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'We don't want the veterans here to feel forgotten': Old and young veterans connect at Calgary luncheon


The Veterans Association Food Bank hosted a luncheon for more than 60 veterans at the Chartwell Colonel Belcher Retirement Residence in Calgary, with a goal of connecting generations of people who fought for Canada all over the world.

Charles Redeker, operations manager for the organization, says it's as important for new vets as it is for older ones to spend time together.

"We want them to know that their service still matters, that the next generation and the third generation of veterans, they still matter to us," he said.

"Sometimes, it's comparing stories. We all have very similar experiences, just different times and places."

George Carbert served all over the world in the service battalion and is with the Army, Navy and Airforce Veterans Support Group.

Carbert says the retirement residence always hosts a Remembrance Day event in November and he thought it would brighten their day to have lunch with younger vets.

"They did their time," he said.

"Their families are gone, they're in a home long-term, they get wheeled out to the meals, they get lifted into their beds to get lifted out -- that's their life."

He says Calgary has a strong veterans community that helps each one to open up in their own way.

"A civilian cannot comprehend what a veteran has gone through. These veterans will never say anything about what they did on tour," he said.

"But if a veteran sits down beside him, if I'm wearing my vest, they know he's a veteran. They'll respond to him, they'll relax and feel no pressure."

Alain Habel was an infantry soldier with the Two Van Doos and served in Bosnia.

He's one of about a dozen younger veterans serving lunch and eating with the older group.

"One of the things that I find beautiful about this is, as veterans, we're isolated, we are different, we react differently in situations and we come off as different," he said.

"So a lot of times, we're more isolated in the fringe of society. This allows our past veterans to be able to communicate with our new veterans -- to be able to sort of have that energy of that spirit of welcoming and the ability to share our stories."

Bill Cook was a tail gunner in a Halifax bomber with the 420 Squadron in Europe during the Second World War.

Bob Hall lives a few doors down and served in Korea as a tank gunner with the Lord Strathcona's Horse.

The two like the idea of the luncheon and connecting generations.

"Oh, certainly, yeah. It's real, the camaraderie, and when you're in the service, you always have buddies -- you always do," Hall said.

"I don't discuss very much," Cook said.

"It's just Bob and I sometimes kick some things around."

But at lunch, the two are able to share some stories with a younger veteran sitting and eating with them.

"It doesn't matter when you served or what branch you served with, it's a community of brothers and sisters," Redeker said. Top Stories

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