Second World War Veteran reflects on 100 years of War Amps
On November 11, Second World War veteran Charlie Jefferson was not only thinking of all those who have served and continue to serve on behalf of Canada, he was also reflecting on the 100th anniversary of The War Amps, an organization which has supported him and generations of amputees.
In March 1945, Jefferson was serving as a Lieutenant with the Queen’s Own Rifles Regiment in the Rhine Valley, Germany. He was injured by an anti-personnel mine explosion, resulting in the loss of his left leg below the knee.
The War Amps was started in 1918 by amputee veterans returning from the First World War to help each other in adapting to their new reality as amputees. They then welcomed amputee veterans following the Second World War, like Jefferson, sharing all that they had learned, as well as starting the Key Tag Service to allow these new members to gain meaningful employment and provide a service to the public.
Jefferson says that he gained practical advice from fellow amputee veterans, like how to protect the skin on his stump from blisters. He adds that the moral support he received was just as important. “It became easier to accept your amputation and helped make the most of what you’ve got left,” says Jefferson.
This peer support was then passed on to a new generation. In 1975, war amputee veterans recognized that their knowledge and experience could help others so they started The War Amps Child Amputee (CHAMP) Program, which provides financial assistance for the cost of artificial limbs and regional seminars to young amputees.
When war amputee veterans started The War Amps, they could not have predicted that their founding principle of “amputees helping amputees” would still be going strong 100 years later. Thanks to the public’s continuing support of the Key Tag Service, The War Amps vital programs for amputees across Canada will carry on long into its second century.
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