Second World War Veteran Reflects on War Amps 100 Years of “Amputees Helping Amputees”

Dec 13th, 2018 | By | Category: On The Cover

As The War Amps celebrate its 100th anniversary this year, Second World War veteran Charlie Jefferson, of Ottawa, reflects on how the Association has supported him and generations of amputees.

In March 1945, Jefferson was serving as a Lieutenant with the Queen’s Own Rifles Regiment in the Rhine Valley, Germany.
He was injured by an anti-personnel mine explosion, resulting in the loss of his left leg below the knee. When he returned to Canada he was greeted by a war amputee veteran who reassured him that living with an amputation would not be a barrier to a successful life and that The War Amps would be there to support him.

The War Amps was started in 1918 by amputee veterans returning from the First World War to help each other in adapting to their new reality as amputees. They then welcomed amputee veterans following the Second World War, like Jefferson, sharing all that they had learned, as well as starting the Key Tag Service to allow these new members to gain meaningful employment and provide a service to the public.

Jefferson says that he gained practical advice from fellow amputee veterans, like how to protect the skin on his stump from blisters. He adds that the moral support he received was just as important because it made him feel like he was not alone. “It became easier to accept your amputation and helped make the most of what you’ve got left,” says Jefferson.

Over the years, he “paid it forward” by visiting new amputees in hospitals and at their homes to provide the same guidance that he had been given. “I would tell them what success I had and what was working for me, so there was a comradery and information transfer,” he
says.

This peer support was then passed on to a new generation. In 1975, war amputee veterans recognized that their knowledge and experience could help others so they started The War Amps Child Amputee (CHAMP) Program, which provides financial assistance for the cost of artificial limbs and regional seminars to young amputees.

Rob Larman, Director of The War Amps PLAYSAFE/DRIVESAFE Program, lost his right leg in a train accident at the age of 14 and grew up with the CHAMP Program. “The legacy that these First and Second World War ‘amps’, like Mr. Jefferson, have created for all amputees in this country is incredible,” says Larman. “I’m proud to, in turn, help the younger amputees who have come after me.”

When war amputee veterans started The War Amps, they could not have predicted that their founding principle of “amputees helping amputees” would still be going strong 100 years later. Thanks to the public’s continuing support of the Key Tag Service, The War Amps vital programs for amputees across Canada will carry on long into its second century.

100 Years at a Glance

1918 The War Amps is founded by amputee veterans returning from the First World War, with the philosophy of “amputees helping amputees.”

1939 With the next generation of war amputees coming home from the Second World War, the Association welcomes these veterans, many returning on hospital ships, and provides an encouraging picture of their future as amputees.

1946 The Key Tag Service debuts, creating jobs for war amputees and generating funds for the Association by providing a valuable service to Canadians. To date, the service has returned more than 1.5 million sets of lost keys to their owners.

1975 The Association starts the Child Amputee (CHAMP) Program, providing financial assistance for artificial limbs, regional seminars and peer support.

2014 The War Amps ongoing work to protect the rights and interests of amputees is formalized in the Advocacy Program. Advocacy provides a voice for all amputees in Canada and helps them access the financial assistance, care and services to which they are entitled.

2018 The War Amps celebrates 100 years!

DID YOU KNOW that The War Amps many programs for amputees are made possible through the public’s support of the
Key Tag and Address Label Service?

How do key tags work?

• Key tags are mailed to Canadians once a year.

• Attach a confidentially coded War Amps key tag to your key ring. It is registered to your name and address only.

• If you lose your keys, the finder can call the toll-free number on the back of the tag or place them in any mailbox in Canada.

• The War Amps will return your keys to you by courier, free of charge.

• Every fall, The War Amps mails personalized, peel and stick seasonal address labels as a thank you to donors. Together with the Key Tag Service, this provides year-round employment for Canadian amputees and other people with disabilities.

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