As is the case with everyone, there are a handful of important years that define Paul Franklin's life. 1999 was the year he found his calling, with the Canadian Forces. In 2000 he welcomed his son, Simon, into the world. He completed his first marathon in 2005.
But according to Paul, the best year of his life was 2006; that was the year a suicide bomb ripped through his vehicle in Afghanistan - killing Canadian diplomat Glyn Berry, and seriously injuring two fellow soldiers. Paul nearly died that year. He lost both of his legs, but found a new purpose: to improve the lives of Canadian military and civilian amputees.
It was at this time he discovered a new passion...to help other amputees.
Interacting with injured patients and amputees, and seeing how hard the hospital staff was working to care for these individuals. Paul found he was thriving and thus began his journey down a new path in life, helping other amputees. Paul co-founded the Northern Alberta Amputee Program (NAAP) and the Franklin Foundation."with the mandate to improve the life and care of all amputees." These charitable organizations have now transformed into the Amputee Coalition of Canada and the University of Alberta Amputee Research Awards.
When Paul returned from combat in 2006, Canadian vets were routinely sent to the U.S. for rehabilitation. At the time, Canada didn't have the programs or facilities that veterans and amputees needed. Now six years later, largely due to Paul's commitment to the cause, Edmonton is home to a state-of-the-art rehab hospital. In 2009, Paul left the Armed Forces to work as a veterans' advocate full time. He says the veterans community in Canada has come a long way in the last decade, but there's still much work to be done.
Paul became the first military Peer Visitor in Canada in 2006 and has since supported the implementation of civilian and military Peer Visitor Programs across Canada. He is also on the board of directors of the ACC in the position of Fundraising Chair. Paul works with several other charitable groups and veteran groups across Canada, the US, UK and Australia.
|He says the veterans community in Canada has come a long way in the last decade, but there's still much work to be done.|