Get to know your Canadian Armed Forces
Major Melissa Reyes Hits Her Stride in the Forces
Major Melissa Reyes came to the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) after finishing her post- secondary schooling and beginning a civilian Government job.
Major Melissa Reyes came to the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) after finishing her post- secondary schooling and beginning a civilian Government job. Although she found the work interesting, she realised that she would need further education and credentials to advance in her career. It was then that she was inspired by a television commercial that changed the course of her life. “[The commercial] said, ‘We do more by 6am…than you’ll do in a whole day!’ I really liked that challenge and the fact that I didn’t have to stagnate in my career. So, I went to the Recruiting Centre that week and here I am now!”
Initially, Major Reyes had moral concerns about working for the CAF, potentially going to war and making life and death decisions. Speaking to a Priest gave her clarity. “I talked to a Priest who told me that I had to think about the reason for the war and what greater purpose would be served.”
Major Reyes now serves as a Communications and Electronics Engineering Officer (CELE), working on space-related projects. CELE’s provide telecommunications and information management services that support Forces’ operations in Canada and abroad. They operate and maintain a wide range of systems including air traffic control, electronics, surveillance, reconnaissance and intelligence communications systems.
Major Reyes’ career has taken her across the country and around the world on postings and deployments. She has gone as far as serving a year at Thule Air Base in Greenland and served six months in Afghanistan. “One of my best memories in the Forces was receiving my [General Campaign Star South-West Asia] medal for serving in Afghanistan. That was a good memory.” She also finds the time to participate in various fitness activities, and is a decorated athlete. She has played squash for different Forces’ teams and participated in the Canadian Interprovincial Squash Championships in Whitehorse and Newfoundland. She is also an experienced dragon boater, coaching a civilian dragon boat team in Winnipeg to four undefeated seasons. Her fitness achievements led to her being the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff Female Athlete of the Year in 2007.
Melissa acknowledges that being posted throughout her career has made it more difficult to establish new friendships and relationships. As a member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) community, she recommends that new recruits lean on the large support system in the CAF when beginning their careers. “I am single and also LGBTQ. I think now that LGBTQ is more accepted in the military, it might be easier for those joining to be more open about their sexuality and thus have a good support base wherever they go.”
The CAF is one of the most highly trained and respected militaries in the world and welcomes applicants from all genders, religions, ethnicities and sexual orientations. Joining the CAF gave Melissa the ability to excel at her career and pursue her passion for fitness, all while seeing the world, and meeting new challenges and opportunities along the way.
Learn more about Communications and Electronics Engineering (Air) Officers
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The Rise of Women’s Hockey in the Forces
Women of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) took to the ice in the 2017 Quebec Region Hockey Tournament held at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Valcartier from 16 to 20 January. Teams from Bagotville, Valcartier, Montreal and the National Capital Region (NCR) took part in the tournament to determine which team will represent the Quebec region at the CAF National Women’s Hockey Tournament at CFB Borden in March.
The event kicked off with a meet-and-greet where all the players and coaches mingled while taking in a meal. “These events reunite former teammates, colleagues and friends from throughout our careers,” said Corporal Brenna Hodgins, team captain for the NCR. “Special bonds are made through CAF sports. We play hard against each other on the ice but at the end of the day we know that we are all part of the same team.”
The CAF Sports Program plays a prominent role in promoting fitness and good health within the military community. “Sports promote teamwork, esprit de corps, loyalty, and commitment,” said Johanne Morin, Acting Fitness and Sports Manager at CFB Valcartier. “Sporting events such as this regional tournament not only inspire CAF members to improve their physical fitness but are also of benefit to their mental health. The enjoyment that comes with participating in sport provides a positive sense of well-being. It’s the good times that help us balance the challenges we face in life.”
After round-robin play in the Quebec tournament, CFB Valcartier edged out team NCR in a shoot-out to earn the top spot. In second place was the NCR, followed by Montreal and in last, Bagotville. The NCR won in the semi’s against a strong Montreal team, and Valcartier cruised to the finals defeating the hard working team from Bagotville. The final game between Valcartier and Ottawa was a 1-0 Valcartier lead for the majority of play. The NCR battled hard but near the end of the third, Valcartier scored another two goals winning the gold and the ultimate prize of going to the national tournament.
Other regional tournaments are held in bases across the country to determine the teams that will represent Pacific, Prairie, Ontario, and Atlantic regions at the national tournament. All five regions will go head-to-head in what has become an outstanding display of women’s hockey. “It’s our Stanley Cup,” said Captain Marie-Hélène Marseille, team captain for Bagotville. “To make it to nationals is an achievement and a highlight of our time in the Forces.”
PO2 Derrick Siska followed his father’s footsteps into the Navy
Petty Officer 2nd Class Derrick Siska’s Navy career began 13 years ago when his father, who came from a military background, explained to him the benefits of joining the Navy. He became an Electrical Technician in order to gain experience in a trade that might teach him valuable skills to use in life after the military. As a member of HMCS Vancouver’s engineering department, he is responsible for the operation and distribution of electrical power throughout the ship.
Although initially nervous to leave behind his established routine in search of a new path in the Navy, Derrick’s career has been full of great memories and opportunities. “I have had 13 of the best years of my life. I’m very glad that I stepped out of my comfort zone.”
Derrick’s outgoing and positive attitude at work led him to be selected on two separate occasions for Operation DISTINCTION, a series of commemorative events designed to honour Canada’s proud military history. On one such occasion, he travelled to the Netherlands and carried the national flag during the Liberation March, honouring the 70th anniversary of Canada’s liberation of Holland at the end of the Second World War. As the only Navy representative selected from the west-coast, this was an important achievement. “When I finally found out that I would be going, I was just extremely grateful, proud, and of course, honoured.”
Honour and pride in his work keep Derrick motivated when spending time away from his family. Although this can be difficult, the support from his family has been the encouragement he needs to continue. “Coming home and seeing how proud my wife and mother are is great, but being a hero to your daughter is priceless.”
Derrick continues to be excited by the unique opportunities presented to him as a member of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). “I have played national level soccer within the CAF. I have sailed all over the world and worked with incredible people from all over Canada.”
Derrick was initially reluctant to listen to his father, who spoke of the benefits of a career in the CAF, but he now looks back and wishes he joined even sooner. “I spent years ignoring my dad while he encouraged me to join, only to see he was right all along.”
Learn more about Electrical Technicians
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Captain Savio Fernandes, Signals Officer
Captain Savio Fernandes joined the Reserve Force in September, 2001. Initially looking for a way to support his university education, he felt compelled to contribute to his country after the devastating attacks that took place on September 11th in the United States. He was initially intimidated by the thought of joining, having little awareness of what a military career would entail, but took advantage of the subsidized education program and studied Electrical and Computer Engineering at Ryerson University in Toronto.
Serving part-time as a Supply Technician in the Reserve Force, he deployed to Afghanistan in 2006 as part of Operation ATHENA. Upon his return, Savio was surrounded by encouraging and supportive leaders in the Forces and decided to transition from serving part-time as a Reservist to serving full-time as a member of the Regular Force. “I very much enjoyed my time in the CAF Reserves. I had an amazing Chain of Command that mentored, supported and advised me. They were instrumental in my transition to the Regular Force.” In his current role as a Signals Officer, Savio delivers telecommunications services to the Forces, especially the Army and command units. A Signals Officer is responsible for the operation and maintenance of all communications systems that are not built into aircraft, or ships and can work in different fields such as policy development, project management, systems engineering and network operation.
Although Savio currently serves in Kingston, Ontario, he spent the majority of his time as a Signals Officer in Petawawa, Ontario, where he was involved in local community activities and even participated in an Ironman. “My fondest memory is crossing the finish line of the 2012 Petawawa Ironman with my 6 month old son. I guess it was a moment where I got to enjoy and share the experience both with my family and my work family.” He credits his family for supporting him and his career goals, “My family has been there for me throughout my career. My wife, my kids and I have grown a lot over the years. We are looking forward to many more happy years ahead.”
Learn more about Signals Officers
Learn more about paid education offered by the CAF
Learn more about how the CAF supports Families
Learn more about Electrical Technicians
Learn more about support offered to families.
Learn more about joining the Forces.
Major Darren Steele, Public Affairs Officer
The holidays are a special time to celebrate with friends and loved ones. For many in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), the holidays are spent away from home, whether on a posting or deployment, with a makeshift family of colleagues. Although these times may result in some great memories, it can also leave members wistful for the comforts of home. One such member was Major Darren Steele, a Public Affairs Officer who was posted to Ottawa in 2000, away from his family and close friends.
He started thinking about seniors at Christmas who spent the holidays without family or friends visiting them and opted to spread joy. Darren’s caring heart resulted in a new program called “Christmas Smiles for seniors”, which pairs volunteer elves who bring donated gifts to seniors in the National Capital Region who would otherwise not receive a gift. Dannette McLeod, a volunteer with “Christmas Smiles for seniors” said, “(Darren) considered the situation of elders in our community who had far less than he did: No family, no support network of friends, and many of these souls with very limited means. Darren contacted a few of the nearby residences to research the possibility of ensuring the elders knew someone was thinking about them and a passion ignited. Darren’s premise was simple - no one should be forgotten at Christmas.”
Darren’s generous spirit inspired many of his civilian and military colleagues and friends who began volunteering for this wonderful program. Last year alone, almost 3000 gifts were collected and distributed to seniors in need in the National Capital Region. Gifts have been donated from as far away as Wisconsin and even Afghanistan, from a deployed member. Volunteers are often moved by the level of joy expressed by the recipients. Captain Serge Duguay and his wife, Master Corporal Caroline Duguay, have been volunteering for the program since 2001. “My wife has had the chance to actually deliver the gifts in person and visit with the seniors. This first-hand experience really hits home on why we do this. The reaction of some of the residents is very touching… If a few dollars and a little bit of time can bring them a little joy at Christmas, then why not?”
This program truly is a legacy for Darren, who sadly is no longer with us. The “Christmas Smiles for seniors” program continues in his memory, where a group of dedicated volunteers calling themselves “Team Darren” continue to run the program. They ensure that with each passing year, “Christmas Smiles for seniors” reaches even more seniors in need of a smile over the holiday season.
As Darren often said, many hands make light work. If you would like more information about donating or volunteering to help seniors this year, contact Christmas Smiles for seniors, or follow his lead and look for opportunities to give back in your local community. Darren is a clear example of the dedication and love that the Defense Team has for those in need.
Pilot Wilfred ‘Leigh’ Brintnell is in the Spotlight during Veteran’s Week
Wilfred Leigh Brintnell, better known as Leigh, was born in Belleville Ontario in 1895. He joined the Royal Flying Corps, part of the Canadian Air Force in 1917 as a pilot. Leigh eventually became a flight instructor and worked in Borden, Fort Worth, Texas and with the Royal Air Force in Upavon, England.
After his discharge from the military, Leigh became a commercial Pilot with various civilian airlines. In 1927, he worked for Western Canada Airways, quickly rising to the position of Manager. As a Canadian aviation pioneer, he was involved in several historic events between 1928 and 1931. These included piloting the first multi-engine return flight from Winnipeg, Manitoba to Vancouver, British Columbia; the first flight around Great Bear Lake; and the first over-the-mountains flight from Aklavik, Northwest Territories, to Dawson City, Yukon Territory. He also flew a historic 9,000 mile trip from Winnipeg across the Northwest Territories to Alaska.
Leigh left Canadian Airways Limited, the successor company of Western Canada Airways, soon after being appointed Assistant General Manager in 1931 to form his own company, the Mackenzie Air Service Limited in Edmonton, Alberta. He eventually sold the company to the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1940, but stayed on to help expand the business into Canadian Pacific Airlines.
During World War II (WWII), Leigh became a manager at Aircraft Repair Limited, overseeing the effort to maintain Canadian military aircraft. He helped ensure the Royal Canadian Air Force had safe and properly working equipment during wartime. For this service he was awarded the Officer of the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.) Civil in 1946. In the acknowledgments upon receiving this Order, it was stated,"The dedication of his exceptional skills as both airman and operations manager during the inception of this nation's commercial flight operations and airmail services, his pioneer flights across unmapped territories and his self-set standards for perfection that fostered the highest operational standards within those under his command, have been of outstanding benefit to Canadian aviation."
In 1952 following WWII, Leigh operated Arctic Air Lines, an aerial photographic business. Arctic Air Lines helped map the North for pilots, especially those who flew mail and supplies into local isolated communities. Within the growing bush pilot community, who flew into remote areas in the North, Leigh had become an innovator. He not only flew on trips himself but helped other pilots who operated in remote areas thanks to his photograph and mapping services. In 1963, he was featured in a story produced by the CBC about bush pilots.
Leigh Brintnell died in Edmonton, Alberta in 1971, and was inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame in 1976. As a memorial to Leigh, a neighborhood near Edmonton was named Brintnell in his honor. As of the 2005 Census, 154 residences live in Brintnell, Alberta made up of mainly single family homes that feature community parks, where the streets have aviation themed names.
