By Lethbridge Herald on January 20, 2024.
Eight Albertans including two Lethbridge residents have been recognized for their unwavering support to Canada’s veterans.
The eight were honoured with the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation during a ceremony at the Military Museum in Calgary on Wednesday.
Making the presentation were Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence.
Retired warrant officer Glenn Miller, who is well known here for his work on many veteran-focused endeavours, was one of the recipients.
The other is Michael Duffy who Veterans Affairs says “has been an invaluable member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Veteran’s Association (RCMPVA) for 18 years. He served as a liaison and advocate for his peers in conflict resolution, he honours the legacy of fallen RCMP members by serving on the Graves Committee and was instrumental in the establishment and direction of the RCMPVA Support and Advocacy Program.”
On Friday at the Legion, Miller and Duffy discussed the honour and what it meant to them.
“It’s a great recognition. It was quite a surprise to me. I was caught unawares that this was going to be presented until about a week beforehand,” said Duffy.
“It’s nice to see that the service officers of the Royal Canadian Legion, historians advocacy group in the RCMP veterans association are getting recognition” because they look after those who looked after others in their service to Canada, said Duffy.
Some have visible injuries and others that can’t be seen and “when they retire they need a little bit of assistance and we steer them, we’re the conduit to help them get the assistance they need,” Duffy added.
In the RCMP, Duffy was elected to a staff relations representative position before that force had an association, but rather elected representatives. He was elected once and re-elected five times.
He took that 12 years experience and knowledge into retirement and applied it to advocacy initiative which he’s been doing since 2009, five years in Cypress Hills and the last 10 in Lethbridge, he said.
Duffy helped serving personnel in the RCMP locate unmarked graves, especially the original 300 who marched west – their graves whose wooden markers deteriorated over the past 100 years and have been lost to time.
“We know for the most part where they are so we engaged the commanding officer of the different divisions across Canada to get new regimental markers and have them installed,” said Duffy.
Duffy said the work he does isn’t done in isolation.
“We work with service officers in the Royal Canadian Legion and in Nova Scotia we have a large group of advocates that do a lot of work. Nova Scotia’s advocacy program has grown unfortunately on tragedy, first of all Swissair and then the mass murders a few years ago. And there are people that need the assistance of the advocacy group. And Nova Scotia teaches the rest of us what needs to be done.”
Miller said he was “quite excited and quite humbled. It’s nice to be recognized for the decades of service” he’s done towards advocacy.
“Working with the Military Museum, there’s a lot of rich history in southern Alberta” and Miller was glad to see come to fruition to “have a formally accredited military museum and to continue to share that history with the current generation and more importantly, future generations.”
Miller has helped veterans in many aspects here as well as their families.
He will continue to be part of the overall military family, he said.
“These exceptional Canadians have contributed to the wellâ€’being of veterans, and helped to preserve their memory and contributions,” said Veterans Affairs Canada.
The Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation is presented to individuals who often volunteer countless hours and go the extra mile to ensure Veterans are recognized and supported.
“Every day, dedicated volunteers enrich the lives of Canada’s Veterans and their families. Presenting them with the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation is one of the ways we acknowledge the significant contributions of these individuals, who have gone above and beyond to be there for Veterans and their families. You make us all very proud,” said Petitpas Taylor in a release.
In 2001, the Warrant of the Governor General created the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation with the approval of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
To date, over 1,300 individuals from coast to coast to coast have received this commendation over the past two decades.
The Commendation consists of a certificate, a lapel pin for civilian wear and a bar to wear with decorations.
Veterans Affairs says Miller “has been actively helping veterans and commemorating their sacrifices for many years. A veteran himself, he has been a member of the Royal Canadian Legion, General Stewart Branch for 19 years, with over a decade as Branch Service Officer. Glenn Miller volunteers with, and is a founding member, of the Lethbridge Military Museum. He also regularly lectures on Canada’s military history through the Memory Project. Glenn serves as the president of Lethbridge United Services Institute, president of Alberta branch of the Last Post Fund and is an individual member of the Organization of Military Museums of Canada.”
