MEDICINE HAT, AB – The South Alberta Light Horse is on the hunt for those who have a desire to serve their community and country.
Part of a national push to increase reserve numbers, the Alberta-based unit is looking to hire 30 part-time members to join the ranks in Lethbridge, Edmonton, and here in Medicine Hat.
Maj. Scott Payne said there’s a lot of flexibility in the program, which opens up options for those interested in becoming a reservist.
“It's great for students,” said Payne. “But, it's also flexible enough so that people who have careers right now, who want to fill that dream and get that new adventure, that they can do it part-time.”
Pte. Cameron Curtis joined the reserves in Medicine Hat out of high school, following in his father’s footsteps who served with both the Canadian and British military.
“He was in the Canadian reserves as well at one point,” said Curtis. “So, when I was going through school I saw a recruiting opportunity and I took it.”
Canadian citizens between the ages of 16 and 57 that have a Grade 10 education are eligible to apply with the reserves.
According to the Canadian Armed Forces, the majority of reservists serve one evening a week and one weekend a month.
Physical fitness is encouraged as basic training can be gruelling, but reserve unit recruiter Master Corporal Jason DeJong said mental strength is just as important.
“A lot of the Canadian Forces is mental,” said DeJong. “So, if you think you can do it, you have a higher chance of success than if you go in with a bad attitude.”
Those accepted into the reserves go through basic training and are often called on to help in disaster situations such as last year’s wildfires in British Columbia and the 2013 flood.
Reservists from the South Alberta Light Horse filled almost 80,000 sandbags in 2013, helping to prevent a possible power failure at the local power plant.
In rare cases, reserves are also asked to support Canadian troops deployed across the world, including most recently in Afghanistan.
A new recruiting tool for the Medicine Hat regiment this year has been the addition of two tactical armoured patrol vehicles, which Payne said recruits will get to know.
“They're going to learn how to drive that vehicle, and to operate the radios and the weapons systems on that,” he said. “So, they'll be responsible to be a part of a crew.”
Curtis said he’s enjoyed getting to work on the vehicles and added it’s something he thinks will attract others to the Patterson Armoury.
“The [grenade machine-gun] and the C6 [machine gun] that you can mount on the top of it... just how it functions is really interesting,” he said. “I think a lot of people will find that interesting as well when joining up.”
Coming up on two years with the reserves, the 19-year-old Curtis said it’s been a journey in self-discovery.
“I've gained a lot of experiences and skills that I can transfer over to [civilian] side, as well as just made me stronger as a person I guess,” he said.
A big year is on the horizon for the reserves with South Alberta Light Horse, as they will be taking part in ‘Exercise Maple Resolve 2019’ which will supply a fully-trained troop to the Lord Strathcona’s Horse.
Payne said it’s a badge of honour getting to give back to Medicine Hat and the country as a whole, and is hoping more locals will consider getting involved.
“This is the regiment of Medicine Hat and we're looking for people to help grow us. So, that when a 2013 flood comes again, and our guys are called on to save the day and gals called on to save the day, that they'll be there to do that.”
Anyone interested in becoming a reservist can find more information by visiting www.forces.gc.ca or calling 310-2769. Those looking for more on the Southern Alberta Light Horse call the Patterson Armoury at 1-888-404-7254 or visit their website at www.salh.ca.
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