On November 11th, we pause to remember Leigh Brintnell and all of Canada’s Veterans. Their courage, service and sacrifice will never be forgotten.
Get more information on occupations available with the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Find out about the training requirements to become a Forces member.
A well rounded career gives perspective to Captain Carl Homer
Growing up in Scarborough, Ontario, Captain Carl Homer’s military exposure was limited to what he saw in Hollywood blockbuster films. He did not consider the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) as a career option until his friends looked into joining the local part-time Reserve unit. He was intrigued by the communications field because he was “always interested in being the one with the radio on his back that could call on helicopters or artillery.” He signed up to become a Reserve member, but was initially worried that he would not measure up to military standard during basic training. He learned though, that the CAF provides encouragement and support through all levels of career training. “All you need to do is show up with an attitude to learn and realize you are part of a team, not just an inpidual.”
As Carl’s career progressed, he decided to join full-time in the Regular Force as a Private Radio Operator, then took advantage of a career program offered by the CAF to become a Signals Officer. The signals field has provided him with many interesting opportunities to deploy. “I have been lucky to deploy to the Middle East, Africa, Bosnia and Afghanistan, each more than once.” Carl’s work in his current Regiment, the Canadian Forces Joint Signal Regiment (CFJSR), has been the most rewarding of his career. In this role he provides the communications and information systems and connectivity required for reliable, secure communications within the theatre of operations, and between the theatre of operations and their higher headquarters.“By working with the CFJSR you really are plugged in to the Forces as a whole, and I am always impressed by the skills, resourcefulness and work ethic of the Signallers and supporters of that unit.”
Carl’s time in the Forces has truly shaped every aspect of his life including his cultural understanding and values. He has made lifelong friends, and has been able to travel the world, meeting people from a variety of cultures and backgrounds and learning from their varying points of view. “Without exaggeration, I can say that joining the Canadian Armed Forces has been the biggest and most rewarding decision I have ever made.”
Carl continues to experience fun and excitement in his current posting at North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) Headquarters in Colorado Springs. The enthusiasm he has for his career as a Signals Officer is a refreshing reminder of the many opportunities available in the Forces. “Just in case it needs to be mentioned, the weapons, communications equipment, vehicles, and getting to work by helicopter or parachute never gets boring!”
Learn more about becoming a Signals Officer.
Discover the training required to join the Forces.
Find out about the Full and Part-time career options available in the Forces.
Lieutenant Colonel Luc Langevin makes Forces members smile as a CAF Dentist
Lieutenant Colonel Luc Langevin always knew his future would include adventure and helping others. He was interested in joining the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), but did not know which path to choose. He also thought about becoming a dentist, but knew that being a civilian dentist would not satisfy his taste for adventure or the need to challenge himself. “During a career orientation class, I found out that there were dentists in the CAF. That was it; I had just found a career,” Luc recalls.
Luc put a lot of thought into his decision to join the CAF. He wanted to know more about the differences between civilian and military dentists and was faced with many questions. Is the practice of dentistry in the CAF similar to a civilian practice? Would the equipment be modern? Are the dental care standards comparable? Once he joined, he learned that dentists (or dental officers) in the CAF work in fully-equipped dental offices, which may be in temporary facilities or on a ship at sea. He also learned that the unique opportunities available as a dental officer make the CAF enticing to someone motivated to challenge themselves and learn new skills in different environments.
He has been deployed on two separate occasions, once to Afghanistan in 2008 and another to Leoghane, Haiti, after a catastrophic earthquake hit Port-Au-Prince in January 2010. Luc’s time in Haiti was like no other: “I was providing dental care to our troops and to the population in general. My deployment to Haiti is definitely the most challenging but rewarding experience I have had to date. It forced me to surpass myself in many ways.”
Dental officers are routinely given opportunities to develop and maintain clinical skills. Luc received his post-graduate specialty training in the United States Army while posted to Fort Hood, Texas, in 2005. Since joining the CAF, Luc has been posted throughout Canada and the United States. Luc’s postings have impacted his family in a positive way: “My children learned to quickly socialize, communicate efficiently in both official languages, and increased their awareness of cultural differences.” Luc and his family have learned, through their numerous postings, the capability to adapt to any situation.
Having been recently promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, he is now in charge of the Regional Dental Specialty Care Centre in Valcartier. It is one of the largest dental clinics in Canada with 60 personnel who provide the entire range of dental treatments to their patients. As a member of the Dental Senior Council, Luc also provides recommendations and advice to the Commanding Officer, regarding various topics affecting the CAF.
Reflecting on his life in the CAF, Luc is proud of the decision he made to opt for a career that fulfills him both personally and professionally. His words of praise for his decision, “Good job my friend; you could not have made a better choice for yourself!”
Infographic depicting Lieutenant-Colonel Langevin, a Dental Officer in the Canadian Armed Forces.
- A Dental Officer's starting salary is $138,665.
- There are international deployment opportunities available.
- Paid education is available to complete Dental School Receive a full-time salary throughout your studies.
- All dental equipment is provided.
- Quote: "In my career, I've been able to work in Canada and abroad while on deployments. I've found the experiences I've had very rewarding."
Find out more on becoming a Dental Officer in the Forces
Discover more on how the Forces supports families
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A Recruiter’s Advice Leads to a Life Changing Career for Sgt. Shouinard
Sergeant Dan Shouinard got his first taste of military life in 1995 as a Cook in the Reserve Force, but left the position shortly thereafter to begin college. After finishing college programs in graphic design and multimedia, he looked into a military career, drawn by the job security and the opportunities to gain experience in his field. He spoke with a recruiter and learned of the Imagery Technician trade.
Dan liked the idea of becoming a visual media specialist in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), traveling the globe to capture imagery of Forces’ members in action.
“One day I’m being sworn-in the Forces, and the next, sent to the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in St. Jean sur Richelieu, Quebec, to begin basic training. Sixteen years later I’m still in the same trade.”
Similar to photo journalists in the civilian world, Imagery Technicians capture important and memorable events in the Forces, preserving photo and video images of the CAF’s efforts world-wide. Some of Dan’s most memorable photographs are of former Chief of Defense Staff General Hillier on his visit to Kabul in 2005, former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson attending the unveiling of the Bronze Airmen Statue at CFB Greenwood, and even Don Cherry wearing an Army hat giving his famous thumbs up to the camera. His photos have been published in magazines and featured at sporting events such as the Grey Cup, where the photo he snapped of a Sergeant in Afghanistan puckering up to kiss a camel was displayed on the jumbotron.
Dan has had many great memories and experiences from his time in the Forces, thus far. He deployed to Afghanistan twice: first to Kabul in 2005, and again in 2011 in support of the Mission Transition Task Force. His career has taken him all over Canada including postings in Greenwood, Nova Scotia; Wainwright, Alberta; Ottawa, Ontario, and his current posting, teaching at the Imagery School in Borden, Ontario. He now has the opportunity to pass on his substantial knowledge to the next generation of imagery technicians.
Prior to joining the Forces, Sgt. Shouinard was concerned that postings would take his family away from friends and extended family but he now says that his career has actually helped him in his family life. “My family has enjoyed the change of scenery that comes with moving to a new city. We’ve enjoyed learning about and exploring new parts of Canada. My family has helped me throughout my military career. Deployments, taskings, exercises, my loved ones have had my back every step of the way.”
If he could talk to his younger self, he would still recommend joining the Forces. “Check out the careers the Forces have to offer. There is something for everyone, there are so many opportunities.”
Check out some of the great photos Sgt. Shouinard has taken in his career as an Imagery Technician.
Learn more about Imagery Technicians, or as Sgt. Shouinard calls them, “The living historians of the Canadian Armed Forces.”
Find out more about military life for you and your family.
Discover the training you can receive with the Forces.
Captain Francesca Ferguson, from Reservist to Full-time Professional in the Forces
Captain Francesca Ferguson first joined the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) when she was 16 years old. Her father was a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force, and encouraged her to join because he believed it would be a great experience. She joined the Army Reserve, which helped her pay for both her undergraduate degree and law degree at Dalhousie University, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She enjoyed being in the Forces so much that she decided to transfer to the Regular Force as a Legal Officer after law school.
As a reservist, her undergraduate degree was subsidized by approximately $2,000 per year in addition to collecting a salary. She funded her law degree, but with the transition to the Regular Force, she was able to find full-time employment in her field immediately.
Prior to joining the Army Reserve, Captain Ferguson was not sure what to expect. The thought of having to use weapons, do drills and conduct patrols seemed daunting. Once she joined, she discovered that these activities were actually challenging and exciting skills to acquire. She also realized these activities would not be part of her regular duties as a Legal Officer.
Capt. Ferguson seriously considered the commitments that come with joining the Regular Force. She was initially concerned about having to deploy or relocate due to a posting – as a reservist she could work close to home and decide if she wanted to deploy. A higher calling and a life of adventure motivated her to serve. “I felt a great sense of pride in serving my country – not to mention the excitement that comes with seeing new places! I’ve been posted twice, first to Ottawa, and my current post at Canadian Force Base Borden, both in Ontario. I’ve enjoyed both positions immensely.”
One of Capt. Ferguson’s best memories from her time in the Forces, thus far, is from her years as a reservist when she was 18 years old. She was sent on Adventure Training in London, England with 10 other Canadians Reservists. They spent a month learning trade-specific skills in addition to sea kayaking, hiking and repelling into caves. They trained with British forces, and made friends that she still keeps in touch with today. It was an opportunity to learn both work-related skills and to see different regions of the world. She also worked alongside allied forces, an experience she can draw upon for future international deployments or while working in a coalition environment.
Capt. Ferguson believes that “the CAF provides endless opportunities for professional development. The career satisfaction, benefits and adventure easily outweigh the challenges, as long as you are open to new experiences.”
Discover what a Legal Officer does in the Forces
Find out more about the Reserves
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Major Blanchet Changed Careers within the Forces and Discovered where she truly belonged
Marie-Noelle Blanchet was introduced to the military when she first enrolled in cadets as a teenager. She was interested in playing music in a military band but eventually learned about aircraft and wanted to become a Pilot.
She watched a video on Royal Military College (RMC) with her family and it compelled her to go. Her dream came true when she was accepted into RMC and began her studies to complete a degree in French Literature as well as training for her military career.
Major Blanchet joined the Forces as an Air Traffic Controller, however, it turned out that it was not the right fit for her. So she was given the opportunity to change careers within the military and became an Artillery Officer.
She liked the position and was good at her job but after a couple of years, Major Blanchet again felt she had not found her true calling.
While deployed in Afghanistan, Major Blanchet learned about the Public Affairs Officer occupation and knew it was something she wanted to do. In 2004, she changed careers within the military again, becoming a Public Affairs Officer. “Before transferring to Public Affairs, I never knew this occupation existed! Once I learned more about it I discovered it was really me.”
Major Blanchet feels that her greatest experiences have been deployments abroad. She has been deployed to Afghanistan twice, in 2004 and then again in 2010.
Currently, she works as a Public Affairs Officer in Ottawa. She is married with two children and is currently expecting her third! She feels that the military provides great benefits, including health care benefits, maternity leave and other parental benefits that help members balance work with the responsibilities that come with a growing family. “I was able to take a full year off after having each child and was paid 93% of my salary. The time off did not affect my pension and it allowed me to provide early care and nurturing to my children.”
To others thinking of joining the Forces, Major Blanchet encourages people to “ask questions and seek a mentor early in your career and have fun!”
Find out more about military life for you and your family.
Learn more about what the Forces has to offer women.
Discover paid education opportunities with the Forces.
Commander Lucie Tremblay: Feeling Accomplished at Work and as an Athlete
Commander Lucie Tremblay, a Military Police Officer in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), has a love of sports, fitness and an active lifestyle. The Forces has been a good fit for her because fitness is an essential part of life in the military. “Joining the Forces was the right move for me because not only do I have a rewarding career, but also an employer who has been supportive of my athletic ambitions,” said Cdr Tremblay. Physical fitness is an essential part of life in the military. The Forces encourages participation in sports because it is a fun way for members to maintain their fitness, which is tested annually.
Cdr Tremblay attended the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC), in Kingston, Ontario, for one year, then continued her studies in French at College Militaire Royal de St-Jean, in Quebec where she earned a degree in business administration, as well as fundamental military leadership training. “The wonderful thing about attending RMC is that the Forces pays you to get a degree. Then, with diploma in hand, you walk off campus straight into your military career. No job search required.”
Cdr Tremblay has a military spouse and they have moved with their family from coast to coast. She deployed to Afghanistan in 2004 and deployed domestically to support the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.
Among the highlights of her 28 years in the Forces, thus far, are the opportunities she’s had to compete as a triathlete. Over the past decade, Cdr Tremblay has participated in many races, most notably, two Military Triathlon Championships in Europe and the 2015 Military World Games in South Korea, taking home medals twice. As well, Cdr Tremblay won the 2014 Female Athlete of the Year Award within her command group and was nominated for CAF Female Athlete of the Year.
