Opinion

EDITORIAL: Hope, after the horror of war

Royal Gurkha Regiment double-amputees Pte. Vin Od (left) and Cpl. Hari Budha Magar gear up for a sledge hockey game in Surrey last Sunday. They were part of a group of seven wounded service personnel from the U.K. taking part in a week-long series of winter sports on B.C. to help their recoveries.   - Boaz Joseph / The Leader
Royal Gurkha Regiment double-amputees Pte. Vin Od (left) and Cpl. Hari Budha Magar gear up for a sledge hockey game in Surrey last Sunday. They were part of a group of seven wounded service personnel from the U.K. taking part in a week-long series of winter sports on B.C. to help their recoveries.
— image credit: Boaz Joseph / The Leader

With Canada’s casualties in Afghanistan standing at 153 (as of December 2010), there is no question that this country has made great sacrifices in striving to make the world a better place.

In fact, the number of men and women who have been killed in this current conflict is greater than in any single Canadian military mission since the Korean War.

Countless more soldiers have been wounded and maimed.

But in addition to the Canadian Forces personnel on the front lines, this country is providing another valuable service for coalition troops: Hope, after the horror of war.

Last week, seven British soldiers who were injured either in combat or during military training came to B.C. to learn a variety of winter sports as part of a program called Battle Back.

The program is managed by Great Britain’s defence ministry and arranges sports opportunities for wounded service personnel to help with their rehabilitation. It was established in 2008 following the creation of similar initiatives in the U.S. (Wounded Warriors) and Canada (Soldier On).

The U.K. soldiers – six men and one woman – were brought to B.C. and introduced to alpine and cross-country skiing, biathlon, snowmobiling, dog sledding and sledge hockey.

And they had a blast.

“It was amazing, brilliant,” said Cpl. Georgina Windrass of the winter activities.

The sports, experienced amid the outdoor beauty of B.C. and the friendliness of its citizens, left a lasting impression on the wounded soldiers.

“We’re having such a good time, and we’ve been so welcomed. We don’t want to go home,” said Royal Navy Chief Petty Officer Steve Brown.

A reminder, perhaps, of a way of life worth fighting for.

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