Yesterday I said, in a post about double standards, that “Some people will sustain injuries ~ physical and mental ~ that cannot be described as anything but so very long term as to be “permanent” in nature. These good, brave people cannot have careers in the Canadian Forces, not if we are serious about it being a full time, professional, combat ready force.” An interlocutor took issue with my broad generalization, and said, “When I was overseas I saw a Brit with one leg serving in HQ, his lack of an appendage did not impact his performance. In my case although never deployable I as a staff officer graduate could train junior officers and free up some one fit to deploy to actually deploy. It makes no sense to flush your corporate experience down the toilet.“
Very true, and, for several years, I was on a temporary “restricted” posting status which allowed me to bring my “corporate experience” (and training and so on) to bear, in headquarters, on some real work-a-day problems that needed solving while some other colonels, who were fit to deploy, could get on with the work that needed doing in the combat zone.
I am also reminded that, back around 1920 newly promoted lieutenant colonel Georges Vanier took command of his regiment, the Royal 22e Régiment, despite having lost a leg in France just a few years earlier and only after suggesting to HQ that his missing leg did not stop him from thinking and acting. Ditto, 20 years later for RAF Group Captain Douglas Bader who, although missing both legs, racked up and impressive 25± aerial victories before being shot down himself. More recently, Capt. Simon Mailloux, also of the Royal 22e Régiment, was returned to combat after losing a leg. So, there are, of course, exceptions to the rule, there were then, there are now, and there always will be.
I’m not sure there are any better ways to “manage” the exceptions than as was done for Major General Vanier, Group Captain Bader and Captain Mailloux … some very senior officer must say, every now and again, but not too often: “Oh, I don’t care a fig for the bloody regulations: return Vanier to aregimental duty and Bader to flying status and Mailloux to operations.” Trying to write rules to allow for the rare exceptions is a mug’s game.