“I feel privileged to have travelled the world to compete with fellow military members and Olympic level athletes,” says Cdr Tremblay. The Forces has allowed me to develop my talents and has given me confidence and strength that serves me in both my personal life and military career.” Cdr Tremblay plans on continuing to succeed in both her career and her sports endeavours.
CAF sports have something for all levels of athletes and are one of the perks of joining the military. If you qualify at the competitive level, you may have the opportunity to participate in regional, national and even international military sporting competitions. Team and inpidual sports range from recreational to highly competitive, Olympic-calibre levels. A military career keeps you playing the sports you love because staying fit is part of the job!
Discover over 100 full-and part-time jobs in the Forces.
Learn more about how the Forces supports Sports and Fitness.
Find out more about Paid Education programs with the military.
The Royal Canadian Air Force Helps Out Around the World
The Royal Canadian Air Force, like their counterparts in the Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Navy, defend Canada and Canadian interests here at home and around the world.
For the RCAF that means:
Flying over hostile territory in fighter jets or tactical helicopters;
Searching for people in distress at sea, in the backcountry or rugged mountain terrain aboard a variety of aircraft;
Airlifting food, supplies and personnel into disaster-struck countries; and
Patrolling for pirates, submarines or illegal fishers over Canadian or global seas with the with reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft.
The RCAF means more than just flying; it also includes:
A wide range of engineering and technical experts who keep it at the leading edge of military aviation, ready to meet any challenge, anytime, anywhere; and
Other vital aerospace occupations, such as monitoring and controlling Canada's airspace and preserving the safety and sovereignty of our skies.
The work of the RCAF conducted by some of the most highly-skilled personnel in the world using state-of-the-art aircraft and equipment can be broken down into three main areas:
Air Operations– Missions in support of the Government of Canada priorities here at home and around the world.
Air Maintenance- RCAF maintenance technicians and aerospace engineers work at air force bases or wings across Canada and have the key task of keeping RCAF aircraft safe to fly.
Air Support– Air Support is a critical component of the overall RCAF mission. Air support activities enable Air Operations and in general include those occupations that are responsible for base and airfield infrastructure construction, equipment maintenance and security. These critical activities support missions both in Canada and deployed abroad.
The RCAF is currently searching for qualified candidates for the following support careers: Communications and Electronics Engineering (Air) Officer, Electrical Generating Systems Technician and Water, Fuels and Environment Technician.
Training in the RCAF is always being modernized, with an increased focus on simulation and virtual learning in order to effectively and efficiently train to meet the operational needs of the Canadian Armed Forces.
The RCAF uses top-of-the-line simulators, training aircraft and practices for all Air Operators, Air Maintenance and Air Support trades.
Whether it’s first learning to fly in our state-of-the-art flight simulators or studying the intricacies of flight management computers through touch screen flight control systems - students receive world-class, first hand training experiences throughout their careers so they are ready to serve.
Once in their position, members can enjoy a career with many benefits and great work /life balance.
Consider joining the exciting, high tech world of the RCAF today!
Search and rescue crews save lives
Canada has one of the world’s largest areas of responsibility for search and rescue, due to the vast expanse of land that makes up our country including lakes, coastlines and the St. Lawrence River system.
The challenges associated with such an enormous area are compounded by the varied and often austere terrain, extreme weather conditions and low population density, making Canada one of the most difficult environments in which to conduct search and rescue operations.
January 29, 2016 – crews embody their motto “That Others May Live”
Some of those challenging conditions faced two crews from the Royal Canadian Air Force aboard a CH-149 Cormorant helicopter and a CC-115 fixed wing aircraft from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron based out of 19 Wing Comox, B.C.
In a dramatic sequence involving crews from both aircraft, they rescued an ailing worker off a fishing vessel 200 nautical miles (370 km) west of Haida Gwaii (formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands) on the afternoon of January 29, 2016.
The Search and Rescue Technician (SAR Tech) was lowered onto to the deck of the pitching and rolling fishing vessel to prepare the worker to be hoisted to the helicopter. Once inside, the patient was airlifted to hospital.
In order to safely and accurately carry out such a job, the pilots must maintain the helicopter in a safe and stable hover over the vessel while allowing the flight engineer to skillfully lower the SAR Tech at just the right speed to a safe spot on the moving boat.
One wrong move and the SAR Tech could end up in the ocean or become injured, needing to be rescued as well.
The Canadian Armed Forces is looking for qualified inpiduals to work in all types of air operations, air maintenance and air support roles.
We are currently looking for Pilots, Aerospace Control Operators and Officers and Avionic Systems Technicians. To become a SAR Tech, you must already be in the Forces and must apply for a transfer to this occupation. In addition to the over 100 full-time and part-time jobs to choose from, another great advantage of a career in the military is the variety of training and education opportunities that are available along the way! You can take on new roles that are only available to serving members like becoming a SAR Tech. The Canadian Armed Forces supports professional development and continued learning throughout your career.
There are many exciting opportunities that are available in the Canadian Armed Forces.
An honourable profession for Master Seaman Nijjer
Master Seaman (MS) Kanwar Nijjer immigrated to Canada at the age of 15 from India. As a member of the Sikh community, he feels that within his culture the military is considered an honourable profession. There is a long standing history of Sikh members who served in the British military in World Wars I and II. MS Nijjer wanted to serve his country and has been doing so by serving in the Canadian Armed Forces for the past twenty-one years.
At first, MS Nijjer had concerns about acceptance in the Forces as a Sikh. He discovered that the Forces is a welcoming organization, one where he has never experienced negative reactions while in uniform. In fact, on one occasion while he was in his military attire, members of the public mistook him for Indian royalty!
MS Nijjer began his military career as a Naval Acoustics Operator. He spent a lot of time on ships at sea, where he came to enjoy the comradery amongst shipmates. “When you are on a ship with a group of people that you work with every day, you become a big family,” recalled MS Nijjer. During his time at sea, he also enjoyed the opportunity to travel and experience other cultures.
Later in his career, MS Nijjer became a Resource Management Support clerk. In 2007, he worked as a Processing Supervisor at a recruiting centre and really enjoyed this position. “I liked talking to our perse population and to young adults about the benefits of a career in the Forces,” said Nijjer.
MS Nijjer believes his service in the Forces has made his family stronger. “When you are away on training or an exercise you greatly miss your loved ones. When you come home, you appreciate the time with family and make more of an effort to spend quality time with them,” said Nijjer. Throughout his career, MS Nijjer’s family has always been supportive.
MS Nijjer feels that joining the military was the best decision he could have made. He has established life-long friendships, and has had a life full of adventure and rewarding experiences. A paid education, professional training and participation in military exercises have all made his time in the Forces very worthwhile.
Health Services for Forces Members
Canadian Armed Forces members enjoy many health care and dental benefits for themselves and their families. Military personnel must be able to keep up with the physical and mental rigours of an adventurous military career. With this in mind, the Forces provide a broad spectrum of health care services for both the physical and mental health needs of members and their loved ones. These services are provided in all Canadian Armed Forces Bases across Canada and on large scale operations for deployed personnel.
It is a priority for the Forces to provide mental health services for our members through the care of Psychiatrists, Social Workers and other health care practioners. Physical fitness is very much a part of the military lifestyle. Therefore, the Forces ensure that members have opportunities to access fitness facilities and to participate in organized sports.
Strengthening the Forces is a program that looks at all aspects of a healthy lifestyle.
This includes the encouragement of healthy eating and programs that help members quit smoking or address other unhealthy addictions. A website is available with recipes, exercise tips, and guidance on where to get additional help for any concerns or health issues that Forces members or their family would like to address.
Fun health-related challenges are often organized to help members maintain an active lifestyle. For example, the pedometer challenge is a competition where members form a team and tally up their steps on a pedometer, aiming to increase their step counts and win prizes. It becomes easier to promote a healthy lifestyle as a team when everyone gets on board and when your family can be included too!
Find out how the Forces provides family support
Discover career options in the Forces
Learn more about available military Health Care careers
The Holidays at Sea
Canada’s defence commitments do not take a break over the holiday season, but that does not prevent members of the Canadian Armed Forces from finding festive ways to mark this special occasion no matter where the job has taken them. For example, the Royal Canadian Navy ships are often at sea during the Holidays, where Canadian sailors continue to perform their duties while making the experience as joyful and festive as possible.
For sailors deployed during the Holidays, staying connected with loved ones at home is a top priority. Thankfully, today’s technology makes correspondence much easier than the days of waiting for a mail delivery at sea. Email and social media platforms provide sailors and their loved ones instant gratification through connectivity. However, email can’t replace the joy of receiving a care package, the most highly coveted arrival to any ship during the holidays! A package filled with gifts and treats from home will put a smile on any sailor’s face. Even those who don’t receive a care package often benefit from the generosity of shipmates who share contents of their packages – such as treats, movies and books. Sailors are a tight-knit group so no one gets left out, especially during the Holidays.
The camaraderie amongst Canadian sailors leads to all sorts of good-spirited fun at sea. You will be sure to find someone in a Santa suit walking about the ship delivering treats or personnel wearing Santa hats, flashing antlers and festive sweaters while carrying out their duties. Sometimes carolers will patrol the decks delivering the gift of music. Decorations are hung throughout the ship and there are contests for the best decorated room (or compartment as they refer to it in the Navy). There are also exchanges of gifts purchased before the ship deployed or during a port visit. Traditionally, the ship’s officers serve the crew a holiday dinner prepared by the ship’s cooks, while the youngest sailor exchanges rank with the senior ranking officer (the Commanding Officer) and becomes the ship’s captain for a day. Members of the Royal Canadian Navy who wish to practice their faith while on board are able to do so, and a chaplain is usually available to offer prayer and spiritual guidance. When possible, duties are reduced to allow for maximum participation in activities and celebration.
Though it is not the same as being at home for the holidays, celebrating at sea with shipmates is a unique, festive, and memorable occasion that few Canadians will have the chance to experience. Instead of rockin’ around the Christmas tree, sailors are rockin’ around in a ship at sea. Come join us!
Master Warrant Officer Laverdure cooks up camaraderie
Master Warrant Officer Claude Laverdure was seventeen years old when he applied to the Canadian Armed Forces. His career path started by asking the right questions. When he noticed Forces recruiters in the lobby of his CEGEP, he took the opportunity to speak with them about his options and picked up an application form. He brought the completed form back the very next day and the rest is history!
For Master Warrant Officer Laverdure, choosing a military occupation was easy. He had always had a passion for cooking, and had been taking culinary courses in high school. There was no doubt in his mind that a career as a military Cook was the right choice. After his training he had many options on where he could work. Forces’ Cooks are offered a great deal of versatility with regards to where they are posted. They could be stationed anywhere, from a military base to a submarine, at home or abroad, in any of the three military environments. In his 32 years of service, he has seen a lot.
During his career he has been deployed on missions to Cyprus, Haiti and Bosnia. However, Master Warrant Officer Laverdure most fondly remembers being deployed to Montreal in 1998, during a heavy snow storm which swept the region. There, he felt the spirit of team work and camaraderie amongst his colleagues and with the community. “We served nearly 1500 meals to people of different cultures and beliefs and it was so rewarding to see those in need coming together to be fed and to feel secure and in good hands” he recalls. They also met a number of Canadians who volunteered to help prepare for upcoming meals. It was at this moment that he realized the importance of his role as a Cook in the military. It was very rewarding for him to know that the work he and his team does helps others.
Later in his career, Master Warrant Officer Laverdure returned to the Canadian Forces School of Administration and Logistics in a managerial role. At present, his duties involve providing support to students in need of guidance. Every day is different with students coming to him with new and unique challenges.
The Master Warrant Officer is no stranger to dealing with young adults. In fact, he has five children who are all starting their own careers in different fields. Master Warrant Officer Laverdure is happy to say that being posted to different locations over the years has impacted his family in a positive way. On top of the opportunity to experience different ways of living, his children have been able to learn a second language, and have made many friends along the way.
Learn more about becoming a Cook in the Forces.
Discover how the military lifestyle can benefit your family.
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A world of experience leads to a rewarding career for Brigadier General Guy Chapdelaine
Few can say they share a career as unique or prestigious as Brigadier General Guy Chapdelaine. Throughout his life, his experiences have gained him a wealth of knowledge that have helped him get to where he is today. In August of this year, he was appointed as the Forces’ Chaplain General. In this role, he helps advise the Chief of the Defence staff on matters related to the spiritual health of Canadian Armed Forces personnel.
A Chaplain General also acts as the head of the Royal Canadian Chaplain Service. This service is a unique resource that provides moral and spiritual guidance to Forces members and their families during times of peace and conflict. Regardless of faith or practice, Canadian Armed Forces personnel are welcome to attend services and seek this support.
Brigadier General Chapdelaine’s journey began in 1979, when he was searching for a summer job. A number of opportunities were offered to him, but he decided that the Reserve Force was the best fit. The Reserve Force offer applicants the opportunity to serve part-time on evenings and weekends, at a posting close to home. For Brigadier General Chapdelaine, this meant working as a medical assistant in the Reserve Force.
