‘We will con­tinue fight­ing’

Vince Rigby’s fam­ily to con­tinue his bat­tle for veter­ans rights

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY JEREMY FRASER

The fam­ily of a mil­i­tary vet­eran and ad­vo­cate who died in a fire on Mon­day say they will con­tinue fight­ing for veter­ans in Cape Bre­ton.

San­dra Rigby, wife of Vince Rigby, said her hus­band fought un­til the very end for veter­ans, some­thing the fam­ily plans to con­tinue in the fu­ture. “He was still fight­ing, we were still fight­ing and we will con­tinue fight­ing.”

Vince Rigby’s body was found by fire­fight­ers in an aban­doned Robert Street build­ing dur­ing a fire in Whit­ney Pier at around 9 p.m. on Mon­day.

Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Po­lice in­ves­ti­gated the fire and ruled out any sus­pi­cion and foul play in the death of the Syd­ney man. The cause of the fire is un­known at this time.

Rigby, 52, was a vet­eran and an ad­vo­cate with Mar­i­juana for Trauma, a com­pany that helps those with post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der, chronic pain and other med­i­cal con­di­tions. He was the pres­i­dent of the Mar­i­juana for Trauma/Veter­ans Help­ing Veter­ans of­fice in Syd­ney.

He served in Cyprus and Bos­nia to name just two post­ings in a 22-year ca­reer as a Cana­dian re­servist. He had to leave the re­serves in 2002 due to poor health. Rigby had post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der (PTSD).

“He thought if he could get them (veter­ans) off their pills, and get them sta­ble, they would be fine,” said San­dra Rigby. “Vince wanted an­other way to deal with his stress or to deal with his PTSD in­stead of just med­i­ca­tion. He just wanted to help other veter­ans.”

San­dra Rigby said, from her un­der­stand­ing, her hus­band saw smoke com­ing from the va­cant build­ing and went in to see if any­one was in­side.

“The power was on in the build­ing too, and some nights when I drove by, the rooms had dif­fer­ent lights on, so there was def­i­nitely some­one in that house,” she said. “The out­side light was on, there was foot­prints — the guys who called 911 said there were foot­prints there and around the house.”

San­dra Rigby said there are a lot of ru­mours go­ing around as to what hap­pened.

“I just want peo­ple to know, there are a lot of things go­ing around that it was sui­cide, but it wasn’t,” she said. “There was no in­di­ca­tion of sui­cide, not even from the med­i­cal ex­am­in­ers of­fice.”

San­dra Rigby and her hus­band were to­gether for 31 years. The cou­ple had one son, Ja­cob, who cur­rently lives in Ed­mon­ton, work­ing as a pip­efit­ter in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta.

Ja­cob Rigby said his fa­ther was loved by ev­ery­one.

“My fa­ther helped me through ev­ery­thing, through sports and through life,” he said. “My fa­ther helped as many peo­ple as he could, even when he was bat­tling through his own stuff, Dad never gave up.”

Ja­cob Rigby said he would like to see his fa­ther re­ceive proper re­spect from the mil­i­tary. “My fa­ther never got a medal that he should have got, so we will see what’s go­ing to hap­pen in the fu­ture.”

Vince Rigby was also among a group that helped get the Veter­ans Af­fairs of­fice re­opened in Syd­ney.

“We went all the way to Ot­tawa for meet­ings for that (Veter­ans Af­fairs of­fice),” said San­dra Rigby. “He would not let it die — he thought the gov­ern­ment should have showed the veter­ans more re­spect.”

San­dra Rigby said she first no­ticed her hus­band’s post­trau­matic stress dis­or­der when he re­turned from Bos­nia.

“Vince was a fine, healthy man go­ing over — he came back sick,” she said. “I was with Vince be­fore he went over, and when he came back he was a to­tally dif­fer­ent man, it was not Vince.”

Ja­cob Rigby said the fam­ily is go­ing through a hard time right now, but they will get through it.

“We want to thank ev­ery­body for all the sup­port and love, we couldn’t say enough,” he said.

Visi­ta­tion will take place on Mon­day from 6-9 p.m. at Syd­ney Memo­rial Chapel, 49 Wel­ton Street, Syd­ney. A mass is sched­uled for Tues­day at 10 a.m. at Holy Re­deemer Church in Whit­ney Pier, fol­lowed by a celebration of life ser­vice at the Whit­ney Pier Le­gion di­rectly af­ter the mass.

Rigby

PHOTO SUB­MIT­TED/SAN­DRA RIGBY

Vince Rigby, right, is pic­tured with his son, Ja­cob, in this fam­ily photo. Vince Rigby’s body was found by fire­fight­ers in an aban­doned Robert Street build­ing dur­ing a fire in Whit­ney Pier on Mon­day.

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