Min­is­ter of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs Com­men­da­tion

Spa­niard’s Bay vet­eran hum­bled by recog­ni­tion

The Compass - - NEWS - BY DANETTE DOOLEY danette@nl.rogers.com

Two days be­fore Me­mo­rial Day in New­found­land, Jack Mercer of Spa­niard’s Bay was one of two New­found­lan­ders pre­sented with the Min­is­ter of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs Com­men­da­tion dur­ing a cer­e­mony in Hal­i­fax on June 29.

When con­tacted by phone last week Mercer said the event was all the more spe­cial as his son Terry Mercer was with him dur­ing the cer­e­mony.

“My wife is a sick per­son. She’s had health prob­lems for 38 years. She couldn’t go with me. And when I sug­gested (to Vet­er­ans Af­fairs Canada) if my son could ac­com­pany me on that jour­ney, they agreed with it and it worked out just great.”

The com­men­da­tion is pre­sented to in­di­vid­u­als who have con­trib­uted to the care and well be­ing of vet­er­ans and to the re­mem­brance of their con­tri­bu­tions, sac­ri­fice and achieve­ments.

It is in­tended pri­mar­ily for vet­er­ans, but in some cir­cum­stances may also be awarded to non-vet­er­ans.

“It was a lovely cer­e­mony and we had a lovely meal af­ter­wards,” Mercer said of the cer­e­mony.

A Korea War vet­eran, Mercer is an ac­tive, long­stand­ing mem­ber of the Royal Cana­dian Le­gion and has held the po­si­tion of ser­vice of­fi­cer for 27 years.

Through the decades, he has con­tin­ued to pro­vide ad­vice and as­sis­tance to vet­er­ans and their de­pen­dents about their el­i­gi­bil­ity for ben­e­fits and pro­grams pro­vided by Vet­er­ans Af­fairs Canada. He also does his best to an­swer any other ques­tions they may have.

The com­men­da­tion bar pre­sented to Mercer in­cludes a bar, which can be worn be­low of­fi­cial dec­o­ra­tions on a vet­eran’s blazer, as well as a lapel pin for civil­ian wear and a cer­tifi­cate.

Vet­er­ans Af­fairs Min­is­ter Jean-Pierre Black­burn pre­sented Mercer with his award.

“ While many might be quick to speak about the im­por­tance of vol­un­teerism,” Jean-Pierre Black­burn, said, “ the in­di­vid­u­als be­ing com­mended to­day have made it their re­al­ity. This is truly what makes them spe­cial, their will­ing­ness to act and help,” the Vet­er­ans Af­fairs Min­is­ter said in a pre­pared state­ment.

Mercer vol­un­teers his time vis­it­ing ail­ing vet­er­ans and is a life mem­ber of the Royal Cana­dian Le­gion and a re­cip­i­ent of the Mer­i­to­ri­ous Ser­vice Medal and Palm Leaf - the Le­gion’s high­est hon­our.

Spend­ing time with vet­er­ans gives him as much plea­sure as it does his com­rades, Mercer says.

“I visit them at their homes and in hos­pi­tals and sit down and spend a lit­tle time with them. Our (Le­gion) branch has a few wheel­chairs on hand and I try to keep them in good shape in case one of our vet­er­ans needs one,” Mercer says.

With only a few vet­er­ans left, Mercer says, he and other mem­bers of the Le­gion make sure they stop by to help cel­e­brate birth­days and other spe­cial oc­ca­sions.

Vol­un­teer­ing has en­riched his life for many decades, he says.

“ I’ve been blessed with half-de­cent health and I’m happy to be able to do what­ever I can for oth­ers, es­pe­cially our vet­er­ans.”

Orig­i­nally from Shearstown, Mercer spent 25 years work­ing for the pro­vin­cial depart­ment of jus­tice, much of that time spent as a warder at the Sal­monier Cor­rec­tional In­sti­tu­tion. He re­tired in 1981 af­ter at­tain­ing the rank of sergeant. “ If any­body asked what I did for a liv­ing down through the years, I used to tell them that I was in jail for 25 years,” the friendly man jokes.

Mercer said he’s hum­bled to be rec­og­nized by Vet­er­ans Af­fairs Canada as well as his lo­cal Le­gion branch.

“ You do what you do and you don’t re­al­ize that peo­ple are keep­ing tabs on you. They ap­pre­ci­ate what you do.

Cle­ment Lambe of Marys­town was the other New­found­lan­der pre­sented with the min­is­ter’s com­men­da­tion dur­ing the cer­e­mony.

Photo cour­tesy of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs Canada

Jack Mercer of Spa­niard’s Bay (left) ac­cepts the min­is­ter’s com­men­da­tion from Vet­er­ans Af­fairs Min­is­ter Jean-Pierre Black­burn dur­ing a June 29 cer­e­mony in Hal­i­fax.

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