He continued to work in the Reserve Force for 19 years, during which time he had the opportunity to study full-time for the priesthood. In this period, General Chapdelaine earned both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in the study of Theology. After being ordained, he spent nine years working as a Catholic priest in the Diocese of Sherbrooke and it was at this point that he decided to transfer to the Regular Force.
Working in the Regular Force gives members the opportunity to serve full-time on missions across the world. This prospect was the deciding factor in Father Chapdelaine’s choice to make this transition. His first deployment was a six-month tour in Kosovo in 1999. Two years later, he found himself in Rome, studying in his field. Brigadier General Chapdelaine perceives every travel opportunity as a chance to learn and share experiences with the people he meets. Concerning the current Canadian military, he feels that he “has seen the changes in the Forces over the past thirty years. There has been a focus on education, particularly for officers and an importance placed on professionalism among members.”
Discover more about the Royal Canadian Chaplain Service.
Explore career opportunities with the Reserve Force.
Learn more about becoming a Military Chaplain.
A family man provides help to families in need of rescue
In 2006, Corporal Iain Cleaton was at a point in his life where joining the Forces made sense. He had worked as a custom welder fitter for five years, and had three years of experience as an apprentice millwright. He felt these were transferable skills he could take with him into a career in uniform. He joined the Forces to ensure future stability and uphold a family tradition. His father served for 32 years in the Forces and his grandfather also had military service.
The Air Force was a good fit for Corporal Cleaton. His previous job experience gave him the right skills to work as an Aviation Systems Technician. He began his career working on the legacy CC-130 Hercules, the aircraft used for troop transport, tactical airlifts and aircrew training. In 2009, Corporal Cleaton worked on this very equipment while stationed in Afghanistan. Now, Corporal Cleaton works as a Search and Rescue Flight Engineer on the CH-146 Griffon helicopter. The Griffon is used both at home and abroad and serves a number of purposes including rescuing civilians during tactical airlift operations. He feels honored to be a part of his crew, who are all working together to help save lives.
According to the Corporal, the Forces offers members the ability to do a job that very few people get to experience. On top of the opportunity to travel, members have access to a peer support network that can’t be found elsewhere. He says the ideal candidate for the Forces is someone who is independent, but also able to work with and for others. In fact, his favourite part of the job is “seeing the direct effect that [it] has on families and the public.” Corporal Cleaton experiences this on every Search and Rescue mission he serves on. After all, his work directly impacts how well the Search and Rescue equipment operates, before it is used to save Canadian families from terrain made unsafe by natural disasters.
Corporal Cleaton is a family man himself who is married with four children. He puts great efforts into spending time with his family and makes sure to balance his share of household duties with his busy schedule and travel commitments. Before joining the Forces, it was important to him that his family was ready for his career change from the private sector to the military. He finds that having a supportive family helps him manage both his personal and professional commitments.
Explore career opportunities with the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Discover the types of aircraft engineers work on in the Forces.
Learn more on how the military provides support for families.
Continued learning has been a big part of Captain Peter Kruger’s journey
Peter Kruger was looking for a physical and challenging job that would fulfill his desire to serve something greater than himself. In 2005, after completing his first year of university, he found the Forces Regular Officer Training Plan.
The Regular Officer Training Plan is a paid education program, whereby successful applicants attend a Canadian Military College – Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario or in Saint Jean, Québec. In the event that there are more qualified candidates than the Canadian Military College system can accommodate or your choice of program is not offered at this establishment, and your educational program meets the requirement of your occupation, applicants would be eligible to apply to an approved Canadian university or an affiliate college. Those who have enrolled, receive a salary and benefits as well as complete or partial coverage of their school-related costs. Additionally, once students have finished their education, they will start a rewarding career geared towards their skillset.
After completing the remainder of his degree in 2009, Captain Peter Kruger found the work he was looking for as an Infantry Officer with the Canadian Armed Forces. Military service was no mystery to Captain Kruger, as both his father and grandfather had been members.
Working with the Forces has given him the opportunity to see new places, and take on many rewarding challenges. Throughout his military career, he has relocated to several Canadian cities including Gagetown and Edmonton. Captain Kruger has also had the chance to experience life outside of Canada on courses and deployments. In 2011, he was deployed to Afghanistan to train members of the Afghan army. Captain Kruger has also served two months teaching training courses in New Zealand to his military allies. Additionally, he has attended the U.S. Army Ranger course in both Georgia and Florida. Captain Kruger finds that his most rewarding experiences are when he is leading others.
When asked what kind of advice he would give his pre-Forces self, he said, “Make honest mistakes. Don’t hesitate because of fear of failure to be involved in training opportunities. That is what training is for, and guaranteed you will learn more from trying and failing than if you observe from the sidelines.”
Learn more about the Forces’ paid education program.
Discover what it takes to be an Infantry Officer.
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In search of adventure
From a young age, Sergeant Daniel Bodden knew he wanted to join the military. Service in the military was a family tradition, and in his youth he was a member of the Sea Cadets. In addition to that, when asked why he decided to join the Forces, he responds, “I wanted the adventure!”
In 1986, Sergeant Bodden joined the HMCS Star Naval Reserve provision. Although he was eager to join, he still had concerns about life in the military. He was worried about having to move around a lot, and he didn’t want to cut his hair. He was also a little nervous about military discipline. “I thought it [would be] way more strict. It sort of begins that way, but changes once you gain experience and earn [the] respect of supervisors and peers.”
Sergeant Bodden has a passion for being active. Training for triathlons by long distance running, hiking, and being outdoors are just some of his hobbies. This active lifestyle has helped him thrive in one of the most gruelling and demanding jobs in the Canadian Armed Forces – that of a Search and Rescue Technician.
Search and Rescue Technicians are part of an elite group of primary care paramedics that provide on-scene medical aid and evacuation all over Canada. They are the rescuers of last resort; getting called out in some of the worst weather, to some of the most remote parts of Canada. When asked why he chose this occupation, Sergeant Bodden says, “I wanted the complete adventure…[and to have] a direct and positive impact on the lives of others.”
Rescue missions and training trips keep Sergeant Bodden away from home a fair bit, so when he’s not busy saving lives, he likes to, “be a dad,” and spend time with his family. He admits that moving around or being away can be hard at times but that the Forces has, “an excellent and robust employee and family support system in place.” Regardless of the time spent away from home, his family is very cooperative and supportive of his work.
Aside from the sense of accomplishment, adventure, and reward Sergeant Bodden gets from his job helping others, he says the camaraderie in the Forces is something you can’t find anywhere else. He goes on to say that, “There is such a wide variety of occupations, I can see almost anyone finding their place.” With over 100 full- and part-time careers in the Forces, there truly is plenty of options.
For someone who works in a high-adrenaline, fast-paced, dangerous job, Sergeant Bodden says that if he had to give his pre-Forces self any advice, it would be, “Take it slow, there’s lots of time.”
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Camaraderie Is Key for Lieutenant-Commander Robert Taylor
Robert Taylor felt something was missing in his life until he found the Forces. That something was the camaraderie of working together as a group. He had played varsity football for McGill University and always enjoyed team spirit and working towards a common goal. The Forces is where he was able to take advantage of feeling a part of something bigger. When asked about the camaraderie in the Forces, Robert says, “There is a special kinship that you grow into that cannot be found outside of the military.”
Lieutenant-Commander Robert Taylor joined the Forces in 1989 as the first person from his family to join the military. He finished his degree at McGill and became a Maritime Surface Operations Officer in the Navy Reserve Force. He chose this occupation because of the demanding and immediate nature of the job.
Being a member of the Naval Reserves has given Lieutenant-Commander Taylor many opportunities that he wouldn’t have found elsewhere. “It has offered me a chance to see the world, meet people I would never have met, and allowed me to help people in developing countries.” For anyone thinking of joining the Forces, Lieutenant-Commander Taylor’s words of advice are, “Be prepared for a career that is both demanding and tremendously rewarding to those who enjoy teamwork.”
Find out what Maritime Surface Operations Officers do.
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Brigadier-General Jocelyn Paul found opportunity in the Forces
As the highest ranking Aboriginal member of the Canadian Armed Forces, Brigadier-General Jocelyn Paul has taken full advantage of the ‘limitless opportunities the Forces have to offer’ throughout his distinguished career. He served in Croatia in 1993-1994 as a platoon leader, and in 2009 as a battle group commander in Kandahar. He is currently deployed in Israel for Operation PROTEUS. When asked about his success, he claims, “I never planned to make it to the rank of Brigadier-General and I never thought that one day I would be involved in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.”
Brigadier-General Paul’s interest in a military career was sparked at a young age by his cousin who was serving in the Forces, and by his parents who saw the benefits of joining. “My parents knew that the [Forces] was a great career opportunity and they were very encouraging in my decision to serve.” In 1988, he took the plunge and joined the Reserve Force as an Infantry Soldier while completing a bachelor’s degree. He then transferred to the Regular Forces in 1991 while finishing a master’s program.
Brigadier-General Paul is an Infantry Officer and a member of the Royal 22nd Regiment. He says that the challenge of leading men and women in difficult situations is what pushed him towards pursuing that trade. His favourite part of the job is, “interacting with people and leading the best soldiers in the world.” He also finds globetrotting and having a positive impact on hard-hit communities and people’s lives to be very rewarding experiences.
In his spare time, he enjoys travelling with his family, as well as boating, hunting, and fishing. He also likes to read quite a bit about military, Canadian, and Aboriginal history. When it comes to balancing personal and professional commitments, he says, “I like to keep work issues at work as much as possible. When I go home, I focus on my family.”
According to Brigadier-General Paul, the ideal candidate for the Forces is, “A young man or woman willing to take any challenges and [is] eager to surpass him or herself.” He goes on to say that it’s important to follow your instincts, expand personal and professional networks, and listen to those who offer you a piece of advice.
Having already served for 27 years, when asked where he sees himself in five years, he responds by proudly saying, “Despite the fact that I will then be 53 years old, I will likely still be in uniform and ready to serve where my country needs me.”
Learn about Aboriginal programs in the Forces.
Find out what Infantry Officers do.
Discover what a life in the Forces is all about.
Balancing work and personal life as a leader in military health care
When Danielle Savard graduated from high school, she wanted to think about a profession in health care that would allow her to travel, help others and make new friends. The Forces was the perfect environment for her to realize these dreams. She decided to join while taking a pharmacy program in university in 1985.
Her family assumed the military was a man’s world and would not be right for her. After she was in the military for a few years she proved them wrong by meeting all of her goals and her family was proud of her career choice. There were challenges she had to overcome “I was female and francophone, I did not speak English and had no family in the Forces.” However paid education, second language training and secure employment were benefits she could not find anywhere else. The camaraderie in the Forces felt like a second family.
As her career progressed, Colonel Savard trained to become a supervisor and commanded a large group of staff; the equivalent of a senior healthcare manager. As a leader, she has participated in international operations, most recently in Kandahar, Afghanistan as the commanding officer of a multinational medical unit. Colonel Savard was the first female commanding officer of this unit. In fact, this unit became the inspiration for the story line of the fictional television series, “Combat Hospital.”
As a busy professional Colonel Savard has still been able to keep up with her favourite fitness activities, spending time with her family, enjoying past times like cooking, baking and dinners out with friends. “Like any other person with a very challenging and demanding profession. There is time for work and time for rest in the military and after nearly 30 years I am still able to balance both.”
Find out more about careers for women from our members.
See what a Pharmacy Officer does in the military.
Learn more about Life in the Forces.
Feeling Part of The Forces Team, Warrant Officer Jno-Baptiste-Jones Has Found It All!
Warrant Officer Avril Jno-Baptiste-Jones has a position in the Forces working in administration and finance. It has been a secure career that has allowed her to maintain a very balanced lifestyle. The Forces has offered her a place to grow as a professional with opportunities to excel, while still being part of a team. “I feel part of an organization that did not judge from the exterior but rather focused on my dedication and inner strength.”
Joining the Forces has truly changed her life in many ways and she would do it all over again if given the chance. She also feels that the training opportunities the Forces offers are a valuable benefit to all who join. She has been offered chances to learn and grow within the Forces throughout her career that she feels she would not have found elsewhere.
One of the highlights of joining the Forces for Warrant Officer Jno-Baptiste-Jones was meeting her husband, who is also a Forces member, while they were both on training in Toronto. Before joining, Avril did not expect to see a lot of women of colour in the Forces. She was worried she wouldn’t fit in because of the portrayal of female soldiers as abrasive. However, she experienced a very accepting environment that has truly allowed her to be herself.
She believes she would tell her pre-Forces self: “Consider the Forces as a viable choice right from High School; take advantage of what the Forces and military life and culture has to offer sooner.”
See what a Resource Management Support Clerk does.
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Sergeant Tetrault-Hamel Feels the Army Was a Doorway to a Better Tomorrow
Sergeant Moogly Tetrault-Hamel originally joined the Forces as a Supply Technician, looking for structure and discipline. “The Army was my doorway for a better tomorrow,” he reflects. “Once in the military, I began a new life filled with never-ending surprises.” Since joining the Forces, Moogly has had the opportunity to travel across Canada and the world (including Afghanistan) and attend university. He even credits the Forces for bringing him to his wife, whom he met during his first posting. “My life started after I got my first real posting, met my wife and had my first child!”
