Broadmead Veterans Association renews spirit

Broadmead Veterans Memorial Lodge’s Veterans Association

Members of Broadmead’s Veterans Memorial Lodge’s Veterans Association include: (left) Paul Newcombe, Vice President; Lloyd Liesch, President; and Bruce McShannon, Social Justice Executive, say its encouraging to see the progress of their organization in giving a voice to residents at the long-term care home. Photo: Peter Mallett, Lookout staff

Peter Mallett, 
Staff Writer

An advisory group at Broadmead’s Veterans Memorial Lodge has given former military members a more prominent decision-making voice while encouraging camaraderie.

Resident’s councils are not uncommon at long-term care homes across the province, but one made up exclusively of veterans is unique, said Janet Power, Executive Director of Veterans Lodge.

“It gives them a voice and they use this group to express themselves and share their experiences with other veterans,” Power said. “They also help other residents and help improve their lives.”

The Veterans Association is a resident’s council representing 115 veterans at Broadmead Care’s 225-person long-term care home in Saanich. The Association was formed in May 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Association was helping its members end isolation. Now, it has also become a valuable resource for healthcare staff for a more comprehensive sense of issues concerning residents.

Power said the group has contributed to significant improvements at the Lodge. Some of their accomplishments include organizing Remembrance Day ceremonies during the pandemic, creating a Celebration of Life book that holds the legacy of past Lodge residents, and designing a Veterans Recognition Wall made up of military memorabilia, which will be prominently displayed. Over the holidays, Association members formed a carolling group and serenaded residents who were isolated in their rooms.

The Veterans Association is run by a seven-member Executive headed by Lloyd Liesch, Association President and a former Royal Canadian Air Force member. Liesch, 98, served Canada during the Second World War.

“I am not only happy about being part of this organization but am excited about it too,” Liesch said. “It hasn’t been too long since we formed the Association but we have already accomplished so much.”

The group meets twice a month and sees approximately 10-20 residents. The meetings follow Robert’s Rules of Order, a parliamentary procedure for meetings founded by Henry Martyn Robert, U.S. Army Officer.

Master Sailor (ret’d) Bruce McShannon, 89, is the Association’s Social Justice Executive. He served 25 years in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) as a Weapons Technician and later as a Commissionaire at CFB Esquimalt before his retirement in 2019. McShannon said joining the Association has helped him end the feeling of isolation brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Taking part has been a big help in overcoming this isolation because we are all working together as a team, getting to have our say, and helping each other out,” he said.

The Association’s Vice-President is Paul Newcombe, who served the RCN as a Naval Cadet during the 1950s and retired as a Lieutenant. He said he is ‘highly impressed’ with the teamwork aspect of the Association.

Chaplain Francis Welch, Broadmead Care’s Spiritual Care Coordinator, attends most meetings. He said its creation had provided many residents with renewed hope.

“The Veterans Association gives them a greater sense of meaning and the greatest thing is seeing this fire, discovery and spirit in them,” Welch said. “They have been through so much and in many ways they have taught me how to look at life through the COVID-19 pandemic lens.”

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