Researching The Royal Canadian Regiment

UN Protection Force (Yugoslavia) (UNPROFOR)

UNPROFOR was established in February 1992 as an interim arrangement to create the conditions of peace and security required for the negotiation of an overall settlement of the Yugoslavian crisis.  The UN Protection Force (Yugoslavia) (UNPROFOR) Medal was awarded for 90 days consecutive service from 01 March 1992 to 19 December 1995.

A Soldier's Perspective: Where Do We Stand?

WO Grant Gervais, Bravo Company, 1RCR
Pro Patria, Issue No. 74, April 1993

The former Yugoslavia; war torn, homes destroyed, villages leveled. Families homeless, starving, dying. Children living inhumanely, eating food at dump sites, living in cardboard huts, waiting for the next load of garbage so they can have their next meal. Families without heat or running water at 20 below zero, attempting to survive with half a home, the other half a pile of rubble. Look left, look right, same scene, except to the right no family, just a 70-year-old woman, alone, attempting to rebuild her home for countless number of times. For her, there's no retirement in Florida, no old age pension, no old age home.

For her, well, she's uncertain if she will see the roof reconstructed. She may die of exposure tonight as one other 80-year-old woman did, found one early morning with half her fingers gnawed off by rats.

Now let me explain. I am a married, 32 year old father of two. My occupation is simple in some ways, but complex in others. I am a soldier of 14 years, presently serving as a United Nations Peacekeeper in the former Republic of Yugoslavia. Stressful, yes, especially because all of our families and us have been separated by half a continent and an ocean for so long. Gratifying? Exceptionally!

Helping in this unnecessary volcano of hatred seems to ease the pain and allow some security to the population's normally shattered lifestyle. As one can imagine, its not a pretty site here due to the scars of war running rampant throughout this country .War crimes, " ethic cleansing" and outrageous atrocities, are committed by three sides not just one, as we see it, and not how the press prints it.

My question to all Canadians, or better yet all North Americans is "Where do we stand?" Do we really appreciate our lifestyle? Think of the money we make, the food we eat, the clothes we have, the educational system for our children, our homes, the holidays. ..and the list goes on. Or do we just sit around our plush homes after a hard (or easy) day's work and complain about the raise we didn't get this year, or how the government is taking away our hard earned money to payoff the deficit. Maybe we should live as the Yugoslavians do for a week or two. Wash clothes by hand, dry them on a line at 20 below zero, three or four times a week in a home riddled with bullet holes. Maybe we should just live in Sarajevo for a week or two and witness the "hell " the families are going through here.

Yes this is reality, and its witnessed by a soldier who has seen both sides. I'm now on the outside looking in, and what I see disheartens me. I see Canadians, so lucky to be born in the richest country in the world, who have money, homes and retirement and still complain about how bad things are. Still, we argue over a language barrier, which can easily be solved through something simply called give and take.

When a nine year old boy comes up to you on the street and attempts to sell you three hand grenades that he has stuffed in his worn jacket, the ones which he had probably taken from a dead soldier, that's when you have to ask yourself, "where do we stand".

Pro Patria

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