Today, Moogly is posted near Victoria, British Columbia. He lives with his wife and their four children. “My life is filled with love, laughter and happiness,” he says of his family life. “Every one of my heartbeats is dedicated to my four children.” In his spare time, Moogly is a writer and plans on writing full-time after retirement. He is also very involved in the Aboriginal community and the Defence Aboriginal Advisory Group (DAAG) in the Forces. He is Abenaki First-Nation and is currently the Regional DAAG Military Co-Chair for British-Columbia.
As a member of DAAG, Moogly is proud of the contributions he has made to supporting Aboriginal issues in the Forces. DAAG provides guidance to commanding officers on significant issues affecting Aboriginal peoples serving in the Forces. It is also a forum for promoting awareness of Aboriginal issues and for members to gather and support one another. “To me, DAAG is also a bridge between military and civilian Aboriginal members. All Forces members face situations where respect and understanding needs to stand centrally on the overall balance,” Moogly says. “My duties with DAAG entitle me to truly impact Native people inside and outside the military while acting as role-model.”
To Aboriginal peoples considering a career in the Forces, he says, “The military gives us so many tools and experiences, feeding our problem solving skills so that we can eventually go back to our communities and become part of the solution.” Overall, Moogly believes anyone who is open-minded, adventurous and ready for a challenge will do well in the Forces. “It’s a first choice to start well in life,” he says of the Forces. “You get the opportunity to take on a challenging career, rewarded with memories, achievements and knowledge.”
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Naval Lieutenant Ansari Found His Place In a New Country with a New Career!
Shaharyar Ansari served in the Pakistan Navy for 18 years before immigrating to Canada in 2001. After working for a few years at different jobs, he decided to come back to his love of being in uniform and joined the Royal Canadian Navy at the age of 50 in 2008.
Though some people may be concerned about going through basic training later in life, Shaharyar was not afraid since he had already served in his home country. He never looked back at his decision to join the Canadian Navy, “though I have not served a long tenure, I have enjoyed every moment of my service.”
A naval engineer, Shayaryar describes his career in the Forces as a very positive one. He enjoys a good salary and support for his family. He is now pleased to say that his son is currently following in his footsteps, as he is preparing to join the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Naval Lieutenant Ansari enjoys taking the time to speak to individuals new to Canada about job opportunities in the Canadian Armed Forces. He believes that a uniformed career in the Forces is rewarding and encourages others to join and give back to a country that provides freedom and great opportunities to better oneself.
Find out what Engineers do in the Navy.
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From Military Vehicle Driver to Cooking Contest, MCpl. Ereaut Uses His Many Skills!
Shane Ereaut started his military career in the Reserves. After working part-time for a while, he decided to embrace a full-time career in the Regular Force as a vehicle driver. That meant leaving his home province of Newfoundland to move to Ontario.
After being deployed to Afghanistan in 2008, Shane returned to Canada and ended up living in Ottawa and now Borden where he is currently stationed.
One of the greatest moments in his career is when he was promoted to his new rank of master corporal in 2014 by the Chief of the Defence Staff. His father, who is also in the military, attended this event.
In his spare time Shane loves to cook. So much so he participated in the open casting call of MasterChef Canada, a very intense competitive cooking show that crowns Canada’s best home cook. He made it into the Top 50 and wowed the judges with his signature omelette! Though he didn’t take home the title, he felt the experience was well worth the effort to represent his hometown and the military, wearing his uniform on the show.
Now that his colleagues are aware of his cooking skills, he has been asked to help out in Army kitchens when required. The Forces work as a team when all hands are needed on deck.
The military has been a career that has offered a lot to Master Corporal Ereaut, “I believe the Forces has impacted my personal life in a good way. My work/ life balance has been great.”
Find out what a Mobile Support Equipment Operator does in the Forces.
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Taking Charge of Her Own Career Path
It was time to discuss Amanda Jardine’s future with her father who is an Avionic Systems Technician in the Air Force. They both agreed that it would be good for her to take a program where costs would be covered so she would not have a student loan after graduation. Amanda was able to have immediate employment once she had finished her training with the Forces. Like her father she became an Avionic Systems Technician. Their shared career interest has brought them closer.
Amanda was really hoping that she would have the same experiences as many of her friends did who went off to college or university. She felt her training and career offered even more opportunities. After school she was deployed onboard HMCS Iroquois on two missions that would take her to the Caribbean and Europe and in only a few short years after joining, she had already received a promotion.
Of her career choice MCpl. Jardine has said “The Forces has taught me so many different things and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without it. The benefits and experience has allowed me to grow as a person and allowed me to experience things I would never have been able to do otherwise”.
Learn more on what an Avionics Systems Technician does in the Forces.
Discover Paid Education opportunities available.
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Captain (Navy) Clark is Proud to Serve
Mary Ellen Clark’s family influenced her decision to join the military. Seeing photos of her parents who both served in WWII and watching her brother return from Basic training in a uniform as part of the Forces, she knew she wanted to do the same thing. It took a while for certain positions to open to women in the 1980’s, but when they did it was the perfect time for Mary-Ellen to look at advancement and to follow her dreams of filling a leadership role. As part of the Navy, Mary-Ellen has gone on missions abroad onboard warships during critical times in history including the Gulf War in 1991 and post 9/11.
Throughout her career, she has had the support of her family but also found a lot of support within the Forces that helped her reach her full potential. As well, the Forces have offered a great work-life balance that allows her to pursue sports activities including hockey and triathlons. She is involved in community fundraisers to give back while maintaining her current leadership role within the Forces.
Captain (Navy) Clark feels that working with people who are dedicated to defending Canada’s national interests, the principles of freedom and human rights makes her “invigorated each day to head to work knowing that I am part of something bigger than simply focusing on me.” It has been an honourable career choice for her to serve her country in what she considers to be one of the highest callings.
Find out more about Navy careers.
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Discover fitness training with the Forces.
From Fighter Pilot to Reality Television Participant
For Max Cameron the military seemed like a great career opportunity. He had been in the Air Cadets as a teen when he discovered an instant love of flying. He eventually became a full-time member and had the opportunity to pilot the CF-18 Hornet, one of Canada’s fastest fighter jets! Max was also glad to see that his fears of living only in barracks and eating exclusively at mess halls were not a part of military life. A career in the Air Force is much like any other job in the civilian world, he was able to live off base in a home with his family and enjoy great work-life balance.
As part of the Forces, he was expecting a career that included adventure, never did he assume this would mean he would have the opportunity to see every province in Canada and go on operations in places like Hawaii, Iceland and Central Europe. As well, the training opportunities have been great. Max was selected to complete his private pilot license for free and received funding to finish a Master’s Degree in Aeronautical Science. Recently, Max competed on the reality series, Canada’s Smartest Person in the Fall of 2014. As a finalist he was able to showcase his military lifestyle to the Canadian public.
Looking back at his life before joining, Captain Cameron says the advice he would have given to his pre-Forces self is “This is a great opportunity and it is going to make you a stronger person. Don’t be scared. Stop giving your father so much grief, he knows what he is talking about when he suggests a career in the Air Force!”
Find out more about Air Force careers.
Learn about paid education programs.
Find out how Max Cameron did on Canada’s Smartest Person!
Colonel Lowthian Discovers No Limits To Dreaming Big
David Lowthian’s choice to join the Canadian Armed Forces was life changing. Living in Ottawa and attending Algonquin College in a business program, David wasn’t entirely fulfilled. After jobs working at Canada Post and Toronto Dominion Bank, he realized that his real desire was to become a pilot. That’s when he decided to join the Canadian Armed Forces.
It helped to have a parent in the military, “My father had served in the Canadian Army and I knew that the training provided by the Forces was second to none. My dad was a good influence once I had made my decision to join; he stood by the values of well-roundedness and did not push me in any specific direction.” Today, Col. Lowthian enjoys his leadership role as Base Commander of one of the largest Air Force bases in the world.
David loves that his job in the military often doesn’t feel like work “My job has been very exciting, I’ve traveled the world and the academic, professional and personal development opportunities have been truly outstanding.”
The family tradition continues, currently one of Col. Lowthian’s children is attending the Royal Military College of Canada to become an Aerospace Controller in the Forces.
Find out more on becoming a Pilot in the Forces.
Discover how training provided in the military helps to encourage well-roundness.
Learn more about the Royal Military College of Canada.
Parent’s Encouragement Leads To Life Changing Experience
Johnny Lau grew up in a family that settled in Canada when he was very young. His parents encouraged him and his brother to join the Reserves as a summer job. They felt it would help the brothers gain valuable skills like discipline and have memorable life experiences. After two years in the Reserves, Johnny joined the military full-time through the Regular Officer Training Program (ROTP). He was able to get his degree in Electrical Engineering paid for by the Forces.
Ultimately, the Forces turned out to be very different then Lt. Lau had expected. “People assume the military is like what they see on TV: people yelling, living outdoors all the time with extreme physical training regiments.” This was not the reality.
Throughout his career Johnny has been able to help out in his community, most notably in 2013 during Operation Lentus, when floods hit Alberta. These experiences have shown him the team work present in the military “the camaraderie in the Forces is something you wouldn’t be able to find anywhere. You develop special bonds with people you go through training or operations with.”
He is excited for the future because it’s hard to decide where his career may take him with so many great possibilities available.
Start in the Reserves and see where it takes you.
Learn more about the Regular Officer Training Program.
Find out what an Electrical Engineer does in the Forces.
Summer Job Turns into a Successful Career for Brigadier General Cotten
Kevin Cotten’s father was in the Air Force and encouraged him to join the Reserve Force as a summer job while in high school. At the time he had no idea this decision would lead to a life long career where he currently maintains a leadership role in Public Affairs for the Forces.
The military offered advantages that no other job did including “excitement, challenges, travel, support services, lasting friendships, a sense of accomplishment, pride in serving one’s country and making a difference in the world.”
Joining full-time felt like the right decision that was confirmed when he arrived at his first posting in Shilo, Manitoba where he was warmly welcomed by the military “family” on base.
Throughout his career, Brigadier General Cotten has found support through health services, counselling and financial assistance. He has also been able to balance his family time with work duties to ensure he lives a healthy, well rounded lifestyle. “As a leader, it’s even more important to demonstrate a healthy work / life balance so others can follow suit.”
When asked what has been his favourite part of the job, Brigadier General Cotten says “being part of a TEAM-Together Each Accomplishes More.”
Find out more about Part-time careers in the Forces.
Discover the support services that the Forces can offer you and your family.
Learn about military ranks.
From Childhood Dream to Helping Children; Captain Wong Spreads Holiday Cheer!
Terry Wong always dreamed of flying, becoming a pilot and seeing the world. After finishing an Aeronautical and Mechanical Engineering degree at University, it was time to make his dream a reality. He was influenced by his sibling to consider the Forces. “My brother was in the Navy and loved his time in the military.” Terry then decided to use his education and join the Air Force where he could fulfill his dream and become a Pilot.
In 2004, Terry wanted to give back to the community, using his flight skills to help others. He created Operation HoHoHo, a fundraiser and toy drive that provides gifts to patients at Sick Kid’s hospital over the holiday season. For this Operation, the military and Santa’s “Elves” fly in a CH 146 Griffon helicopter to help deliver a variety of toys and books to the hospital to put smiles on children’s faces!
Captain Wong has enjoyed a career that has allowed him to help others and provides flexibility in his life. It’s clear what he has enjoyed most about his job, “Flying-I have the best office in the world!”
Find out more about being a Pilot in the Forces
Discover the different career options available
See how Operation HOHOHO makes Christmas brighter for children
Lieutenant Ong is Always Ready to Try Something New!
Lieutenant Sharon Ong is a fan of outdoor activities like hiking and canoeing. She enjoys new adventures, which is why the military has been the right career path for her where travel is part of the job. Sharon benefited from the paid education program, “I was part of the Regular Officer Training Plan through the Royal Military College of Canada…studying Civil Engineering”.
Lieutenant Ong currently works in her field, as an Engineering Officer with the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART). She has had the chance to provide humanitarian aid and work along side many amazing people while most recently being deployed to the Philippines. Sharon helped support communities where houses had been destroyed and supplies were desperately needed. She was able to relate to this operation on a personal level. “This deployment definitely makes me more proud to be Canadian and a Filipino and I believe that my family is happy that I am doing what I want to do in the Forces”.
Lieutenant Ong has made many long-lasting memories serving in the military and plans to continue to grow in her career. Her future plan is to attend medical school. As a Medical Officer in the Forces, she will be able to go on future deployments in a new role, while continuing to help those in need abroad.
Discover the Paid Education programs the Forces offers
Find out more about Women in the Forces
Learn about military Operations world-wide
Major General Whitecross Feels Honoured To Be In A Leadership Role
When Christine Whitecross was in her second year of University at Queen’s in Kingston, she strolled by a recruiting centre and decided to go inside to learn more about what the Forces had to offer. She’s never looked back. The military helped pay for the degree she had started in Engineering and she was able to have a secure career in her field when she graduated.
