, he killed himself at the John Weir Foote Armouries in Hamilton.

A board of inquiry concluded more than two years ago that his tour in Afghanistan did not cause post-traumatic stress disorder — PTSD — which contributed to his suicide and his mother and family would not be honoured with the Memorial Cross — frequently called the Silver Cross.

Stark said she had no doubt her son's suicide was related to his military deployment, although he didn't talk much about what was bothering him. He was, she said, a "suck it up, be strong, carry on" type of person.

"Justin had never had a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress, was never being treated, but we saw the changes over time that were happening," Stark said.

The government had already sparked outrage after it sent Stark a cheque for one cent in "release pay" for her dead son in February 2014 — prompting then-defence minister Rob Nicholson to apologize for what he called an "insensitive bureaucratic screw-up."

The board's finding, which devastated the family, spawned a protest petition to then-prime minister Stephen Harper and helped fuel criticism of how his Conservative government was treating veterans.

Nicholson promised to have the board of inquiry's findings reviewed, resulting in a new decision from the Department of National Defence to honour the family as it does families of other members of the Armed Forces killed in the line of duty.

The Defence Department did not explain the about-face, saying only that the government had now determined Stark's death was related to his military service.

"His name will be recorded in the Book of Remembrance and his family will receive the various memorials to which they are entitled," said department spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier. "We look forward to honouring Cpl. Justin Stark's memory the right way, and invite the general public to commemorate this very important event."

The awards ceremony is scheduled to take place Saturday in Hamilton. Members of Stark's regiment will parade from the armoury to the downtown church where his funeral was held. Lt.-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell will present the Memorial Cross and Sacrifice Medal to the family, her spokesman confirmed.

While Stark and her husband, Wayne, stressed there was no financial gain in the service-related designation, the welcome recognition was long overdue, she said.

"I feel some sense of peace as the right decision has been made," Stark said. "I wouldn't call it closure, as closure for me will be the day I am reunited with my son, gone too soon."


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Re: Mom who received one cent after soldier son's suicide getting Silver Cross.

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