Ombudsman Recognizes Five Extraordinary Members of Canada’s Defence Community with the Liz Hoffman Memorial Commendation

Message from the Ombudsman | 21 October 2021

On October 21, 2021, I was very pleased to award the Liz Hoffman Memorial Commendation to five dedicated members of the Defence community.

The Liz Hoffman Memorial Commendation recognizes individuals and groups who have exceeded expectations in helping resolve a difficult problem, or have helped bring about positive and lasting change to the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).

This year’s awards were held virtually due to Covid-19 restrictions. However, our distinguished guests sent their congratulations to the recipients by video. These guests included the Acting Chief of Defence Staff General Wayne Eyre; Vice Chief of the Defence Staff Lieutenant-General Frances Allen; Surgeon General Major General Marc Bilodeau; Mr. Serge Tremblay, Mr. David Thompson, and Marcelle Gaudreault from the Canadian Forces Housing Agency; Mr. Sean Cantelon from the Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services; and Dr. Andrea Hoffman, Liz Hoffman’s daughter.

It is an honour to recognize this year’s recipients of the Liz Hoffman Memorial Commendation

 

Lieutenant-Colonel Trisha MacLeod (Major Macleod was promoted in 2021 to Lieutenant-Colonel)

Major MacLeod has been an active champion and voice in support of black, Aboriginal and coloured military patients, going beyond her mandate as a Health Services Operations Officer.

As Commanding Officer of 32 CF H Svcs Gp for the past year and a half, Major MacLeod directly led her team in support of Operation LASER 20, the CAF response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Major MacLeod demonstrated her institutional leadership expertise when she identified the pandemic could have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable members belonging to high-risk groups such as visible minorities and women. She recognized that the unit and CAF’s response to the pandemic needed to fundamentally change in order to rectify the identified problem in the delivery of medical care.

To better address potential impacts on patients, Major MacLeod organized and hosted virtual panelist discussions involving personnel deployed overseas and subject matter experts to facilitate a holistic and comprehensive discussion surrounding visible minority health care. The discussions also helped raise awareness and empower the chain of command of various units in the 31st and 32nd Canadian Brigade Groups to understand the subtle and overt ways they can contribute to the betterment of others' well-being.

The principle of “not turning a blind eye”, identifying and addressing historical injustices in the delivery of health care, and demonstrating the courage, and an example to "do something about it," has truly made her a transformational leader and a change advocate within the 4th Canadian Division.

Ms. Shelley Hopkins

On a daily basis Ms. Shelley Hopkins goes above and beyond her role as the Executive Director of the Halifax and Region Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC).

She is a tireless champion for military families. Her relentless work ethic and passion have driven the Halifax and Region MFRC to be widely recognized as one of the most outstanding in the country.

While always extremely responsive to the needs of military families and local military leadership, her efforts to maintain service and support and deliver uninterrupted programing to families during a global pandemic are particularly noteworthy.

Within CFB Halifax and 12 Wing Shearwater, she is known as someone who can quickly help resolve issues and support CAF members, as well as their family.

Ms. Hopkins' approach to problem solving, her support of alternative dispute resolution, her willingness and ability to resolve problems informally and quickly, in a fair and loyal manner speak to her commitment to making a difference in the lives of military families in the Halifax region.

Ms. Hopkins has created an inclusive and supportive workplace, where fairness, loyalty, empathy, and integrity are deeply rooted in the core values and culture of the organization.

The employees of the Halifax and Region MFRC are empowered and provided with the skills necessary to ensure they can support military families resolve challenges within their respective workplaces, families, and communities.

Ms. Monica Bobbitt

Ms. Monica Bobbitt is a true example of bravery, resiliency, perseverance and leadership.

After the tragic loss of her husband to a training accident in May of 2014, Ms. Bobbitt turned to writing and public speaking, and became an inspiration to many others experiencing loss.

Her page on Facebook, A Goat Rodeo, has over 25, 000 followers and she runs a support group for widows and widowers across Canada that has approximately 850 members.

Ms. Bobbitt started writing as part of her grieving process. Thus was born her blog, A Goat Rodeo.

For the unfamiliar, a Goat Rodeo is a colloquial expression that describes any situation that is chaotic, or going unbelievably wrong.

Through her personal experience, Ms. Bobbitt shares her venture into the Goat Rodeo and what she has learned about grief in its various expressions: courage and strength, moving on after loss, and living one’s best life.

This was the start of how Ms. Bobbitt has helped and inspired so many through grief and everyday life.

In addition to her blog, she writes a voluntary column for the Canadian Military Family Magazine.

In the last five years, she has done 14 speaking events for Military Family Resource Centres, as well as events for various other military units and organizations. She has also provided mentorship to members of the unit to help them find balance into their lives.

Over the years, Ms. Bobbitt has offered valuable support and guidance to members of the Defence community facing grief.

She truly understands the military life and all its highs and lows. She has overcome tragedy and challenges and uses her own experiences to guide others.

Mrs. Kim Mills

As an author, military spouse, and public speaker, Kim Mills meets and connects with military families to share her message.

Having seen firsthand the challenges that deployments can present, she has been instrumental in rallying families who struggle with isolation, lack of support, increased reliance on formal help, and a seeming lack of community.

Kim reached out to the chains of command and family service leadership to bring forward concerns and highlight the disparity in services nationwide.

Mrs. Mills supports military families by mobilizing needed assistance and resources, sharing useful information, directing families to the appropriate areas to receive help, and organizing a myriad of social activities to help families adjust and foster a greater sense of community.

Concerned for the well-being of fellow military families, her message to them is one of courage - to speak up about their struggles, to reach out for help, and to encourage them to build into their own communities and take charge of their resiliency.

Ms. Leanne Pelley

As General Manager of Housing Operations for CFHA, Ms. Pelley regularly goes beyond the normal scope of her duties to ensure the well-being of her team across Canada, and this at all hours of the day.

She makes certain they have the tools and support to fulfill their duties and deliver housing services to Canadian Forces members and their families.

The Active Posting Season (APS) always brings potential elevated stress to families. In order to mitigate stress levels for clients and CFHA employees at the onset of both, the 2020-21 APS and the pandemic, Ms. Pelley led the pivot of operations to ensure families could still receive essential housing services during this time of uncertainty.

To achieve this, she managed the rapid development and implementation of modified procedures and processes, as well as out of the box solutions to allow for continued maintenance and repair activities.

These modifications enabled the continuity of the move-in and move-out process in a minimal contact setting, and allowed greater flexibility for families being restricted by the pandemic environment.

Despite her busy work and family schedule, Ms. Pelley finds time to sit on a board of directors of an organization that supports the care of adults with special needs.

She also volunteers with various other organizations. One of these organizations is the Royal Canadian Legion’s Operation: Leave the Streets Behind, an outreach program stood up in 2019 that supports homeless veterans by providing them with sleeping mats made of recycled milk bags.

In 2020, she collected nearly 7,500 bags and was gifted 70 completed milk bag sleeping mats, made from over 50,000 bags. Her enthusiasm for this worthwhile cause quickly spread within the housing centres and others soon embarked in this initiative to help support shipping milk bags from sites all over Canada.

 

Once again, I would like to thank these outstanding individuals for their commitment and dedication to their work, which has made a significant contribution to promoting a culture of fairness in the Defence community.

 

Gregory A. Lick
Ombudsman

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