Over time, she was able to move up the ranks to the high level leadership role she holds today. She says the best part of her current position is “leading outstanding men and women, sometimes during significant moments in history through challenges that are only found in uniform.”
Even in such a busy role, Christine has an occupation that affords her time with her family and to pursue hobbies. When she thinks about offering words of advice about joining to others, she simple says “do it--you’ll never regret it!”
On February 11, 2015, General Tom Lawson, Chief of Defense Staff, announced her promotion to the rank of Lieutenant-General and appointed her to the job of Chief of Military Personnel. In June 2015, Major-General Whitecross will become the first and only female officer to hold the rank of Lieutenant-General in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Learn more about women in the Forces
See how the Forces can help pay for your education
Find out about military ranks and insignia
Discover The Bravery MWO MacDonald Shows As A Forces Member
As an infantry soldier in the Forces, MWO Willy MacDonald was prepared for the adventures ahead. He joined the Reserves with a friend and they later switched to the Regular Force as full- time members. “At the time, I was looking for employment that would be exciting, challenging and fun.” He quickly made the switch to Regular Force, “it seemed to be a good opportunity to establish a great occupation. I had completed a tour to Bosnia as a Reservist and it was such a great experience that I decided I wanted the military to be my career”.
In his deployments to Afghanistan his actions in Kabul led to him receiving the star of military valour for his bravery serving Canada. In a quote from the Governor General’s speech, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean stated “On August 3, 2006, amidst chaos and under sustained and intense enemy fire in Afghanistan, Sergeant MacDonald selflessly and repeatedly exposed himself to great peril in order to assist his wounded comrades. Despite the risk, he ensured that his men held on until reinforcements arrived and that the platoon’s focus remained on holding the ground that they had fought so hard to secure.”
He was also awarded the prestigious Vimy Award for exemplifying a true soldier, one who puts service before self.
Find out more about the Infantry Soldier occupation.
Discover what life in the Forces is like.
Learn about military honours and recognition.
One Veteran's Story About Opportunities For Women In The Forces
When 18-year-old Jeannette Cadieux boarded a train from Kapuskasing, Ontario to Toronto with the intention of joining the Forces, she knew she was leaving everything familiar to her. But she also knew it was exactly what she wanted. “I had no hesitations. I wanted something different than what was available to me.”
It was 1942 when Jeannette and a friend answered the call to women to help with the war effort. The call was made at the right time for her. With a grade 10 education, Jeannette was working as a clerk in a grocery store. “I didn’t have opportunities at home. I wanted adventure and something different,” Jeannette recalls. “My parents were supportive, but my oldest brother was against it. But I did it anyway.”
When she arrived in Toronto, she was amazed. “There were so many of us. So many women were joining the army. I was surprised that the Forces was so big.” After basic and occupation training in Kitchener, Ontario for 6 weeks, Jeannette returned to Toronto and worked as a clerk in the recruit processing centre, where new recruits were given medical assessments and their new assignments. “I met so many new recruits when they came in. A few times, I saw men from my home town. One tough, macho fella I knew from back home, well, he cried like a baby when they gave him a shot!”
When Jeannette married Corporal Michael Siple, she resigned from the Forces and focussed on settling into married-life and starting a family after the war. Although it was 9 years before she returned to the workforce, she feels that her military training and service credentials gave her an advantage. She worked for the mill in Kapuskasing until she retired in 1988.
So, would she do it again? “Absolutely. It changed my life.”
Learn more about women in the Forces.
Find out what life in the Forces is like.
Discover more on military training.
Colonel Kenny Made It All Happen in the Forces
Colonel Eric Kenny grew up watching his father and grandfather fly to great places as Pilots for the Canadian Armed Forces and knew that he, too, belonged in the cockpit. Colonel Kenny decided to join the Forces straight out of high school through the paid university program and had his entire education in Computer Engineering paid for by the Forces. He then trained as a Pilot and realized his dreams “My grandfather and father were both Pilots and although they never put any pressure on me to join the Forces, I wanted to follow this same path.”
Having grown up in a military family, Colonel Kenny was prepared to move around and be posted to different areas, but he admits it was a struggle when he started a family of his own. “I got married 8 years after joining the Forces. As a family, we have moved quite often and I have been deployed for long periods of time. I find that the moves and deployments have made us stronger.” Spending time away is easier for his family by calling and chatting online as often as possible.
Colonel Kenny has had the opportunity to travel around the world, work for NORAD protecting North American air space, and to participate in combat operations, while serving his country. In addition, he is training or taking educational courses to further develop as an officer and Pilot.
For those potentially looking to join the Forces, Colonel Kenny leaves you with these words: “Never give up, always strive to be your best and take care of your family”.
Learn more about the paid education program.
Find out more about being a Pilot for the Forces.
Read up on family life experiences in the Forces.
Read up on what exactly it means to work for NORAD
Warrant Officer Endean Turned a Part-Time Interest into a Full-Time Profession
For fourteen years Susan Endean worked as a computer operator for the Calgary Police Force full-time and the Reserves part-time as an administrative clerk. She wanted to make the switch to the military but was concerned about having to move away from her hometown. When the situation changed with her day job, it was time to make the Forces her full-time career. This change offered stability and good benefits.
With an interest in science and the weather, becoming a Meteorological Technician was the right fit. In this new position she “has been provided with the necessary education, developed skills as a leader and learned how to handle stressful situations." She has had the opportunity to mentor new recruits in the same occupation. She remarks, "There’s nothing like it in the private sector.”
Susan has moved with her position but less frequently then expected and has had many opportunities to travel on missions abroad while making great friendships and feeling part of a strong team. Warrant Officer Endean has been most surprised at how proud she is to wear the Canadian Armed Forces uniform everyday.
Learn more about the Reserves.
Find out what a Meteorological Technician does.
Discover the contributions women have made to the Forces.
Captain (N) Jorgensen and His Family Have Travelled the World
Steve Jorgensen joined the Forces as a Marine Electrician in the Navy but became fascinated with the work that officers were doing on the bridge, controlling the ship. He decided to apply for a career change and eventually commanded HMCS Athabaskan working with her amazing crew. Since then his career has taken him around the world where he has met new people, learned about other cultures and lived in exciting places like Naples, Italy. He and his family now reside in Hawaii where he works with a team of Canadian and U.S. Navy members to protect North American seas.
Capt (N) Jorgensen and his family have relied on the Military Family Resource Centres for support throughout the moves. He has said “I think what surprised me the most about life in the Forces, was the opportunity to have a stable, long term career and to raise a family while doing it.”
Captain (N) Jorgensen is envious that today’s potential recruits have more access to information on jobs then he did. Resources like FORCES.CA help those currently considering the military make a more informed career decision.
Looking back, Captain (N) Jorgensen feels the one thing he would have done differently would have been to join the Forces sooner!
Discover the many careers in the Navy that offer travel opportunities.
Find out how the United States and Canada cooperate in the security and defence of North America.
Learn more on the services and support that Military Family Resource Centres offer.
The Forces Gave Captain Rousseau Unexpected Opportunities
Gabriel Rousseau felt that a military career would give him a world of opportunities. At the time he was a student and part-time Reservist living in a small town in Quebec. After finishing university and joining the Forces, he had the chance to move to a larger city. There he trained to become a Public Affairs Officer and learned English as a second language.
Currently Capt. Rousseau works for Combat Camera. This team is responsible for capturing imagery of the outstanding work of Canadian Armed Forces’ members. Not only does he have the opportunity to travel the world, he has the chance to create a visual legacy and record special moments on film, which many photographers and videographers would be grateful to have in their portfolios.
Gabriel is proud that he has carried on the military traditions of his family. His great uncle was General Jean-Victor Allard, the first French-Canadian Chief of the Defence Staff. “His work inspired me a lot to join the Forces and serve my country”, says Capt. Rousseau.
Making his family proud, Capt. Rousseau has grown as a person and developed skills with the support of the Forces. For him, he feels the military “has provided his life with structure and new tools to be a better person”.
Discover the training opportunities offered to members.
Find out what a Public Affairs Officer does in the Forces.
See how Combat Camera captures the work of the Forces in the field.
Military Support is There for Captain Mink
Captain Georgette Mink's experience proves that being a single mother in the military is more than possible – for her, it has been ideal. Captain Mink is a Physiotherapist for the Forces and has had the opportunity to see the world and raise her family in a secure home. “I am a single parent of four year old twins”, says Georgette, “It can be extremely difficult to manage work and twins at such a young age but the military has been extremely helpful in providing me with tools and resources to manage”.
Captain Mink strongly believes that the Forces offers travel opportunities and benefits that cannot be beat. “What other job pays you to work out three times a week to maintain your fitness and provide travel opportunities while on the International Military Sports Council (CISM) running team? I can consider myself a fully-funded, paid, professional athlete. No other job would provide this support”.
One of her bucket-list items was to travel and see the world -- the military was a perfect opportunity to do both, “Since joining, I have been to Bosnia, Italy, Croatia, Lebanon, India, Brazil, Suriname and throughout the U.S”.
Captain Georgette Mink fully accepted the challenge of being a Forces member with no regrets. She feels that it has been the “most rewarding, enjoyable and satisfying career choice” of her life.
Find out more on what physiotherapy officers do.
Learn about family life in our Life in the Forces section
Find out more on what it is like being a woman in the Forces
Captain Zalot Reaps the Rewards of a Paid Education
Captain Matt Zalot completed his Honours Degree from the Royal Military College (RMC) of Canada and loved the challenge. For him, joining the Forces seemed like the smartest decision, “It seemed like quite the adventure”, Matt says, “there was also a financial component to the decision.” As a student at RMC, Captain Zalot’s entire post-secondary education costs were covered by the Forces under the Regular Officer Training Plan (ROTP). His friend who attended RMC influenced him to join and he would strongly recommend it to “those that want to attend a prestigious post-secondary school but can't afford tuition”.
“By far, the best part of the military college experience was the camaraderie, basically knowing that the only way you’re going to get through your four years is to rely on others and have them rely on you. You form very powerful bonds with those within your squadron, your training cadre, and your degree program”.
As a Public Affairs Officer at National Defence Headquarters, Captain Zalot has the chance to work with media and write news pieces everyday. He also has had the opportunity to travel and move around during his career with no student debt and many added career benefits, including a pension and great training opportunities.
Find out more on Paid Education.
Learn about the role of a Public Affairs Officer.
Major Derenzis Takes the Lead as an Aerospace Control Officer
As a world traveler with a craving for adventure, Major Craig Derenzis has found his perfect career as an Aerospace Control Officer with the Royal Canadian Air Force. “It is the opportunity to work with our allies in the US and Europe, meeting new challenges in interesting locales that attracts me to the Aerospace Control Officer occupation,” says Craig. “We have the opportunity to see and do so many interesting and inspiring things.”
After graduating from Mount Allison University with a degree in commerce, Craig left Canada for job opportunities overseas. He taught English in Japan and worked in public relations for the NFL Europe. Though he enjoyed his experiences abroad, Craig ultimately decided that a career in the Forces was better aligned with his personal goals. “A career in the Forces offers the opportunity to contribute to and influence the most important events affecting Canada both at home and abroad,” Craig says. “There’s also great emphasis on member development – professionally, physically, and educationally.”
Since joining the Forces, Craig has been posted to Germany and the United States. He is currently in Alaska, where he is working alongside the US military as part of NORAD. His wife, who is also a member of the Forces, and his two young daughters have also enjoyed the opportunities for travel and adventure that his career provides. “My family has seen a great deal of the world,” Craig says. “My eldest daughter has been to over 30 countries, and she has yet to start kindergarten! I value these experiences greatly as I believe they’ll grant my kids a broader worldview and an ability to adapt and be comfortable anywhere.”
In the future, Craig is interested in taking on more strategic responsibilities within the Air Defence field. He is currently completing a Master’s degree through the University of Oklahoma, which has been possible through the support of the Forces. Craig’s spare time is devoted to his family, and he enjoys reading and cooking. “It’s understood at all levels of the Forces that a healthy personal and professional balance will breed a more effective force.”
“Forces recruits should be open-minded, adaptable and self-motivated,” Craig advises. “It’s all about the ability to take on new tasks in unfamiliar environments while working under unique pressures.” Craig encourages new recruits to take advantage of all the training and education opportunities available. His formula for success in the military is simple: “Try harder, do better, gain value, open doors. Repeat.”
Start your own career in the Forces by finding a recruiter.
Master Seaman Pitman Found His Place and a Family Tradition
With three generations of military service in his family, the Navy felt like a natural choice to Master Seaman Matthew Pitman. “I grew up on a military base, so it was a way of life for me. I reflected on the life I had as a child and wanted to give my future family the same stability and opportunities I was given,” Matthew says. “My father was a perfect role model by showing me that you can succeed as long as you work hard.”
