Veterans' Tribute Wall

We Remember

Each year, from November 5 to 11, Canadians join together to celebrate Veterans’ Week. The ALS Society Canada salutes our ALS veterans and all veterans who have served our country.

A huge battle was won on October 15, 2010, when the Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn, then-Minister of Veterans Affairs and State (Agriculture) announced that veterans living with ALS would obtain more rapid access to disability benefits and home-care support. This victory was the culmination of many months of campaigning by ALS Canada on behalf of our Canadian veterans, who, thanks to our efforts, now have one less barrier to face.

American studies show that people who served in the military are approximately twice as likely to develop ALS versus those who have not served. 

We are honouring ALS veterans who have served in the military and are sharing their stories.  If you know a veteran with ALS or a veteran who has lost their battle to ALS, please submit their story (following the format below) and photo to kd@als.ca.

 

Tribute Wall

To learn more about their courageous battles both on and off the field, please scroll down to view our Tribute Wall below.

Leonard B.K. Reid
Branch:
Royal Navy
Served: Imperial Force 1941 - 1946
Hometown: Corner Brook, NL
Submitted by: Cheryl Power, daughter

My dad, Leonard Reid proudly served his country from 1941-1946 during WWII in the British Royal Navy. After returning home from service in 1946 he worked at the Bowater Pulp and Paper mill as an engineer, then foreman of the steam plant there until his retirement in 1983. Dad was diagnosed with ALS on August 8, 1989, and passed away June 19, 1992, at age 69.

He was a loving and devoted husband to my Mom, Helen as well as a loving and compassionate father to me and my brothers, Darryl and Robert.

We thank God for the time he gave us with such a wonderful man!!!


 

Bill McKay
Branch:
Army (Canadian Corp of Signals)
Served: 1960 – 1985
Military Reserve Communications 1986 – 1991
Hometown: Moose Jaw, SK
Submitted by: Jan McKay - wife

My husband Bill McKay proudly served in the Canadian Forces [Army Canadian Corp of Signals] all his life.

He joined at 19 years old and did his basic training in Edmonton, AB and then he went to Kingston, ON for trades training. He went to Germany from 1962 to 1965. He then came back to Calgary, AB until 1970 when he went back to Germany until 1975. In 1976, he went to Cyprus on a peacekeeping tour for six  months and then back to Calgary. He was transferred to Nanaimo, BC in 1980 where he retired in 1985 from the regular force In 1986, he joined  the communications reserve unit in Nanaimo where he served for six years.

He was diagnosed with ALS in September 2004,  and passed away in March 2006. He is missed everyday by his wife and children.

He was taken much too soon.


 

Michael Smith
Branch:
 CF Military  Army, logistics
Served: 1991-2010
Rank: Sergeant
Operations: Palladium, Athena, Danica
Units of Operational service:
     408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron
     HMCS Calgary
     UNDOF Golan Heights Syria
     Fleet Diving Unit Pacific
     HMCS Vancouver
Hometown: Miramichi, NB
Submitted by: Michael Smith

ALS symptoms: Started while on UN missions in the Middle East 2003.  Two years of symptoms with a diagnosis a week after the birth of our twins April 2005.  Continued to serve in the Canadian Forces until 2010.

Canadian Forces service with ALS: I remained working with the Garrison hospital in Edmonton formulating a new spectrum of care for injured soldiers returning home from overseas missions.

Living with ALS: Confined to a power chair, completely dependent on others, speech is slow, outlook on life is excellent.


 

 

Michael Watson
Branch: Navy
Served: 1984-2006
Hometown: Cambridge, ON
Submitted by: Brenda Watson - wife

 

 

 

 

Michael joined the Navy in 1984 at the age of 19. For 22 years he served aboard the HMCS Fraser, Charlottetown, Saguenay, Athabaskan, Toronto, and also as a submariner aboard the HMCS Ojibawa, Okanagan. He enjoyed his time at sea, visiting many countries.

Michael was diagnosed in 2004 with ALS. Michael continues to have a positive outlook on life, travelling and spending time with family.


 

Knute Hansen
Branch:  Royal Canadian Artillery
Served:  1941-1945
Hometown:  Oslo, Norway, and Fort William, ON
Submitted by:  Lynda Hansen, daughter

Dad was a veteran, and an athlete. He was born in Norway and moved to Canada with his family in 1928.  While he learned to ski and jump at a young age in Norway, he carried those skills with him to Northwestern Ontario, where he would hold the district Class A ski jumping title from 1933 to 1941.  He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Artillery as a gunner, in June of 1941, and after serving overseas in the UK, France, Germany and Italy, was discharged in October of 1945. 

He continued to compete in local and national ski jumping competitions after returning from the war, but was also a strong promotor of the sport of skiing in the area.  In the 1960s he was instrumental in the development and construction of the Little Norway ski resort, in Fort William, where he envisioned a centrally located training centre for Canadian ski jumpers.

He worked as a carpenter, and then a building inspector, and raised five children with his wife, Margaret.  Dad was diagnosed with 'motor neuron disease' at the local hospital in 1987, a diagnosis that was confirmed by specialists in Toronto.  He died in February of 1988, and has been greatly missed ever since. 

It seemed so cruel that such a strong, active and athletic person should have to suffer this debilitating disease.