DND has claimed that they have not released anyone from the service due to injury. Elrick's performance reviews in his new job as Intelligence operator indicated that he was doing work at the level of a Sergeant but due to his injury he could never be promoted.
Instead of offering continued employment DND has offered all wounded and injured soldiers the opportunity to become Cadet instructors as they do not fall within the term of universality of service.
Cpl Mark Fuchko as well as completing the climb of Mount Kilimanjaro also kayaked from north of Seattle to Vancouver in 2009 over a 7 day period with Coastal TEAM Challenge.
Many soldiers would be unable to do either task and yet Mark Fuchko, myself and Elrick and many others are all considered unfit for service.
|Cpl Ryan Crawford (left) and Cpl Mark Fuchko set up their tents for a night in Point Roberts, Washington.|
Principle of Universality of Service
The principle of universality of service or "soldier first" principle holds that CF members are liable to perform general military duties and common defence and security duties, not just the duties of their military occupation or occupational specification. This may include, but is not limited to, the requirement to be physically fit, employable and deployable for general operational duties.
United States Marine Corp (who have similar fitness rules and regulations as the CF) member who showcases that Universality of Service is not applied equally
'More than 100 combat veterans who have lost arms and legs over the last decade in Afghanistan are at risk of being forcibly discharged from the military because they can no longer meet that standard, known as Universality of Service.
Many of the most grievously wounded Canadian soldiers have expressed frustration with the policy. Elrick is believed to be the first to have mounted a legal challenge.
“Everyone understands that soldiers should be fit. I spent 20 years in the infantry. I’m the first person to say that, yeah, soldiers should be fit and ready to deploy and everything like that — if you’re in that type of unit,” he said in an interview from his home in Winnipeg.
“I think that the way that they’re applying Universality of Service isn’t fair and we’re looking for a bit of a policy change here in the way that they apply it.” Cpl (ret) Ryan Elrick
Allen Woods The Toronto Star, 17 June 2011
Richard Vandentillaart, Edmonton Journal Cpl. Mark Fuchko, one of four Canadian soldiers seriously injured in Afghanistan, says climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is one of the most challenging things he’s done as an amputee.
Photograph by: Richard Vandentillaart, Richard Vandentillaart
Cpl. Mark Fuchko was in such pain the last day of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, others making the trek with him urged him to stop.
“Don’t worry if you don’t get to the top,” they told the struggling double-leg amputee from Calgary.
“That was more motivation to carry on. I didn’t want to quit.”
Fuchko, 27, lost both legs below the knee three years ago, while serving in Afghanistan. Before leaving for Tanzania, the soldier vowed to make it to the top of Africa’s highest mountain (elevation 5,896 metres) on all fours if he had to “and I was intent on doing that,” he said.
“I’m not going to lie, there were some parts where I was severely hurting and the thought had crossed my mind that I should just quit, but I just could not do it. I dug as deep as I could and kept carrying on, pushing myself as hard as I could. I was successful and that just made it all the sweeter.”
Fuchko, Warrant Officer Quinn Beggs, Cpl. Lucas Mullens and Cpl. Dallas White, all recovering from injuries received in Afghanistan, were part of a group of 37 climbers, including doctors, professionals and business leaders, who trekked up Kilimanjaro to raise money for the Orthopedic Surgery Centre at the Royal Alexandra Hospital.
Their goal was $575,000; they raised more than $800,000.
Twenty-eight of them stood on Uhuru Peak, the summit, on Wednesday, after seven gruelling hours of climbing.
“I’m going to require new hips in the future and the fact that the Royal Alex (hospital) has a very specialized system that is very high-tech, that is going to be the best in Canada for hip and knee replacements, gives me a lot of comfort to know that I’m going to have less intrusive surgery that is going to be very precise,” explained Fuchko.
The final push for the summit was the most difficult part of the entire climb. Up to that point, the soldiers thought they had overtrained for the trek because they had taken everything Kilimanjaro had thrown at them.
“Then we got to the base camp (just below the summit). It’s really steep, and it’s really loose ground, challenging for anybody, let alone me, being an amputee,” Fuchko said.
On arriving at Gilman’s Point (elevation 5,669 metres) on top of the mountain, the group watched the sun rise and the soldiers decided to climb two more hours to reach the peak.
Reaching Uhuru and sitting down on a rock, exhausted and relieved that he had made it, is what Fuchko will remember most from the eight-day trek.
“Climbing Kilimanjaro was probably one of the most challenging things I’ve done as an amputee. I can’t describe it any other way — it was very challenging, it was very difficult.”
That last gruelling day required him to wear his prosthetic limbs continuously for 18 hours.
Thursday was another tough day, as the climbers spent seven hours making their way down and off the mountain.
“I required quite a bit of actual physical support (from the other climbers) in certain areas,” Fuchko said from the group’s base hotel in Arusha.
“My legs are just sore. It’s a weird sensation — it feels like I’ve got sore feet.”
Members of the expedition were resting in Arusha on Friday before some of them — Fuchko and his fellow soldiers included — were to board a flight today, arriving home the next day. The rest of the climbers will stay on in Africa for a six-day safari before returning.
“If someone had shown me the summit push that we did the other day a year ago, I would have said ‘that’s impossible, there’s no way I can do that,’ ” Fuchko said. “Reaching the summit has really helped me build a lot of confidence in the skills that I have and the things I can still do as an amputee.
“I’m so glad I was able to summit and complete the whole adventure.”
Military turns blindeye to unfit soldiers at headquarters, ex-ombudsman says
DAVID PUGLIESE, THE OTTAWA CITIZEN
Wounded soldiers out, but 'fat plugs' kept in
The former veterans ombudsman has come out in support of keeping wounded soldiers in the ranks of the Canadian Forces, saying that the military’s Ottawa headquarters is full of “fat plugs” who aren’t physically fit but unlike the injured suffer no consequences.