After graduating high school, Matthew joined the Forces as a Weapons Engineering Technician. “My job deals with the missiles, harpoons and the fire control system,” he explains. “If we don’t have our systems working 100%, we are essentially a cruise ship! Having to fix equipment in a hurry so we can defend ourselves is exhilarating!” Currently, Matthew is an instructor for new recruits at the Naval Engineering School in Halifax. “Seeing every student tackle a problem in their own way has allowed me to become a better instructor and technician for the fleet.”
“The biggest surprise since joining the Forces is how quickly you form bonds and relationships with other members,” Matthew says, reflecting on the close friendships he has made and the strong teamwork he depends on every day. Teamwork was very important during Matthew’s deployment to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. “We were involved in digging latrines, building platforms for water bladders, and providing resources,” he explains. “What at the time seemed to be minuscule tasks to us were very important to the people and they were so grateful. It was an eye opener on how people live in less developed countries and it’s an experience I will never forget.”
At home, Matthew is a husband and father to three young boys. “I met my wife when we were both in high school, at Canadian Forces Base Shearwater. If her father hadn’t been posted to Shearwater that year, I would not have met my wife or have my wonderful family today,” Matthew reflects. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his sons. “We spend a lot of time in the backyard, playing in the sand box or the snow!”
“When I think of the ideal candidate for the Forces, it is someone who is willing to work hard,” Matthew says. “You need to be able to roll with the punches.” Matthew’s advice to potential recruits is, “don’t let the opportunity pass you by!”
Major Hansen Continuously Accomplishes Goals
As a Logistics Officer in the Air Force, Major Janaya Hansen is responsible for coordinating the movement of Forces members, supplies and equipment around the world. “My favourite part of the job is the sense of accomplishment from leading projects and groups of people,” Janaya says. “I can bring my ideas forward and actually instil change in processes and organizations. I also love leading people and helping to motivate them to reach their potential.”
Janaya’s interest in the Forces began as a high school student, when she joined the Army Cadets. “After being part of the cadets and enjoying the experience of discipline, friendship, adventure and leadership, I decided to take a chance and try the military,” Janaya reflects. She attended university at the Royal Military College of Canada, where she studied business administration and psychology. She spent her summer breaks exploring different military occupations. “I found my calling with logistics,” Janaya explains. “There is a lot of variation in the projects I manage, and I deal daily with a lot of people as well – both of which give me motivation.”
Although she had some experience with military life through the cadets, Janaya was still surprised by certain elements of life in the Forces. “The sense of community between members certainly surprised me,” she comments. “It’s quite common to find people to relate to, even though you may not think you have anything in common!” She was also happily surprised by the work environment in the Forces, noting that the reality is nothing like how the military is portrayed in movies. “I have come to find out that there is a lot of room for flexibility, fun and understanding.”
Janaya currently works at Canadian Forces Base Bagotville in Quebec, where she lives with her husband and five year old son. “I like to spend quality time with my family,” Janaya says. “When I need “me” time, I go for a run while listening to great music.” When Janaya travels for work, she balances her personal and professional responsibilities by making lots of time for her family when she is at home. In the future, Janaya is looking forward to moving up the ranks and finding new unique opportunities in the Forces.
In Janaya’s opinion, the ideal candidate for the Forces is someone who is adaptable, open-minded, enthusiastic and compassionate. “Every situation is a learning opportunity that will help form you into a strong, confident, knowledgeable leader,” Janaya advises to potential recruits. “Learn from each and every one!”
Start your own career in the Forces by finding a recruiter.
Major Walsh Put His Law Degree to Practice World-Wide
As a Legal Officer in the Forces, Major Chavi Walsh is responsible for providing legal advice to the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence. “I enjoy advising on national policies and ensuring that Forces members are being treated in a fair manner in accordance with the law,” Chavi says. “No week is the same, and every week I learn something that I did not know before.”
Chavi joined the Army Reserve while completing his undergraduate degree at the University of Ottawa. “I was looking for a part-time job that fit well with my student schedule, offered full-time summer employment and would give me marketable job skills upon graduation,” he recalls. After spending four years at a private law firm in Ottawa, Chavi began considering a full-time career in the Forces. “The main reason for leaving the private sector was to practice law in an international context,” Chavi says. “The attraction of practicing law while maintaining a high level of fitness and frequently working outside of an office was also highly attractive.”
Chavi joined the Regular Force in 2008 and hasn’t looked back since: “Performing high-level legal work with interesting and motivated colleagues, all while wearing the Canadian flag on my uniform, constantly reinforces my decision to join the Forces.” Chavi also notes that the benefits and lifestyle provided by the Forces are much better than what’s available to lawyers in the private sector. “The salary that is offered to lawyers in the Forces is competitive,” he explains. “In the private sector, you get longer hours and limited vacation. In addition, the private sector does not offer the job security and pension provided to Forces members.”
Chavi is currently posted in Montreal, where he lives with his wife and their three young children. “I have a very good work-life balance that would be the envy of every private sector lawyer,” he enthuses. With regular working hours and paid vacation days, Chavi is able to devote a lot of time to his family. He enjoys playing with his children and keeping fit through running and weight training. In the future, Chavi wants to explore his interest in international affairs by pursuing a Master of Law degree in International Humanitarian Law.
“The ideal candidate for the Forces should wear their uniform with pride and should always hold themselves to a high standard,” Chavi advises. If he could give advice to his pre-Forces self, he would say, “I would tell myself to pursue a career in the Forces. The decision to join was one that I have not second-guessed yet!”
Start your own career in the Forces by finding a recruiter.
Master Seaman Tynes Found Adventure Sailing the Seas
As a Sonar Operator in the Forces, Master Seaman Korey Tynes helps keep the Navy’s ships safe by collecting and analyzing information using underwater acoustics. “As a Sonar Operator, we deal in underwater warfare,” Korey says. He enjoys being on the water, where he gets to put his training into practice. “Actually doing the job is the most rewarding thing. We do our best work while at sea.”
Prior to joining the Forces, Korey owned a restaurant in his hometown of Halifax. However, after fourteen years in the hospitality industry, Korey decided it was time for change. With three generations of military service in his family, Korey’s decision to join the Navy was a natural choice. “I was very much looking forward to a new challenge. I also desired to see the world.”
Since joining the Navy, Korey has certainly found the challenge he was looking for, as well as opportunities for travel. “I have been to more countries than I had even dreamed of seeing!” he enthuses. Besides travel, he cites the teamwork as his favourite aspect of his job. “I have made some of the most amazing friends,” he says. “You work and live so closely with these people that they soon become like family.”
The regular working hours in the Navy means Korey can spend a lot of time at home. His wife and two daughters appreciate the time he now has to spend with them. “Being in the Forces gives me more time off to enjoy with my family than when I owned my restaurant,” Korey says. “Now I am able to have a good balance of my personal and professional life.” In his spare time, Korey coaches his daughter’s basketball team. He also plays basketball for his unit team.
“The biggest surprise for me since joining the Forces has been the opportunities for career advancement,” Korey says, citing his personal accomplishments such as promotions and awards. “Dedication, hard work and a positive attitude will do you well in the Forces. People recognize drive and desire. I can attest to being rewarded for the effort I put forth.”
Korey believes the ideal candidate for the Forces is someone who is motivated, enjoys a challenge and works well with others. “If you are an individual who is willing to put hard work into your job, look for additional tasks and better yourself with training, then you can go extremely far. In the Forces, there is a place for you to excel.”
Start your own career in the Forces by finding a recruiter.
Major Chung Helps the Military on an International Level
As an accountant for the joint operations finance group, Major Irene Chung and her colleagues are responsible for the financial planning and management for all military operations that the Forces are involved in. “I like knowing that I am making a difference,” says Irene. “Whether it is making sure that we pay invoices on time while safeguarding Canadian taxpayers’ money or accurately reporting the costs for our participation in operations, as a Finance Officer, I must practice due diligence.”
Irene’s journey with the Forces began at the age of seventeen, when she joined the Reserves as a way to pay for her university tuition. “I have always had an interest in the military. So when a friend saw an ad in the paper for a job with a local Reserve unit, I went along with her to check it out,” she recalls. “I thought it would be a great adventure and lots of fun, which it has been.” After graduating from university, Irene transferred to the Regular Force and began her accounting designation training, which was paid for by the Forces.
Since joining the Forces, Irene has certainly found the great adventure she was looking for. “I have done some cool things, both with the Reserve Force and the Regular Force, from rappelling in beautiful BC to landing in pre-dawn Afghanistan!” Irene reflects. “These are things that the average Canadian may not get to experience.” Over the years, Irene has had the opportunity to travel extensively, including two deployments to Bosnia and Afghanistan. She has also trained in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Kuwait. After thirty-two years in the Forces, the adventure is still her favourite part of her job.
Irene is currently posted to National Defence headquarters in Ottawa, where she lives with her husband, who is also a member of the Forces, and their two daughters. “I think it has been great for my girls to see and live in different parts of the country,” Irene says. “Overall, it’s a great career and it has afforded our family the opportunity to enjoy a good life.” In her spare time, Irene likes to read, knit and crochet. She keeps fit by running and has recently completed the Army Run Half-Marathon.
When asked who the ideal candidate for the Forces is, Irene says, “Someone who is mentally tough! We are put in many unusual circumstances, told to make our way to the far corners of the country or world, and we do it! And, at the end of the day, we enjoy it.”
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Lt. Commander Brunner Thinks the Navy is Far From Routine
As a Maritime Surface and Sub-Surface Officer in the Naval Reserves, Lieutenant-Commander Robert Brunner has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. Maritime Surface and Sub-Surface Officers are the only officers in the Forces who are qualified to command the Navy’s ships and submarines. “There are a lot of highly challenging and amazing opportunities,” Robert says of his job. “There is no routine. The job constantly changes!”
As a young man growing up in Kingston, Ontario, Robert’s interest in the Navy was sparked at the Tall Ships Festival, an annual display of historical vessels. A high school teacher recommended opportunities in the Naval Reserve to Robert. “One of my high school band teachers was also a Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class at HMCS CATARAQUI,” he recalls. “He had a huge impact on my decision to join the Forces.”
After graduating high school, Robert joined the Naval Reserve. “I was expecting to travel, to make new friends, and to have an adventure,” he recalls. In addition to finding the adventure he was anticipating, the money he made working part-time in the Reserves supported him through his engineering degree at Queen’s University. “All my friends at school were so jealous!”
After 27 years with the Reserves, Robert now works full-time with the Naval Reserve and still loves his job. He values his job due to “the challenges, no doubt, and the fact that there is no routine. I would also mention the flexibility of job prospects in the Reserves. You choose your own path.” As a Reservist, Robert has been able to stay with his local unit in Kingston throughout his career. He has, however, volunteered to take part in operations abroad. Recently, Robert deployed to the Philippines as part of the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to help with the disaster relief effort following Typhoon Haiyan.
As a husband and a father of two young sons, Robert devotes his evenings and weekends to his family. In addition to boats, he also has a passion for cars. “I love auto racing and to work on cars with my father,” he says. “We have started to include my sons so we all spend more time together.”
Robert considers anyone who is “flexible in mind, has a positive attitude and the willingness to try new things” to be a good candidate for a career in the Forces. He advises new recruits to try everything, including opportunities outside of their trade. “There is a wide selection of opportunities available. No ordinary business, no ordinary office!”
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Sergeant Mandy is Dedicated to Helping Fellow Soldiers
When asked about her role in the Forces, Sergeant Roseanna Mandy will tell you, “I love my job!” As a Section Commander for the Integrated Personnel Support Center, Roseanna works to support the needs of her injured comrades as they go through recovery. “I see the resilience of Forces members in their recoveries and return to wellness and in their pursuit of excellence,” Roseanna enthuses. “It is an absolutely incredible job. I work with amazing people, and I work for amazing people. Doesn’t get much better than that!”
Roseanna joined the Reserves while in high school, starting off as a part-time infantry soldier. “I wanted to be part of something great,” she recalls. “I just felt a calling to be more and do more. That’s why I joined the Forces.” After graduating from university with a degree in journalism, she started working full-time in the Regular Force. Roseanna had the opportunity to experience different roles within the Forces prior to taking on her current role. She appreciates the wide range of opportunities available in the Forces, saying, “There’s a huge amount of diversity. You can do things that you didn’t even know exist!”
Roseanna currently lives in Ottawa with her husband, a former diver in the Navy, and their two young sons. Her weekends and evenings are free to spend with her family, as well as on hobbies such as horseback riding and hiking. “My lifestyle is very well balanced,” she says. “I have time to do homework; I have time to shop for Bristol board for projects!”
“In ten years, I will still be in the military!” Roseanna says when asked about her future. She is proud to be a member of the Forces and still feels the same calling to support Canada as she did at age sixteen. “I’m just proud of my country. Every day I wake up and I go to work to support my country and support my fellow Forces members, and I can’t ask for a better job.”
“I would tell someone contemplating a career in the Forces that you can make the experience what you want it to be. Not all roles in the Forces are combat-related. Do the research, see what’s out there and go after it,” Roseanna advises to potential recruits. “If I could do it again, I would join the Forces and I wouldn’t change a thing!”
