March 23, 2022
Check against delivery
I’m delighted to be here as governor general and as commander-in-chief.
Personally speaking, I have family members who have chosen, as you have, to serve in the Canadian Armed Forces. So I have always been an admirer of your work at home and abroad.
This is my first chance, since becoming commander-in-chief, to address members of the Canadian Armed Forces stationed overseas. I have been waiting for this moment, to see you, to see what you do on behalf of our country.
So far on this visit to the Middle East, I have been to the UAE, Qatar and now Kuwait. This is certainly a great way to end my visit.
As part of Operation IMPACT, you are providing vital support to military operations in the region. You have also been representatives for our country in Kuwait. And you have been exemplary ambassadors.
I had the chance to speak with some of you earlier, to see what your roles are, and I was greatly impressed.
By no means do you have an easy task.
You assume a lot of responsibility here at Camp Canada, and your roles are as varied as they need to be on any given day. You wear many hats at a job that’s not the normal 9 to 5.
You are constantly at work, making the unseen sacrifice for our country.
In particular, with the pandemic, you had to endure additional isolation, on top of already being away from family and friends, missing milestones, birthdays and anniversaries. You make that sacrifice for Canada, because of your sense of duty, professionalism and honour. We understand that you’re putting your life on hold for us.
In addition, we face the uncertainty related to the heartbreaking situation unfolding in Ukraine. Canada stands by the people of Ukraine, and we stand by you and the work you do to defend our values of freedom, peace and democracy. One of the reasons I have undertaken this visit is to speak to partners, encourage more international co-operation on this and many other issues facing our planet today.
And we rely on your expertise, your insight and your experience to provide Canada important context when we hold these vital discussions.
The constant strain you find yourself under is hard both physically and mentally.
One of my priorities as governor general is mental health and well-being. I look at health holistically. Mental health is as equally important as the health of our bodies. Without one or the other, we can’t function.
I hope to reduce the stigma of asking for help when required. I speak from personal experience, when years ago I sought out treatment for burnout and depression.
Although mental health issues are surprisingly common, it takes courage to share our stories. Your courage will change attitudes. You are never alone.
We need you healthy, we need you to return to Canada healthy.
Canadians at home cannot fully understand the stress of your position. Even just a brief tour does not give me enough authority to claim full knowledge. But I do know that despite obstacles, despite global unrest, you do your job with Canada’s complete confidence in your skill and ability.
I thank you for your sacrifice and dedication. I thank your families back home for their sacrifice as well.
I want you to know that I see what you’re doing and I will share my appreciation, both here and now, and with Canadians across the country.
Your stories, bravery, strength and proficiency will continue to inspire me as I perform my duties as commander-in-chief.
Once again, let me say: thank you.