Veterans Voices of Canada in town for more stories from veterans

More stories from area veterans who served Canada in the military have been captured on video for future generations.

Veterans Voices of Canada set up at Battleford Legion Branch No. 9 for two days of shooting. Executive director and producer Allan Cameron was in the community to do interviews with seven veterans, spread out over a two-day period.

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That brings to 16 the number Cameron has interviewed from the area over the past couple of years. He was in Battleford in late May of 2013 to interview war veterans. He returned a short time later for more interviews once word spread about his efforts to find veterans willing to come forward.

The finished videos go to the VetVoiceCan.org website, and to schools, museums and individual Legions across Canada. A copy is also donated to the families of the veterans interviewed.

Cameron has filmed these stories across Canada and notes each one of the stories he hears from veterans is unique.

"They're all different. I could talk to 100 Korean War veterans, 100 Afghanistan veterans, 100 World War II veterans. They're all different. It's always coming back and talking to everyone who wants to tell their story. Every one of the stories is different."

In his last trip to Battleford, Cameron noted that capturing the recollections of Second World War and Korean War veterans was a big focus. In his return visits he has also focused on collecting the experiences of those who've served in Afghanistan.

One of those interviewed in Battleford this go-round was Master Corporal Byron Rodriguez, who served for Canada as a medic in the mission in Afghanistan. "He was wounded twice, he did some amazing things in Afghanistan, saved a lot of lives over there," Cameron said.

Rodriguez, who recently retired from the military and now works for the City of North Battleford, was happy to tell his story for Cameron's camera. He was interviewed for over an hour on Friday afternoon.

"I think it's wonderful," said Rodriguez, who hopes telling his story will educate people on an issue important to those who served in Afghanistan - the issue of post-traumatic stress disorder.

"We have to talk about it, we have to let people know about what we went through, and hopefully they will be more understanding when it comes to PTSD," said Rodriguez.

"That's the big issue we have, that people, because they don't see an injury, they don't see something physical, they don't realize there are other injuries."

Rodriguez is quick to point out, however, people in the Battlefords have been very accepting and understanding of the issue. "That's what we need, people to accept us for what we have done."

In addition to Rodriguez, among those Cameron interviewed included a Second World War bomber who flew the Mosquito aircraft in combat as a night fighter pilot. Also, he interviewed some veterans of the Cold War era.

"It's been a pretty cool experience for me again," said Cameron, who added, "it's almost as good for me as it is for the veterans. I know they appreciate it, I know that they're understanding of what I'm trying to do and I appreciate them coming along."

Every trip to the Battlefords for the Sylvan Lake-based Cameron produces more leads to people with interesting stories.

"I know there's a few more around the area that I'd like to give the opportunity to talk as well, and talk about their experiences and let us know what they've done for us."

Cameron also wants to hear from veterans outside the immediate Battlefords area, such as in the Unity and elsewhere in the Northwest, who've served in the wars.

He urged any veterans in the area and the region to "get it touch with us, come forward, so we can set up a later time to come back to tell their stories." He urges anyone in the Canadian military who feel they have a story to tell to get in contact with him.

Cameron can be reached at ac@vetvoicecan.org, and Veterans Voices of Canada can also be found on Facebook. Also, people are encouraged to contact local legions for information. A local point of contact is president Esther Delainey of Legion No. 9 in Battleford who has assisted in setting up and co-ordinating the interviews.

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