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Major Streek is Excited to go to Work Everyday
As the first person in her entire family to join the military, Major Karen Streek’s decision to join the Forces came as a shock to her family and friends. “It wasn’t something I had planned on doing,” Karen recalls. “I was at a time in my life where I knew I was going to go to university, but nothing was really of interest to me, nothing was really jumping at me.” After seeing a presentation on the Royal Military College of Canada at her high school, Karen decided to try it out. “I saw this as a great challenge and something exciting and I knew immediately that’s where I wanted to go.”
Nineteen years later, Karen now holds a degree in mechanical engineering from the Royal Military College and leads a communications squadron in Ottawa. As a commanding officer, she is responsible for overseeing 150 soldiers working to provide classified communications materials to military operations around the world, including Afghanistan. “The thing I love best about my job is that every day is different,” she says. “There are always new challenges, there’s always exciting things to look forward to. I absolutely love my job.”
At home, Karen and her husband are busy raising three young children under the age of six. Weekends and evenings are focused on family, with lots of time to take the children to extracurricular activities and play together. “It’s definitely a busy lifestyle, but a lot of fun,” she admits. “I’m able to be a good parent at home because I’m satisfied in other parts of my life.” Karen’s husband is a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force and when he is traveling for work, they keep their relationship strong with constant communication. “I don’t think there has ever been a day in our 17 year relationship that we haven’t spoken!”
Despite a busy home life, Karen still manages to keep up with her personal interests, thanks to the physical fitness time that the Forces provides to members during the work day. “I’m a cyclist,” Karen enthuses. “We’re currently training to go on a cycling trek from Ottawa to Kingston. So I’m fulfilling both my leisure desires and my military occupation at the same time.” Karen has had many exciting athletic opportunities throughout her career with the Forces, including cycling across Canada with a military team and participating in the Nijmegan March across the Netherlands.
“The Forces is definitely somewhere to be if you’re looking for a challenge and you’re looking for a place where you’re going to enjoy working,” Karen advises. “You have a really good team environment. It’s just not a job, it’s more than that. I am very proud to wear the uniform.”
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Captain Patterson Tells the Stories of Military Members
When asked what she does for a living, Captain Lynne Patterson says that she is a story-teller. As a Public Affairs Officer, Lynne is responsible for sharing the stories of the Forces, from overseas missions to the personal experiences of the members. “I get to tell the story from the inside, about all the different people that are in the military,” Lynne says about her job. “I might not be the person who flies the plane or is on the front line, but I get to meet all those people.”
After completing a degree in journalism, Lynne began working as a writer at a newspaper. However, after a decade of jumping from position to position in an unstable and limited job market, she had enough. “I was frustrated with the private sector job opportunities in my field,” Lynne says. Lynne’s husband, a member of the Forces, suggested she apply to become a Public Affairs Officer in the military.
Lynne was also attracted to the benefits, salary and pension plan that comes with a career in the Forces. “I have a better work-life balance. My job security, salary and benefits have allowed me to concentrate on my family instead of worrying about my career.”
As an athlete, Lynne has found that the Air Force is well-suited to her active lifestyle, swimming on the Canadian Armed Forces Lifesaving and Swimming teams and traveling throughout Canada and Europe to compete. She also enjoys the hour in her work day dedicated to physical fitness, where she can go to the gym or to the pool.
At the moment, Lynne is living in Ottawa with her husband and two young sons. She works with the Marketing and Advertising team at the Department of National Defence and absolutely loves her job. Her spare time is spent with her children, playing with them and taking them to swimming and skating lessons. In the future, Lynne hopes to deploy overseas and experience more of the adventure that comes with being in the Forces.
“To convince a friend to join the Forces, I would tell her what I do in a day. It’s always impressive, there’s always a wow in the conversation when you’ve explained what you’ve done that day, or where you’re going,” Lynne says. “I would absolutely join the Forces again. If I had to go back and make that choice again, I would do it and I might even do it earlier.”
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More Than a Summer Job for Master Seaman Alcina
Master Seaman Emely Alcina joined the Naval Reserve as a university student looking for a summer job, after seeing a notice in the newspaper. “Joining the Navy as a boatswain was a completely random experience,” she says. “I do not have any family members in the military, nor did I speak sufficient English at the time!”
Emely was raised in Venezuela and came to Canada at the age of sixteen to study psychology at the University of Ottawa. Since joining the Forces, Emely has earned a Bachelor’s degree, as well as Master’s degree in counselling. As a Reservist, she received support from the Forces to help pay for her education, as well as medical and dental benefits.
Today, Emely works full-time as a counsellor with the University of Ottawa Mental Health Services, while continuing her part-time role in the Reserves. Her current role in the Navy involves training coordination for the boatswain recruits in her unit in Ottawa. “The biggest advantage of being part of the Reserves has been the opportunity to have my two lives,” Emely says. “Having that Reserves’ life and the opportunity to go away and travel and learn and train on a completely different level than I do in my civilian side… It’s the dual life that I enjoy.”
Emely owns a house in Ottawa where she lives with her partner, who is also a member of the Forces. In her spare time, she plays in local soccer and softball leagues, as well as taking part in other hobbies such as photography and volunteering in the community. She also enjoys traveling. “I have traveled quite a bit with the Navy. I have gone to different ports all over the place, in the US and Alaska, and in Canada as well.”
“For those out there who are interested in joining the Forces, I think it’s a great opportunity to get out there and to have an awesome experience, to learn lots, to meet a lot of people and to travel the world,” advises Emely. “If I had to do it all over again, I would join again in a minute. I do not picture my life without the Forces as part of it.”
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Corporal Morin Followed His Dreams of Helping Others
Corporal Steven Morin joined the Forces looking to make a significant contribution to the world through humanitarian missions abroad. Most recently, he was deployed to the Philippines as part of the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART). The team was dispatched to the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the island nation on November 8, 2013. It was one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded and it caused severe devastation. The Canadian Armed Forces made significant contributions to the disaster relief effort by providing clean water and medical care to the affected population, and by helping to clear debris, opening roads and re-establishing electricity. “The Forces have given me the opportunity to travel around the world, to be in the front seat witnessing major events that most people only hear about through the media,” Steven says. “There is pride in being able to say, ‘I was there…’.”
Steven grew up in the Saguenay region of Quebec where he worked as a security guard prior to joining the Forces. In addition to his passion for humanitarian missions, he was also attracted to the military for the job security and opportunities for career advancement. Steven cites the spirit of camaraderie in the Forces as one of his favourite parts of being in the military. “The best aspect of my job is the support I get from my colleagues who wear the uniform,” he enthuses. “Whether it’s looking after my family while I’m away or simply helping me to move a fridge, I’m never alone, I’m never stuck.”
This support was important to Steven, his wife and their two young sons on his first posting, which moved them to a new Anglophone environment. “We were posted to Kingston, Ontario, which was completely foreign to two hard-core Saguenéens,” he recalls. “We became extremely resourceful. Faced with all these different tasks, I learned fast!” He says that the move has been a positive change for his family. As a result, his children are bilingual in both official languages, a benefit that will serve them well for the rest of their lives.
With a busy career that sometimes pulls him away from home, Steven appreciates every moment he gets to spend with his wife and children. “What’s important for me is spending all my time with my family when I’m home,” he says. “My leisure activities revolve around my family. When I’m home I like to be 100% there, both for my wife and my children.” Even when away on operations, Steven says, “My family gives me all the support I need to carry out the mission. Despite the distance between us, I know they’re there for me.”
Steven believes that the Forces have something to offer for everyone, no matter what skills they have. “The diversity of the Forces means that every personality type has something to offer.” He advises potential recruits to consider their natural aptitudes and personal interests when selecting a job. “Don’t think twice about it!” he urges. “Make the jump. You will surprise yourself!”
Captain Henderson Changed Careers
Before joining the Forces, Captain Karen Henderson spent 17 years as a community pharmacist. Being married to a Forces member, she had to find a new job when the family moved. Eventually she began to consider joining as well, “Becoming a Pharmacy Officer would enable me to continue my career with a pension and job security.”
In 2012, Karen decided to join the Forces as a Pharmacy Officer. “My hesitation was that I would be away from my children and that I was older joining.”
Now that she is in her Forces role, her work-life balance has improved significantly, with evenings and weekends free. She has also taken advantage of programs offered by the Military Family Resource Center, including a support group while her husband was deployed to Afghanistan.
Karen hopes to continue enjoying her career, posted alongside her husband. At 44, she is now looking to retire at 60 thanks to the Forces pension plan, something that would not have been possible if she stayed a community pharmacist.
In Karen’s opinion, anyone who wants a career, not just a job, should join the Forces. If she could give any advice to her pre-Forces self, it would be, “Apply to the Forces earlier and don’t let this pass you by!”
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Sergeant Girouard Values His Role Instructing Others
In his job, Sergeant Hugo Girouard passes on the knowledge he has gained over 16 years in the military. He is an instructor of the Basic Military Qualification Course working in Shilo Manitoba. “I think leadership is evolving in the Canadian Armed Forces,” he notes. “Young soldiers these days aren’t afraid to ask ‘the why’ about an order, and this is a good thing.”
Sergeant Hugo Girouard has completed three deployments abroad, in Yugoslavia, the United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan. “We were helping people and saw the results on the ground… those memories are life-long and that woke me up to how good we’ve got it here. I have gained a deeper understanding of the reason why I love and serve my country.”
A twist of fate led Hugo on his current career path. After graduating high school, Hugo began training part-time to be a firefighter, sometimes working up to three jobs to support himself and cover the cost of his education. The floods in Saguenay hit, carrying away the fire station. “They couldn’t host me since they were dealing with the floods and so I had to find alternate employment,” he recalls. Instead of fighting fires, he became an artillery soldier for the Forces and hasn’t looked back.
“When they say, ‘if you like an adventure, join the Forces’, they are not kidding! It’s a three-year commitment, but you will gain more life experience than any other job on the market.”
As a Fighter Pilot Captain Lawrence is a Real Top Gun!
As an aviation enthusiast, the Royal Canadian Air Force was a natural fit for Captain Tom Lawrence, who is an F-18 fighter pilot. He cites the chance to fly high performance aircraft and the opportunity to work with a highly skilled and motivated team as his favourite things about his career in the Forces. “The typical camaraderie that I experience on a tactical fighter squadron was better than I ever imaged it could be,” Tom says. “I find that being in such an environment tends to motivate everyone to achieve their best.”
Tom grew up in Maple, Ontario, where he had the opportunity to participate in recreational flying as a teenager. Despite knowing very little about the military, Tom’s passion for a career in aviation inspired him to join the Air Force after obtaining a diploma in Aviation Technology and a degree in Aeronautical Science. “My hesitations and concerns about joining the military were the little knowledge I had about the military lifestyle, and whether or not I would be able to succeed in a very demanding work environment,” Tom admits. “I assumed that life in the Forces would be challenging, but rewarding.”
Today, Tom is posted at Canadian Forces Base Bagotville in Quebec with his wife, who is also a member of the Forces. As a pilot, Tom is required to travel frequently and enjoys the opportunity to meet new people. “I’ve had the fortune to visit almost every province in the country because of my job, and in doing so, contribute to the safety and security of Canadians across the country,” says Tom. Much like all airplane pilots, Tom’s office is portable. While he is away, he and his wife communicate at least once a day by phone or email. He says constant communication helps to bridge the gap when he is away from his wife. In his spare time, Tom likes to exercise, spend time with friends and work on maintaining his classic car.
Tom sees his future with the Forces applying the skills he has learned as a pilot at a more strategic level and continuing to thrive in the Forces. The pride he takes in his work helps him maintain his motivation and enthusiasm for his job: “Joining the Forces has afforded me the opportunity to become part of a team which promotes and defends the ideals that everyday Canadians aspire to.”
“In my opinion, the ideal candidate for the Forces is someone who is goal-oriented, and is always striving to learn and apply newfound knowledge for the betterment of oneself and the team,” Tom advises to anybody thinking of joining the Forces. “There are opportunities and chances to prove yourself everywhere, so seize them and show everyone what you can do.”
Corporal McIntyre Found a Better Future for Her Family
Corporal Kathern McIntyre was inspired to join the Forces as an Aircraft Structures Technician by her father, who spent 25 years in the same trade. “I chose to join the military to help Canada and to make my father proud,” she says. As a single mother, Kathern felt that a career in the Forces could offer her something more: “I wanted a career that could provide stability and room for growth. I started thinking long term, my daughter’s secondary education, a house not just an apartment. Things I didn’t put much thought into prior to becoming a mother.”
Today, Kathern is posted at 12 Wing Shearwater in Nova Scotia and loves her job. She lives off of the base, in her own home, with her daughter and common-law partner. Evenings and weekends are devoted to family time.
In the future, Kathern sees herself in a supervisory role. She feels that the continuing education and opportunities for advancement are her favourite benefits of a career in the Forces. “One thing that I have learned working in the military is that when you think your training is finished, it isn’t,” Kathern says. “You are constantly learning new things and taking new courses to better yourself.”
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