Miller was branch Service Officer with the Royal Canadian Legion for more than a decade, assisting veterans with their applications for pensions and benefits, transported veterans to medical appointments and visited local veterans, says Veterans Affairs.
He also helped members and families replace lost medals and apply for memorial ribbons, educated families on Canada’s Books of Remembrance and helped obtain copies of the pages. He also participates in the honour guard at funerals as part of Gabriel Angels, offering comfort and support to families. Glenn remains actively involved in the annual Poppy Campaign working with local media and assists local schools with planning of remembrance programs leading up to Veterans’ Week.
“Glenn actively engages youth whenever possible to promote remembrance. He conducts field trips to cenotaphs, teaching students what a cenotaph is, how to properly lay a wreath and about the history of the poppy. He organized the planting of 300 poppies by students for the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Glenn was the driving force behind the refurbishment of the Field of Honour and the Immortal Flame in Mountain View Cemetery in Lethbridge. In doing so, he recruited two cadets to assist in repainting the memorial gates to the Field of Honour monument, giving them a sense of pride in doing something positive to remember Veterans’ sacrifices,” a tribute on the Veterans Affairs website says.
Miller also works closely with the Indigenous community and has worked to promote and acknowledge their military service He worked with elders to develop a bilingual Blackfoot and English poster of “In Flanders Fields” which was unveiled on Indigenous Veterans’ Day in 2021.
And he played a key role in marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in Southern Alberta. He worked to create a Vimy Ridge display for the city of Lethbridge. He also assisted in the planning and execution of a commemorative ceremony for the community of Waterton. He arranged participation by the Canadian Armed Forces, the United Kingdom, the RCMP and members of the Indigenous community.
Of Duffy, Veterans Affairs writes in 2005 he joined RCMPVA as one of the founding members of the Cypress Hills Division until he moved to the Lethbridge Division membership.
“In a short time, Mike took on volunteer duties with the Lethbridge Division, soon being elected to the executive as Secretary, a position he still holds.
” He was elected to the volunteer RCMP staff relations sub-representative position at “K” Division for a two-year term. He was re-elected by his peers five more times for a total of 12 years of service to his fellow officers and RCMP staff.
“This volunteer position allowed Mike to provide support to RCMP officers as well as civilian members who required assistance related to personal or professional issues concerning their duties within the RCMP. He was often required to act as liaison between the members, their supervisors and/or management, acting as conflict manager and advocate. His 12 years of service is a testament to the trust, respect and credibility he was afforded by his peers and RCMP management. During that time, Mike also advocated on behalf of VAC employees.
Duffy currently volunteers as Director of the Graves Committee, working with the relevant RCMP detachment commanders to ensure the graves, gravestones or memorials of those who served are properly maintained.
“The responsibility for grave maintenance lies with the RCMP, but Mike and his committee ensure inspections are done annually by the detachments. He and his team will assist them when required. As a result of Mike’s initiative, the Graves Committee also works with the Royal Canadian Legion and the Last Post Fund in the Lethbridge area,” says Veterans Affairs.
“Mike also participated as volunteer member of the Honour Guard, attending ceremonial events representing the RCMPVA at national, provincial and local memorial services, funerals of the fallen and participating in local parades, community charity events and other related functions.
“For close to seven years, Mike has also been active in the RCMPVA Support and Advocacy program, both locally and nationally, from its inception. He developed a training program for the volunteer advocates and has provided expertise in developing the program policies. It provides information and guidance to RCMP Veterans and their families when dealing with VAC, the Public Service Health Care Plan, insurance companies, long-term disability issues and life insurance issues, as well as assisting with funerals, memorials, interments and regimental burial markers upon the death of an RCMP Veteran and/or spouses.
“Mike has also been actively involved in other community organizations such as the Boy Scouts, United Way and Kinsmen Club just to mention a few.”