Colonel sheds light on base

Cana­dian Forces base com­man­der feels for­tu­nate to be part of a sup­port­ive city

Kingston Whig-Standard - - FRONT PAGE - STEPH CROSIERT

Open­ing eyes and dis­pelling myths, Cana­dian Forces Base Kingston’s base com­man­der spoke on Thursday about how his mem­bers are all part of the melt­ing pot of the city.

Col. Kirk Gallinger was in­vited to speak to the Cana­dian Club of Kingston dur­ing a lun­cheon at the Cataraqui Golf and Coun­try Club. He spoke about the work that is be­ing done on the base, the role of the base in the wider scope of the Cana­dian Forces and how his mem­bers are con­tin­u­ing to be sent around the world on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

He em­pha­sized that the base as a whole feels for­tu­nate to be a part of Kingston and has al­ways felt sup­port from the mu­nic­i­pal­ity. It is a his­toric re­la­tion­ship that Gallinger aims to con­tinue. De­spite that re­la­tion­ship, he ad­mit­ted that the ev­ery­day civil­ian may not know ev­ery­thing that is go­ing on at the base.

“Much like Kingston, [CFB Kingston is] a cen­tre of in­no­va­tion in the realm of de­fence,” Gallinger told the Whig-Stan­dard prior to speak­ing. “We have a num­ber of dif­fer­ent or­ga­ni­za­tions that work tech­nol­ogy doc­trine.”

Those skills and oth­ers are be­ing put to work in Canada and around the world. Gallinger said that in Novem­ber alone, there were 400 mem­bers of the Cana­dian Forces based in Kingston who are de­ployed around the world supporting var­i­ous op­er­a­tions, in­clud­ing with the United Na­tions (UN) and the North At­lantic Treaty Or­ga­ni­za­tion (NATO). Two lead­ers from Kingston are com­mand­ing the NATO train­ing mis­sion in Iraq, and Col. Travis More­hen is com­mand­ing the joint task force in the African coun­try of Mali.

“We are just as busy now, and it’s not just one lo­ca­tion,” Gallinger said. “There are troops that are in Mali, in Iraq, in Europe and all through­out Canada. That goes on daily, monthly. That’s part of our nor­mal.”

That “nor­mal” means mem­bers are away from their loved ones, fam­i­lies that need to be sup­ported by the com­mu­nity, he said. Dur­ing his pre­sen­ta­tion, Gallinger told the story of wel­com­ing home a cor­po­ral on Sun­day who’d been in Latvia on an­other NATO mis­sion. She missed Christ­mas with her four chil­dren and her hus­band, who is also a mem­ber of the Cana­dian Forces.

Gallinger pointed out dur­ing his speech that Forces mem­bers posted to Kingston are also fac­ing stress from the 0.6 per cent va­cancy rate in the city. The num­ber comes from a rental mar­ket sur­vey com­pleted by the Cana­dian Mort­gage and Hous­ing Cor­po­ra­tion. In 2017, Kingston’s va­cancy rate was 0.7 per cent, the low­est in the prov­ince.

“The im­me­di­ate im­pact is that we now have mem­bers and fam­i­lies that are be­ing pushed to the lim­its of the geo­graphic area to find some­where to live,” Gallinger said. “The ex­cite­ment in be­ing posted to Kingston has, to an ex­tent, been over­shad­owed by the chal­lenge of find­ing a new home.”

He noted that many mem­bers are liv­ing in Napanee and Gananoque to find af­ford­able hous­ing.

An­other com­mon stres­sor be­tween his troops and many On­tar­i­ans is find­ing health-care op­por­tu­ni­ties for fam­i­lies. While mil­i­tary mem­bers have ac­cess to their own physi­cians and base hos­pi­tal, it is not open to their fam­i­lies. This is par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult for fran­co­phone fam­i­lies. He said that about 50 per cent of the mem­bers in Kingston are fran­co­phone but have a chal­lenge find­ing a French­s­peak­ing or bilin­gual physi­cian.

Find­ing a bilin­gual physi­cian be­comes even more cru­cial when it comes to ac­cess­ing help for men­tal health, Gallinger said.

“As Cana­di­ans have worked hard to re­duce the stig­mas as­so­ci­ated with men­tal health, we have seen an in­crease in mil­i­tary fam­ily mem­bers need­ing psy­chi­atric in­ter­ven­tion,” Gallinger told the club. “Un­for­tu­nately, I’m aware of wait lists for some fam­ily men­tal health ser­vices be­ing in ex­cess of eight months.”

Gallinger him­self was posted to Kingston in June and started work last July. He and his fam­ily made the move from Carlisle, Pa., af­ter he com­pleted stud­ies at the United States Army War Col­lege and was a dis­tin­guished grad­u­ate.

He’s called his time in Kingston so far a “great ad­ven­ture.”

STEPH CROSIER/THE WHIG-STAN­DARD

Col. Kirk Gallinger, base com­man­der of Cana­dian Forces Base Kingston, speaks to the Cana­dian Club of Kingston dur­ing a lun­cheon at the Cataraqui Golf and Coun­try Club on Thursday.

STEPH CROSIER/THE WHIG-STAN­DARD

Col. Kirk Gallinger, base com­man­der of Cana­dian Forces Base Kingston, speaks to the Cana­dian Club of Kingston dur­ing a lun­cheon at the Cataraqui Golf and Coun­try Club on Thursday.

STEPH CROSIER/THE WHIG-STAN­DARD

Col. Kirk Gallinger, base com­man­der of Cana­dian Forces Base Kingston, speaks to the Cana­dian Club of Kingston dur­ing a lun­cheon at the Cataraqui Golf and Coun­try Club on Thursday.

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